Sunday, March 13, 2011

A personal tour of the Swedish Parliament

Roland Utbult he is pretty cool!

At precisely 11.00 am last Friday morning I walked under some neo-Baroque stone arches and through the doors of the Swedish parliament, aka the Riksdag. I shook hands with Roland Utbult, a Christian democrat, who is a newly elected to the legislative assembly of Sweden. He is the friend of the mother of my friend from Folkehøgskole (oh yes social networking at it's best) and on Friday was my tour guide!

Some facts I found interesting:
Sweden is a parliamentary democracy. Parliament is held in the Riksdag building which literally means "parliament". It is built on a small island known as Helgeandsholmen right in the centre of Stockholm. I was surprised how easy it was to assess, and how little security there was in and outside the building. The building is an integrated part of the city; members of the public walk around and through the archways joining the buildings as they walk from one side of the city centre to another. Parliament house in Canberra on the other hand is a huge building ontop of a hill that people have to make an effort to venture to.

Unlike the Australian parliament the Swedish parliament has been a unicameral cameral assembly with 349 members. However just like Australia no single party has the majority of the votes, so politic parties with similar ideas have to work to together. Sweden is known for being one of the most forward and equal countries in the world, so it is quite nice to known that the parliament is made up of 47% women. In Sweden elections take place every 4 years on the second Sunday in September. Why don't we do that in Australia? Have a set date for elections and then there wouldn't be any of that tactical rubbish of setting an election date.

The tour:
Roland showed me the legislative chamber where the debates and voting takes place. When there is a vote a signal is played through out the whole Riksdag building. The members of parliament have exactly six minutes to get to the chamber and vote. Roland said it is a hilarious sight to see over three hundred members of parliaments in suits running through the hallways. He also said that it is common for members of parliament to fall asleep while in the chamber. Apparently during the previous week his party had won a vote just because people from the other parties weren't awake! Scandalous! We also visited some of the offices to the members. Roland has a corner office overlooking the Mynttorget, a public square in the old part of Stockholm. He said it is a popular place for demonstrations and finds it tiring to hear Middle Eastern music and protests all day, ha ha! Then I met one of the youngest members of parliament Andrew Carlson who is only 23! Imagine, being so young and be making decisions for your country. Truly inspiring! To finish we collected our coats, and walked up Stockholm's culture centre where Roland had a meeting about children's rights. We got a man to take our photo and said our goodbyes. It was very memorable and the perfect way to start off my long weekend in Stockholm. Thanks Roland!

The Swedish Parliament building and the river covered in chunks of ice.

The legislative chamber. Roland said that the grey tapestry seen on the wall is made up of 200 different greys.

The beautiful neo-Baroque arches

The bridge/walkway that the members of parliament use when walking from the parliamentary chamber to their offices. They actually walk from one island to another! See the arches begin on the top lefthand side of the picture? The members of parliament walk under the spot I was standing to talk the previous photo.

The door I was looking for. Rikgatan 1.

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