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Life-saving communication

| By Björn Lindahl, Editor-in-chief

The Corona pandemic continues its impact on Nordic citizens, who so far have supported their own governments and other authorities. In Iceland’s second city Akureyri, party politics have even been put aside and all political parties have joined forces on the city council.

"We began by agreeing on how to communicate," Hilda Jana Gísladóttir, who heads the social democratic party in the city, told the NLJ's Guðrún Helga Sigurðardóttir.

Many Nordic citizens look with horror at the polarisation ravaging the USA right now, where presidential debates are more about who can shout the loudest than what policies should be pursued. If you ask Icelanders, they at least do know what they want to see – 91% would have voted for Jo Biden as the next President of the USA if they could, and only 9% would have voted for Donald Trump, according to a survey carried out by Zenter on commission from Fréttablaðið.

Nordic politics are undergoing more of a split in various directions. More political parties are emerging, despite rules for minimum support in order to get into parliament. Some are leaving established parties to set up new ones, and some swap one party for another. Social media make it possible to gain attention for issues which established parties have been ignoring. In Norway, one such issue has been toll roads, which led to the setting up of a toll roads party, as you can read in Bjørn Lønnum Andreassen’s report.

The Corona pandemic might have slowed this development down somewhat, but there is no doubt that it is harder for politicians to communicate to the electorate today, with far more channels and a rapid digital development that not everyone manages to keep up with. Many outside of politics are experiencing this too. Because technology is not enough.

“You need more than Zoom or Teams,” writes Fayme Alm, who has taken a look at how video conferences are being made more professional. She has talked to Yasemin Arhan Modéer, and she also warns that too many online meetings can be detrimental to people’s health.

"We have seen people attending seven to eight meetings a day with no break or food, and they burn out,” says Yasemin Arhan Modéer. 

Nordic occupational health authorities have for several years had a group that studies what work environments might look like in future. They have now presented their report. Some of the technological development seems to come straight out of a science fiction movie – or how about controlling a computer with your thoughts? Other new technologies are more hands-on.

Gunhild Wallin has tested a Swedish-made robot glove which can give people who have lost movement in their hand new strength. It can also help industry workers avoid future work-related strain injuries. She describes how it feels to wear the glove and talks to the developers. 

Denmark’s government wants to execute a pension reform which would give people who started working at an early age the opportunity to retire early on a state pension, no matter what their doctor says. Marie Preisler has met a man and a woman in this group and explains why the reform has become a hot political potato in Denmark. 

According to the Danish Minister of Employment Peter Hummelgaard, this is meant to help people who have performed hard physical work get a few good years as pensioners, after having struggled and paid their taxes for many years.

Moving money around can, of course, be tiring. Yet physical stain is not usually what hits the richest in society particularly hard. A new report from Statistics Norway shows that the richest Norwegians are considerably richer than what was previously thought. Lars Bevanger has the story from the people behind the report. The question is how long it will take before similar calculations are done in the other Nordic countries?


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