Skip to content
Main menu hidden.

Elected Representatives as Victims of Crime: Legal and Institutional Paths to Protection and Remedies

Research project This project deals with violence, threats, and harassment against elected representatives in Sweden. Crimes against politicians are a serious problem, both for the individual and for democracy. The focus of the project is on the extent to which the legal and institutional protection and support to exposed politicians are equal and effective. If shortcomings are identified, potential solutions will be suggested.

In 2020, every fourth Swedish politician was exposed to violence, threats, or harassment. Actions have been taken by authorities, municipalities, and parties. It is also seen as aggravating if a crime is committed against a politician. Are these measures sufficient? This project will examine elected representatives’ opportunities for protection against being exposed to crime, to participate in criminal justice procedures when crimes are committed, and to receive support through such procedures.

Head of project

Fanny Holm
Associate professor

Project overview

Project period:

2023-01-01 2025-12-31

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Law, Department of Political Science

Research area

Law, Political science

Project description

A serious problem

Violence, threats, and harassment against elected representatives is a widespread problem in Sweden. The situation is serious and may affect democracy negatively. Violence and threats may cause elected representatives to adapt and self-censure or even choose to leave their seats before the end of their terms – or not run for re-election. Surveys carried out by the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Brå), also show that elected representatives avoid reporting some of these crimes because they fear it will lead to nothing and that the victimization or concern thereof affects them in their political work.

Risks ending up in a grey area

Authorities as well as municipalities and political parties have taken several measures to handle the situation. Moreover, in 2020, a new criminal law has been put in place establishing as an aggravating circumstance that a crime is directed against a politician. It is yet unclear to what extent elected representatives are given sufficient legal and institutional protection, among other things because elected representatives are not formally employed and therefore risk ending up in a grey area where no actor bears formal responsibility for the issue.

With an ambition to ensure equal protection and support

The project aims to further the understanding of relevant actors’ responsibility for and capacity to prevent crimes against elected representatives, investigate crimes committed against elected representatives and provide support to elected representatives through legal procedures. Drawing on interdisciplinary perspectives from law and political science, the method includes analysis of legal sources, other written material such as action plans and police reports, and interviews with central actors. The focus is on the extent to which legal and institutional protection and support provided are equal and effective. To the extent shortcomings are identified, potential solutions will be suggested.


Latest update: 2023-05-16