Sweden

A sign instructing people to wash their hands—featuring a portrait of chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell, the face of the Sweden’s response to the pandemic—hangs at an entrance to a restaurant in Stockholm on May 10. JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images

The Inside Story of How Sweden Botched Its Coronavirus Response

Stockholm denies pursuing herd immunity. But internal emails show Swedish officials were resigned to mass infections all along.

A near-empty square in Stockholm

Our Top Weekend Reads

Swedes can’t figure out their government’s coronavirus approach, a progressive push on U.S. foreign policy, and an honest assessment of the Arab Spring’s fallout.

A nurse wearing personal protective equipment in a tent at the Sophiahemmet private hospital performs tests on a patient to look for symptoms of COVID-19 in Stockholm on April 22.

Sweden’s Second Wave Is a Failure of Government—and Guidance

The country’s contrarian approach to the COVID-19 pandemic was meant to prove that trust in authorities could avert lockdowns. Instead, mixed messaging and political squabbles have led to an exploding epidemic.

Brothers Fred and Hugo Svenleen of Sweden enjoy an ice cream during the 31st annual Twins Day Festival 05 August, 2006, in Twinsburg, Ohio.

Sweden and the World-Historical Power of Conformity

From socialism to the coronavirus, a unified theory for why everyone thinks Swedes have all the answers.

A man walks past a large billboard showing a woman wearing Italy’s national flag as a face mask and the headline “All together, without fear,” in Naples, Italy, on March 22.

How Italy Snatched Health From the Jaws of Death

Those who used to scoff at its mismanagement should take note of Rome’s strategy for defeating COVID-19.

German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer speaks to the media to present the Bundeswehr's new volunteer service program on July 23, in Berlin.

Ask What You Can Do for Your Country

Western countries need national service programs, and Germany is leading the way.

A woman sits outside her nursing home in Stockholm on May 4. Sweden, whose softer approach to the coronavirus has garnered international attention, admits it has failed to adequately protect the elderly, with around half of its COVID-19 deaths occurring among nursing home residents. JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images

Sweden’s Coronavirus Failure Started Long Before the Pandemic

Many countries have criticized the Swedish government’s lax lockdown, but the deadly mistakes of defunding elder care and decentralizing public health oversight were made before anyone had heard of COVID-19.

Swedes wave flags in the Skansen open-air museum in Stockholm on June 6, 2005.

It Can’t Happen in Sweden—Even When It Does

A disastrous pandemic and the botched Olof Palme investigation have one thing in common: Swedes’ belief that they’re special.

A police officer gestures at the railway station in Stockholm on Sept. 12, 2015.

The Hidden Flaw in Sweden’s Anti-Lockdown Strategy

The government expects citizens to freely follow its advice—but not all ethnic groups have equal access to expertise.

People gather for a drink at a pub in central Stockholm

Sweden Is Open for Business During Its Coronavirus Outbreak

The Scandinavian country believes its distinctive high-trust culture will protect it from needing to shut down for the pandemic.

Dan Saelinger illustration for Foreign Policy

Can Social Democrats Save the World (Again)?

Communism and democratic socialism won’t heal today’s political divisions. But social democracy—which helped ward off extremism following World War II—could.

IG-flugscham-flying-shame-decoder-germany-climate-martina-flor

Repent for Your Frequent Flyer Miles!

Feeling guilty for the carbon burned on your last flight? The Germans have a word for that.

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at a protest rally in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 4, 2018.

The Myth of Democratic Socialism

The Nordic countries show the limits, not successes, of Bernie Sanders’s plans.

Document of the Week: When Sweden Wanted Nukes

A 1963 U.S. intelligence assessment underscores how many countries—even Sweden—were exploring nuclear weapons programs at the height of the Cold War.

James Rebhorn bowls at the Second Stage Theatres 19th Annual All-Star Bowling at Leisure Time Bowling Lanes on February 6, 2006 in New York, New York. (Scott Wintrow/Getty Images)

If You Bowl Alone, You Can’t Fight Together

National security depends on a vanishing sense of community.

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