TL: The Finnish Referendum

A few linguistic thought about the Scandinavian languages. The survival of distinct Swedish and Norwegian language are realistic, but I also think it’s more complex than that. What we think of as Norwegian and Swedish language reforms in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Here with a closer union it will likely grow more complex. What I write here is just a very broad explanation of the development of Norwergian, and in reality it’s far more complex.

What we think of as standard Norwegian the so called bokmål (book language) written standard was pretty much Danish until after independence. I suspect both Swedish and Norwegian will stay more conservative. Which means standard Norwegian keep a more Danish written standard and likely keep the older name Riksmål.

At the same time western Norwegian dialect adopted a different written standard the so-called Nynorsk (New Norwegian). This will beside Norway likely spread to the Faroe Islands, which will mean that the Faroese language won’t exist in this world, but simply be a Norwegian dialect. So no Faroese national identify.

Icelanders are proud of their language and independent minded, their language will survive unchanged and we will li also see Iceland get autonomy from Norway.

I expect that with a closer union, there will be developed a unified Nordic written standard let’s call it Samnordisk, likely a compromise between Riksmål and Swedish. This written standard will mostly used in publication meant for the entire union and will likely be the one taught to Finnish speaker outside majority Swedish speaking areas and by people learning Scandinavian languages outside the union. Swedish, Riksmål and Nynorsk will instead be used in regional media and publications. Denmark will likely make use of Samnordisk in similar way. This is of course very clumsy, but a similar situation functioned that way in Norway.

The existence of Samnordisk will be the factor keeping the other written standards conservatives, as the linguists will focus on Samnordisk, leaving the traditional standards in peace.
 
@Jürgen - IIRC, an earlier post mentioned that Greenland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands were not annexed along with Norway proper. Therefore, I assume that they remained with Denmark, as per OTL.
 
@Jürgen - IIRC, an earlier post mentioned that Greenland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands were not annexed along with Norway proper. Therefore, I assume that they remained with Denmark, as per OTL.
Ah I misread it, in that case they develop pretty much like OTL linguistic. Icelandic independence on the other hand depend on a lot of factors (1848 revolution in Denmark, WWI and WWII) so I would need to know more about TTL Denmark to make a guess of a alternative development.

Also another linguistic development without the loss of Finland, the term Scandinavian never develops and Scandinavian languages would simply be called Nordic/North Germanic languages.
 
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20th August

Devvy

Donor
Nordic Broadcasting Corporation
20th August: What colour will your passport be in future?

If you live in Finland (and are Nordic!), your passport like the rest of us across the Nordics will be blue. It's always been blue for us, dating back decades, and looks likely to continue that way. But if Finland votes for independence, what will happen to the passports for those living in Finland? And what of citizenship itself?

The Nordic Citizenship Laws enacted by Parliament, in simplified terms allows the conferring of Nordic nationality onto any person born in the Nordics to a legal resident, anyone whose parent is a Nordic citizen and has lived in the country for at least 6 years, and of course anyone who meets the naturalisation requirements laid down in Naturalisation Laws. If Finns vote for independence, the government in Stockholm has already laid out that it will not deprive anyone of citizenship; therefore all Finnish residents would retain their Nordic citizenship unless they specifically choose to renounce it. However, this also implies by omission that anyone born after a theoretical independence day will not be a Nordic citizen, but would be a citizen of the "new" Finland. The Finnish government has confirmed that existing residents of Finland would be able to apply for a new "Finnish" citizenship post-independence, and they would accept dual nationality. Whether or not the large amount of Swedish-speakers in Finland, estimated to be around a quarter of the population, will want to apply for Finnish nationality is an open question which has not been covered much by pollsters. It's likewise currently unclear whether people born in Finland, but currently living elsewhere in the realm (or the world) would be able to apply for any new Finnish citizenship.

It sounds simple, but warnings come from the Nordic foreign minister. "Any new 'Finnish' nationality would lose the advantages of the Nordic nationality. Visa-free travel to dozens of countries worldwide, not to mention the European bloc would be at risk. And this says nothing of the Reciprocal Travel Zone between the Nordics and the United Kingdom, or the Kattegat Agreement with Denmark. Any alteration to existing arrangements to cover a divergent Finland would need the agreement of each signatory. Even maintaining passport free travel between the new Finland and the rest of the Nordics would have to be considered; it would depend upon the security of the border Finland decides to enact." The Finnish Spokesman for European Affairs is more upbeat "All European countries recognise Finland as a modern, stable and prosperous nation, which is currently in alignment with all European countries. I don't foresee any issue in allowing Finland to access the same advantages we currently have under the Nordic passport, and see potential advantages in allowing better agreements with Russia. And any talk of losing the travel privileges to the rest of the Nordics are just that; idle talk and bluster. There are plenty of families spread across the Gulf, let alone the myriad of cross-Gulf workers, and neither Abo nor Stockholm will want to place barriers between loved ones."

