A proposal for a Nordic confederation

Last updated: 12 June 2019

I have long contemplated Nordic unification, a second Kalmar Union, but based on mutual respect and 21st values concerning human rights and welfare. Such a state would be powerful beyond its sheer demographic and geographic size due to the economic strength of its constituent countries and prosperity. Individually, the Nordic countries are classified in power politics as small (Iceland) to middle powers (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden) but collectively a unified Nordic state would doubtlessly be a regional power, the whole much greater than the sum of its parts. With authoritarianism on the rise, a countering force is more important than ever in our lifetime.

In order not to alienate people, the initial steps should be to pass a short and simple confederal constitution, clearly delineating the separation of concerns between the confederation and its constituent countries. Contrast this with the European Union and the United States where integration and federal control is pushed upon their respective (member) states rather than being entirely on an opt-in basis and requiring unanimous support. The status of the associated territories Åland, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Svalbard will not be touched upon in this proposal.

Rationale

First, greater unity and co-operation between like-minded peoples. Second, greater power projection across the globe and thus ability to protect the interests of the Nordic countries. Third, a countermeasure to growing authoritarianism in the world and defence against the massive shifts that are happening in world politics.

The global dominance of the United States is waning and even though the country has often been a force for destruction and imperialism in the world, their actions have largely not been directed against the Nordic countries nor Europe as a whole. This means that a super power, that the Nordic countries have considered an ally for over half a century, will have much less influence around the world. China has already become the largest economy in the world by PPP and where China invests and spreads its influence, so grows authoritarianism and disbelief in democracy and the rule of law. In its decline, the US has embraced and promotes anti-intellectualism, pseudoscience and economic policies that exacerbate economic inequality and climate change. Germany seems to be coming to the realisation that the US is not a reliable partner anymore. The Nordic countries must prepare for a new world order, one that is quite possibly hostile to the values and interests that the Nordic countries hold dear.

Nordic Council

The NC has been a force for good in the region and brought the Nordic countries together on many issues. Where it falls short is the fact that at times it can be somewhat neglected by its member states. It also does not enable the Nordic countries to collectively influence world politics as it is not an entity (i.e. a country) within international organisations.

European Union

Were EU membership to be retained, the constituent countries would have to consolidate their association into a single membership. That would effectively by default bring Norway and Iceland into the EU. It should be done with minimal disruption to EU functions out of respect for its member states.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization

The position of NATO has been significantly weakened in recent years. Policies, actions and statements by the two nations that control the largest militaries within the organisation are the cause for this decline. Under the leadership of Donald Trump, the United States has wavered in its commitments to the fundamental responsibilities of NATO and its purpose of existence. Under the leadership of Recep Erdoğan, Turkey has shifted towards authoritarianism and adopted a more hostile stance towards some of its co-members.

As the United Kingdom exits the EU, calls for a permanent EU military are likely to increase, particularly in Germany and France. There is an increased possibility that NATO will either break up or be rendered obsolete in the near future.

Ranking

A Nordic confederation would have a strong presence in the world.

Area

Geographically, a Nordic confederation would be well above average in size.

Rank Country Area (km2)
6 Flag of Australia Australia 7,692,024
Nordic confederation (including Flag of Greenland Greenland) 3,425,804
7 Flag of India India 3,287,263
21 Flag of Niger Niger 1,267,000
Nordic confederation (excluding Flag of Greenland Greenland) 1,259,718
22 Flag of Angola Angola 1,246,700
55 Flag of Sweden Sweden 450,295
64 Flag of Finland Finland 338,424
67 Flag of Norway Norway 323,802
106 Flag of Iceland Iceland 103,000
130 Flag of Denmark Denmark 43,094

Source: List of countries and dependencies by area (English Wikipedia)

Population

Demographically, a Nordic confederation would be somewhat above average in size.

Rank
Country
Population
50 Flag of Mozambique Mozambique 27,909,798
Nordic confederation 27,278,809
51 Flag of Ivory Coast Ivory Coast 25,823,071
89 Flag of Sweden Sweden 10,255,102
112 Flag of Denmark Denmark 5,811,413
115 Flag of Finland Finland 5,518,752
118 Flag of Norway Norway 5,334,762
172 Flag of Iceland Iceland 358,780

Source: List of countries and dependencies by population (English Wikipedia)

GDP (PPP)

Economically, a Nordic confederation would be a global powerhouse.

Rank
Country
GDP (PPP) (billions of USD)
18 Flag of Iran Iran 1,610.677
Nordic confederation 1.515.163
19 Flag of Thailand Thailand 1,320.364
39 Flag of Sweden Sweden 542.037
46 Flag of Norway Norway 395.867
58 Flag of Denmark Denmark 301.319
60 Flag of Finland Finland 256.456
144 Flag of Iceland Iceland 19.484

Source: List of countries by GDP (PPP) (English Wikipedia)

Parliament

Each constituent country would retain its legislature and considerable legislative power, regardless; a confederal parliament would be required along with an executive and judiciary.

Representation

As a confederal parliamentary republic, the number of representatives in the unicameral parliament and the allocation of seats per constituent country must be agreed upon. The following is the current ratio between residents and representatives in Nordic parliaments along with a hypothetical ratio if the cube rule were followed:

Residents : Representatives ratio
Country Representatives
(currently)
Residents per representative
(currently)
Representatives
(cube rule)
Residents per representative
(cube rule)
Flag of Sweden Sweden 349 29,384 217 47,259
Flag of Finland Finland 200 27,594 177 31,179
Flag of Denmark Denmark 179 32,466 180 32,286
Flag of Norway Norway 169 31,567 175 30,484
Flag of Iceland Iceland 63 5,695 71 5,053

When representation as it is today is compared to the cube rule, the result is that Sweden and Finland have excessive representation, Denmark and Norway sufficient representation and Iceland deficient representation. A Nordic confederation of 27,278,809 people should according to the cube rule have 301 representatives. The representation could be fairly divided between the constituent countries in the following way:

Residents : Representatives ratio
Country Population
(total)
Population
(percentage)
Representatives
(cube rule)
Flag of Sweden Sweden 10,255,102 37.59% 113
Flag of Denmark Denmark 5,811,413 21.30% 64
Flag of Finland Finland 5,518,752 20.23% 61
Flag of Norway Norway 5,334,762 19.56% 59
Flag of Iceland Iceland 358,780 1.32% 4
Total 27,278,809 100.00% 301

Assuming that a term of office is 5 years, the number of representatives would have to be revised accordingly before each election.

Competences

In order to maximise support for a Nordic confederation, it should initially only be as bare-bones as possible. That way it would require as little political capital as possible to get it started and alienate as few people as possible. The minimum set of competences exclusively granted to the confederal parliament would have to be foreign policy, defence and customs (which in turn is presently mostly in the hands of the EU). Any further integration should be voluntary and mutually beneficial.