Sweden’s largest selling daily newspaper, Stockholm’s Dagens Nyheter, has published a debate article by Gunnar Wetterberg in which he argues for the five Nordic countries uniting to form a federal state.
Wetterberg argues that together Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland would have a combined population of over 25 million and a GNP that would make the new nation the world’s tenth biggest economy, coming before both Brazil and Russia. With such might, a new ‘Kalmar Union’ could find itself included in the top tier of international decision making.
At the start, decisions would be made in a European Council style manner, i.e. unanimity or at least no objections between the national governments would be required. However, eventually there would be a bicameral parliament with a lower house elected proportionally (from pan-Nordic party lists) and a senate in which a constituent country’s size would not be as determining for the distribution of seats (i.e. in the style of the USA’s Senate where each state, regardless of population, has 2 members).
Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II would be the Queen of the federal state, the obvious choice for symbolic reasons according to Wetterberg. (Margrethe I reigned over the Kalmar Union and thus ensures that the contemporary Danish queen really would be the second Margrethe in all of the new state). Wetterberg suggests if this is too problematic, the head of state could rotate between the five lands in the style Malaysia’s seven sultans. I wonder what we Finns and the Icelanders would think to the reinstitution of a monarchy? Hardly democratic.
Wetterberg envisages that cooperation and common laws would be increased over time, but each state would continue to have considerable autonomy, along the model of the present Nordic autonomous territories (such as Åland and Greenland).
On the linguistic front, all school children would learn another language of the federal state from the first year of school. Official documents would all be published in two languages: Finnish and one of the Scandinavian languages. Wetterberg states that the Scandinavian languages would include Icelandic as an option, even if this would be difficult to understand for many from the beginning. This seems, at best, optimistic if not down right insane. As a Swedish-speaker, I certainly can not read Icelandic.
It is perhaps fair to comment that only a Swede could write such an article. Sweden has not had its existence called into question for centuries. The Swedes have not fought a war in 200 years (since they lost what is now Finland to Russia). They can therefore perhaps not understand that the Norwegians, the Icelanders and the Finns value our nationhood as something more special. It is something new. Something that has within living memory not been an automatic right. Finland fought for her survival in 1918 and the 1940s and spent most of the second half of the twentieth century under the constant shadow of the Soviet Union. One might say that Finland only achieved real and full freedom with the fall of the USSR, for only then could Finland truly control its entire destiny itself. To suggest that the Finns, Norwegians and Icelanders would give this up so soon is something I doubt would be sellable to the populations. Although, at least in a Nordic superstate, the Finnish-speaking Finns might see the value of the Swedish language and Swedish-speaking Finns might have it easier to maintain their rights.