Sametinget: en institutionell analys

by Iacobaeus, Helena

Abstract (Summary)
The Saami, a Nordic indigenous people scattered over four countries, has for centuries been regarded as parts of the national populations of the countries in which they live. During the 19th century saami demands for greater influence resulted en several changes, among them the founding of a Swedish Saami Council in 1993. The council became a popularly elected, representative institution with an agenda of its own, but also a public authority answerable to the government. The decision to attribute the council this twofold role was unusual and, from a certain point of view, even controversial: it makes it difficult to determine the location of the power to act in saami-related issues and the legitimacy to do so.This essay is about how the twofold role came into existence, what it leads to and how the seemingly contradictive duality is managed. It has an institutional approach with theories concerning institutions and etnicity as well as institutional change and handling of complicated and ambiguous demands. Among the theorists are Karppi, Micheletti, Jacobsson and Sahlin-Andersson. The previous two treat the possibilities and the shortcomings of the multicultural democracy. The later deals among other things with decision making and with changes in politics and public administration.The council was presented as the main solution of the problem that the Saami felt a lack of influence. However it was not welcomed by all main Saami figures. The founding of a council with a twofold role can be explained by governmental pressure at the time for a Saami Council working on governmental terms. This essay emphazises the efforts of the state to meet Saami demands without losing influence over a group long seen as a part of the national population.It is my opinion that the case of the Saami Council is an example of the difficulties in the multicultural democracy. It is problematic when a group is “given” an institution by the state, among other things because it may undermine the possibilities for the group to raise objections in future conflicts. An arena attracting attention to an indigenous people in the national politics in the way the Saami Council does is, however, of great value for the Saami. It is truly a political success resulting in a new conception of the Saami and sprung from international change and a growing urge to question the legitimacy of national borders, but also from the propagation of the concept of Sápmi. One of its consequences is critique of the twofold role and suggestions of other ways to solve the situation, not only from the Saami but also from others, e. g. a governmental report. While waiting for such changes, the members of the Saami Council have created shared frameworks of interpretation and chosen to handle the twofold role by putting stress on the popularly elected part.The structure of the Saami Council is studied through legal and other formal sources and through articles and litterature commenting the results of the structure. The results are contributions to the knowledge of the Saami political state in the Swedish society and to the knowledge of the Saami Council – a young institution harbouring many possibilities for future change. They are also ment to add to the understanding of the functioning of institutions with a built-in duality.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Linköpings universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:11/24/2005

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