It is true that a sovereign Finland could enact it's own citizenship laws, and open the doors wide to immigration; something it isn't completely allowed to do currently, whilst Stockholm controls the citizenship and immigration systems, although some powers on immigration have now been devolved. The systems have historically always been focussed west from the Baltic; the Anglo-Nordic relationship has always been special - particularly so for the Nordics generally (Norway & Sweden in particular), but not so much for Finland who has no North Sea coastline. Finnish relations have always been with an eye to the bear in the east; the long border of Russia looms large, usually with a somewhat neutral, but wary, appearance - a centuries old quid-pro-quo "don't bother me and I won't bother you" attitude, although as the Russian economy has rapidly grown, cross-border relations have grown more important. Finnic Nationalists have long decried the Stockholm administered immigration system; although they can nominate specific applicants to immigrate to Finland, they are still at the mercy of Swedish officials to sign off on the application, and applications are not infrequently denied for reasons ill explained, unlike the Nordic overall immigration system. The Finnish government says it needs to continue attracting high skilled immigrants to continue growing the economy - and continue growing the country outside of the A-H-T triangle.

The centuries long detachment of much of Karelia from Finland, which still sits within Russia as an autonomous area, means many nationalist Finns still look east to the Karelians with their shared culture for which, they argue, is untainted by other Scandinavians. Whether it is now tainted by Russian influences very much depends on your personal outlook.
 

Devvy

Donor
A few linguistic thought about the Scandinavian languages. The survival of distinct Swedish and Norwegian language are realistic, but I also think it’s more complex than that. What we think of as Norwegian and Swedish language reforms in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Here with a closer union it will likely grow more complex. What I write here is just a very broad explanation of the development of Norwergian, and in reality it’s far more complex.

What we think of as standard Norwegian the so called bokmål (book language) written standard was pretty much Danish until after independence. I suspect both Swedish and Norwegian will stay more conservative. Which means standard Norwegian keep a more Danish written standard and likely keep the older name Riksmål. At the same time western Norwegian dialect adopted a different written standard the so-called Nynorsk (New Norwegian).

I expect that with a closer union, there will be developed a unified Nordic written standard let’s call it Samnordisk, likely a compromise between Riksmål and Swedish. This written standard will mostly used in publication meant for the entire union and will likely be the one taught to Finnish speaker outside majority Swedish speaking areas and by people learning Scandinavian languages outside the union. Swedish, Riksmål and Nynorsk will instead be used in regional media and publications. Denmark will likely make use of Samnordisk in similar way. This is of course very clumsy, but a similar situation functioned that way in Norway. The existence of Samnordisk will be the factor keeping the other written standards conservatives, as the linguists will focus on Samnordisk, leaving the traditional standards in peace.
I have language on my list of subjects to cover at some point, but broadly speaking I agree with you. I particularly see similarities between English and Scots; Norwegian will be increasingly seen as dialect of Swedish rather then a completely separate language; as written media and definitely radio & television are introduced, more and more Swedish words will enter the Norwegian vernacular. Pronunciation and word choice will still mark a person as Norwegian, but they'll be far more mutually intelligible. A common written standard for both, called for the sake of this post "Samnordisk" ( ;) ) is an obvious evolution at some point leaving the old written standards existing but mostly unused except for literary purposes.

This will beside Norway likely spread to the Faroe Islands, which will mean that the Faroese language won’t exist in this world, but simply be a Norwegian dialect. So no Faroese national identify.

Icelanders are proud of their language and independent minded, their language will survive unchanged and we will li also see Iceland get autonomy from Norway.
@Jürgen - IIRC, an earlier post mentioned that Greenland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands were not annexed along with Norway proper. Therefore, I assume that they remained with Denmark, as per OTL.
Ah I misread it, in that case they develop pretty much like OTL linguistic. Icelandic independence on the other hand depend on a lot of factors (1848 revolution in Denmark, WWI and WWII) so I would need to know more about TTL Denmark to make a guess of a alternative development.

Also another linguistic development without the loss of Finland, the term Scandinavian never develops and Scandinavian languages would simply be called Nordic/North Germanic languages.
In bulk; whilst I could see a successful Sweden (hold fire a couple more days for the next chapter which will cover Napoleonic Wars) grabbing Norway as prime focus of Swedish foreign policy and a prize for being a steadfast enemy of Sweden alongside Britain, I think taking Greenland, Iceland and the Faroes might be a bit much upon Denmark (similar to OTL). So I've left them as per OTL, transferred to the Danish Crown. Whether they later switch to the Nordics is an open question currently (it's possible, although I'm far from certain on it).

Icelandic will be free to continue not developing and remain basically as the medieval Viking language. As much as I would love an excuse to bring Iceland in to the Nordics so I can talk about it and present an ATL Iceland, I can't see it happening at least in the Napoleonic Wars, but given Denmark will be tied in to the destiny of Germany, it's at least possible later on. A careful read of the TL posts so far will note that anything written in "current times" refers to Norway, Sweden, Finland, and "the islands" (definitely at least Aland Islands and Svalbard, but could cover other islands too if needed!).
 
