At the initiative of Swedish Delegation to the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference (BSPC), a seminar was held on the theme of Democracy in a Changing Media Landscape. 60 people from national and regional parliaments from around the Baltic Sea participated in the seminar. Issues such as disinformation, fake news and the freedom of the press were on the agenda.
Swedish presidency of the BSPC
Sweden has the Presidency of the BSPC in 2020–2021. The theme of the Swedish Presidency is "Sustainable democracy - how to face a changing world", and its focus is on various aspects of democracy. On Monday 1 February, a digital seminar was held with special focus on the challenges and possibilities for democracy in a changing media landscape. Sweden was represented at the seminar by members of the Riksdag Pyry Niemi (Social Democratic Party), Cecilie Tenfjord-Toftby (Moderate Party), Pernilla Stålhammar (Green Party) and Hans Wallmark (Moderate Party).
The internet makes political participation possible
The Chair of the Swedish delegation, Pyry Niemi (Social Democratic Party), introduced the seminar. Jan-Hinrik Schmidt, media researcher at the Leibniz Institute, Hamburg, gave an address in which he pointed out that the internet increases accessibility to information and makes it easier for citizens to express their opinions.
Carl Heath, former special expert for the Commission for Media and Information Literacy and Democratic Dialogue, made a contribution in which he pointed out that disinformation, propaganda and internet hate should be seen as a threat to democracy. Jack Werner, the founder of Källkritikbyrån (the Bureau for Source Criticism) participated in the seminar and spoke about such things as the danger of conspiracy theories in connection with the elections in the USA.
Press freedom under threat
Pernilla Stålhammar (Green Party) moderated the second part of the seminar which was about freedom of expression, freedom of the press and the role of the media when it comes to counteracting disinformation. Professor Vaira Vike-Freiberga, former President of Latvia, gave an address on the significance of the freedom of information and its importance for democratic development.
Erik Halkjaer from Reporters without Borders also participated in the seminar and focused on the worrying decline of press freedom in Europe, and Anna-Karin Johansson, Secretary-General of the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO, emphasised the importance of a secure working environment for journalists and the importance of education and training.
Cecilie Tenfjord-Toftby (Moderate Party), Deputy Chair of the Swedish delegation, concluded the seminar. The seminar will be followed up at the annual conference to be held in August and the conclusions of the seminar will form the basis for the annual resolution to be adopted by the BSPC.
About the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference on the Riksdag website
Members of the Riksdag delegation to the Baltic Sea Conference
Contact person for the media
Johanna Ingvarsson, International Adviser, International Department of the Riksdag, telephone: +46 76 117 49 19, Email: email@example.com