Sweden is recognised the world over for its exceptional governance structure, as well as its solid reputation for being a technological and entrepreneurial hub. These assets have helped the country hold on to a very respectable 9th place for the third year in a row, and maintain its position as leader of Nordic soft power. Sweden continues to be praised for its welfare system and commitment to social equality, with recent government initiatives including innovative recycling systems and trials for a six-hour work day. Recently named the world’s best country for women thanks to its parental leave policies, individual-based taxation, and regular company audits on equal pay, Sweden is at the forefront of equal opportunity. The Swedes have also done well to secure a reputation for innovation, with Stockholm recognised as one of the world’s best cities for start-ups, and tech players like Spotify and SoundCloud continue to compete with the heavyweights of Silicon Valley. But Sweden isn’t immune to the most pressing global challenges of today. After an April terror attack in Stockholm – the first of its kind to hit the country – Sweden joined the ranks of several European countries needing to step up efforts to combat the threat of extremism. While a sharp decline in the Engagement sub-index – as well as a relatively low score for Culture – has prevented it from edging closer to the top-5, Sweden should be proud of its stable soft power standing.
Known for its strong foundation of good governance and economic stability, Sweden has turned its attention to the digital and entrepreneurial sectors. With the country continually building on and strengthening its soft power portfolio, other nations should be looking to Sweden as an example of why it’s important to avoid complacency.
Sweden dropped from 7 to 16 in the Engagement sub-index this year. As it looks to work more closely with its European neighbours on combatting issues like the threat of terror, Sweden should be careful not to fall too far from the international agenda.
Proving year after year that Sweden is a stable soft power force despite being located on the outskirts of Europe with a small population, Sweden has earned its spot in the top-10. More than a year on from the refugee crisis, the country is holding steady but must mitigate the threat of political fractions and the increasing influence of nationalists in what was a previously centre-heavy political landscape.