the swedish minister for foreign affairs blogs differently to US politicians

screenshot of Carl Bildt's blogAt the Personal Democracy Forum last weekend there was a lot of talk about how politicians might blog authentically. I mentioned the way that Carl Bildt, Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, blogs: very personally. As I spoke I realised how very different his style is to most US politicians, and I thought it would be useful to translate one of his posts to show you how it’s different. This is a translation of his latest post, published at 3:03 am this morning (though whether that’s US time or Swedish time I don’t know.)

Day one in Washington

Late to bed after an (as usual) very productive day of conversations in Washington.

The after effects of Fredrik’s visit here last week are as tangible as they are good. It has been noticed that our government has given the trans-Atlantic relations new importance.

And throughout my conversations here today I have felt a strengthened sense of the importance of relationships with Europe.

The thought that the USA can do everything by itself is not at all as prominent as a few years ago. And there are strong hopes for what the combination of new political leadership in various European countries might produce.

I’ve been going back and forwards between the State Department, the Finance Department, the Senate and the White House – with my customary lunch at Barnes and Noble’s big bookstore in Georgetown – and finished with dinner at Ambassador Gunnar Lund’s in the fine Swedish residence up on Nebraska Avenue.

There we had succeeded in gathering quite a significant selection of the city’s interesting thinkers and [opinion-holders?] for a lively dinner discussion about common strategies for the next five years.

It was certainly lively. Often the discussion turned to Iraq. But almost just as often to the question about Russia’s future. And always to the balance between the so-called soft and the so-called hard power in both USA and Europe and the need for a better balance between the both and across the Atlantic.

Tomorrow a full day awaits me, mostly in the State Department, starting with my discussions with foreign minister [he uses the Swedish term] Rice.

Previously, years would pass between discussions between our countries at this level.

Now it’s only been about half a year since the last time.

The “Fredrik” he mentions is presumably Fredrik Reinfeldt, Prime Minister of Sweden – what a typically Scandinavian way of keeping everything casual and down-to-earth. We Scandinavians like our politicians and royalty to be like regular people, and to follow the law of Jante, not thinking they’re better than anyone else. Official Swedish government photo of Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt(This is both a cool thing and a sucky thing about Scandinavia.) A quick google found me this wonderful photo of Fredrik Reinfeldt – look at what a man of the people he is! Just a man in the crowd, actually behind (anonymous) firemen or policemen and regular people, but as the others in the crowd look away or hide their faces, the Prime Minister smiles confidently straight at us from beneath a Swedish flag, a flag he doesn’t even wield himself, no no, it’s simply his, given to him by the people, held by an unseen stranger. This is his official presentation at the Swedish government’s website. Heh. That photo speaks the same language as Carl Bildt’s blog, I think.

You’ll notice there are no links – Carl Bildt never links, making his blog look more like a diary than a political blog. Carl Bildt has open comments on his posts, and must moderate to some extent because there’s no spam and I haven’t seen any really offensive comments though some disagree with him, but he doesn’t seem to get involved in the comments discussion himself.

As someone at the conference pointed out, Carl Bildt’s blog might look very different if he were actively campaigning right now. As a more long-term strategy, though, I think this sort of post is likely to build up a trust, likeability and sense of authenticity that would certainly help in future campaigns.

What do you think? And do any other politicians blog in this personal-political way?

22. May 2007 by Jill

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