It’s 18.30 on the 6th of November and the entrance to the faculty of social sciences is covered in colors of white, red and blue. It is still quite calm but for every minute passing, more and more people run around fixing everything in the last minute. In less than an hour the whole entrance will be full of people participating in one of the bigger political events this year, the U.S presidential election night hosted by the institution of political science at the University of Gothenburg and the Foreign Affairs Association in Gothenburg. Two hours later, the entrance is packed with people who have come to listen to lectures about the U.S, snack on some American food such as coleslaw and corn, while watching live streams from CNN and testing their knowledge about the U.S in the quiz.
Although people in Sweden in general are not afraid of expressing their critic of the United States and its political system, the presidential election clearly is of interest for most of the citizens. The presidential election is widely covered in media and many Swedes know the basic of the electoral system and which parties that are fighting for power. Even though the future of the United States has been debated lately, the interest of the election shows that the U.S still attracts the interest of people in a small country far away from Washington.
During the evening, the audience was given some mini seminars on U.S related topics with prominent speakers such as Henry Milner, Jonathan T. Polk, Andreas Bågenholm and Staffan Lindeberg.
Andreas Bågenholm gave a crash course in the American electoral system. Nicholas Charron talked about the Senate and the House of Representatives, about polarization, and he predicted that the Senate remain Democratic and the House Republican. Henry Milner talked about political awareness and the fact that a great part of the “democratic voters”-segment are non-voters. Jonathan T. Polk talked about the global public opinion and the 2012 U.S presidential election and why certain types of issues are not discussed in the American political system, such as the global public opinion towards the U.S and global warming. Staffan Lindeberg closed the short lectures with a talk on why so many Americans vote for Romney. According to Staffan, the most important reasons why there is a strong support for Mitt Romney is religion, the idea of freedom, and the cult of believing that the (federal) state is an enemy. He also talked about some of his own experiences from the time he lived and worked in Ohio, and shared a story about the gun shop owner who ran out of guns, ammunition etc the day after the 2008 election. According to the gun shop owner, the reason for this could be exemplified by a phone call he got in the morning after the election where a 78 year old lady called him saying that she wanted to buy a second AK -47, because “now that Obama won the election, he is going to take away our freedom and I need to protect myself”.
Besides from the mini-lectures, there were also a panel discussion and a mock election where the guests could vote for their favorite candidate in the election. The winning candidate of the mock election was to no one’s surprise Mr. Barack Obama, who later that night turned out to be a winner once again, this time in the real election. It seems like an old lady in Ohio needs to buy herself a third AK-47.
By Paulina Widell