The Swedish Sámi Parliament: A Challenged Recognition?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013
E0.02 (VOC Room) (Oost-Indisch Huis)
Andreas Gottardis , Department of Political Science, Stockholm University
Ulf Mörkenstam , Political Science, Stockholm University
When the new Instrument of Government was adopted by the Swedish Parliament in 2010, the special status of the Swedish Sámi people was recognised constitutionally for the first time. Already in 1993, however, the Swedish Sámi Parliament was established in order to grant the Sámi people cultural autonomy and today the parliament is considered to be the main body to ensure Sámi self-determination. In many ways, the situation and status of the Sámi people can be said to be highly acknowledged and recognized in Sweden. The institutionalisation of a popularly elected Sámi Parliament is also a quite radical reform in terms of recognition of a minority group in a wider European and international perspective. In a UN-report, for instance, the Sámi Parliaments in the Nordic countries were presented as important models “for indigenous self-governance and participation in decision-making that could inspire the development of similar institutions elsewhere in the world” (UN 2011, Art. 37). This recognition of the Sámi people appears, however, to be undermined by different forms of discrimination and intolerance. By looking at the media debate in Sweden since the inauguration of the Swedish Sámi Parliament in 1993, this paper will analyse how the parliament is conceptualised within the media discourse. As it is argued, the one-sided news representation is problematic, and has consequences for the political representation of the Sámi, especially in a context where the right to self-determination—what it means and ought to mean—is negotiated and re-negotiated in political practice.
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