Why you should care
Because this hyperadvanced region of the world may hold some clues to bigger ideas.
What’s the deal with Scandinavia?
For one, it’s a hot spot for immigration. While conventional wisdom would tell you that title goes to Germany or the United Kingdom in Europe, it turns out Sweden’s getting a major influx of immigrants. That’s because of its friendliness toward asylum-seekers like Syrians. The big question for the Nordic colossus is how Scandinavians adjust to an influx of so many new residents from such far-flung cultures, now and in future years. There’s already unease: anti-immigration platforms, riots and neo-Nazis.
But weirdly, though the region is known for being progressive, it has an under-the-radar problem: violence against women, in a big way. The rate of intimate partner violence or sexual violence against women in Scandinavia is about 14 percent higher than on the rest of the continent. There’s a reason the original title of the popular Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series, in Swedish, translated to Men Who Hate Women.
And here’s another twist on the stereotype of liberal paradise Scandinavia: Meet the region’s Margaret Thatcher, Siv Jensen, a conservative star who’s all about read my lips no taxes. OZY’s profile of Jensen from last year digs in on Norway’s minister of finance, who’s been in office since 1997. In addition to holding Ronald Reagan and Thatcher as her idols (she has a bust of Reagan in her office), the former economist has made waves for speaking against the “Islamicization” of Norway.
You should also meet Jens Stoltenberg, the Norwegian who took over NATO this year — during a period that’s essentially the first time NATO has really mattered in years. The 55-year-old politician has a big job: to handle shirtless god, um, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his increasing ambitions as the year rolls on. OZY’s profile took a look at Stoltenberg just before he assumed office. Since then, he seems to have done all right by Putin. For the time being, anyway.