21st August

Devvy

Donor
Nordic Broadcasting Corporation
21st August: "How we came to be, Part 1"

Gustav IV of Sweden

Gustav IV came to the throne in 1792, and later formally crowned in 1800. He is today known as the "Nation Builder" in light of his success in defending Finland and following conquest of Norway, but the real story is more complex. He was a steadfast ally of Britain, continually opposing Napeleonic France, and despising Napoleon himself - repeatedly calling him "Monsieur Bonaparte". His steadfast loyalty to the Anglo - Swedish alliance was duly recognised by Britain, who aided Sweden in the de facto recognition of Norway as part of the Swedish Kingdom in the post-Napoleon Congress of Vienna, and then enduring Anglo-Nordic relationship.

During the Napoleonic Wars, with Gustav IV personally disgusted at the actions in revolutionary France and later figurehead in Napoleon, Gustav IV took a firm view against France. Whilst he likely had a rose-tinted view of Swedish military power - which had been found lacking in the 18th century as Russia pecked off parts of Finland. His primary actions early on though were suitable aims for a middling power; allowing foreign forces to use Swedish Pomerania and concluding alliances with major powers (Britain and old time enemy Russia).

The War of the Fourth Coalition saw further action in Swedish Pomerania, with attacks and counter-attacks between Sweden and France, before the Swedish Army concluded a ceasefire, and withdrew to Swedish shores, marking the (from a historical perspective) the end of Swedish rule on the Continent. Further actions during the war saw the French sweep east through Prussia and engage in a decisive battle with Russian forces at Friedland. A decisive victory for the French saw Russia capitulate and agree to join the French Continental System, and end hostilities against France. From Gustav's point of view, this was a disaster.

Worse was to come, as Russia, with French support, duly invaded Swedish Finland, whilst Gustav IV contracted a virus and was ill. In a time when monarchs were expected to lead the military personally, this was a disaster for Gustav at the time, but in hindsight the absence of royal interference allowed army staff to plan the defence of Finland themselves. The Defence of Sveaborg (and later reinforcement by the Royal Navy), followed by a successful and now legendary Defence of Turku turned the tide of the Russian invasion. Guerilla actions in the hinterland were a constant frustration to the Russian forces, whilst an effective Swedish Army began to press the Russians back. The Defence of Turku (Abo to Finns) proved inspiring, and there was nothing more effective then an inspired soldier.Aided by the Royal Navy in the Baltic Sea and Gulf of Finland, the Russians were pressed back further and further. A later Treaty of Vyborg between Sweden and Russia saw revisions to the earlier Treaty of Abo, with some territory granted back to Sweden (*1), and also saw Russia exit the Continental System for trade with Sweden, but Britain was eager to not humiliate Russia and keep them in the fight against the larger enemy; France.

Following this, Denmark-Norway had also been at war with Sweden, and it was only with British reinforcements in southern Sweden that the Swedish Army had been able to operate freely in Finland. Removing the "dagger at the heart of Sweden" had been a central foreign policy aim of Swedish officials for decades, and the state of war brought the ideal opportunity for another attempt. Norway was technically within the Continental System, and thus blockaded by the Royal Navy, sapping food and resources from the territory. The Swedish Army ploughed in to Norway, aiming straight for Christiania. A semi-spirited defence, opposing a tiring Swedish Army, saw discussions over a peace treaty, but with Britain supporting Sweden, the writing on the wall was clear. The retention of the Norwegian legal system, and some vague promises over autonomy (later deemed as fulfilled by having a Governor-General of Norway) were the best Norway could achieve, and so Norway was annexed by Sweden, with Denmark unable to do anything except protest with no real army or navy to speak of. Denmark was left with the periphery of the Norwegian Crown; the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland.

Norwegian - now "Swedish" merchants - were now outside of the Continental System, and by flying the Swedish flag, could pass the Royal Navy and freely trade with Britain. This would bring in food and resources once more - a quick and visible win for both Sweden (politically) and Norway (practically), whilst trade immediately began over the new internal border between Sweden and Norway. At this time, the country was still the Kingdom of Sweden, but it would rapidly turn Nordic in time.

Gustav IV would rule until 1818, seeing the Congress of Vienna after the Napoleonic Wars formally grant Sweden dominion over Norway. His success over foreign matters is a simplification of terms; the King actually played little part in the military successes that consolidated the Kingdom, but as monarch it was always in his name. As a more conservative King then his predecessors, domestic affairs were not a great triumph for Gustav IV, and most of the final years of his reign before his early death at the age of 40 due to sepsis was spent trying to consolidate the unitary Swedish Kingdom. His rule saw the continuation of the Swedish Instrument of Government from 1772 granting significant powers to the King to act as an autocrat; he never opened a second session of Riksdag after 1800 when he was crowned.

The Haga Great Palace in Stockholm's Hagaparken also dates back to the post-Napoleonic era of Gustav IV, built as a summer retreat in the large park for Gustav IV. In building the palace, Gustav IV ended up completing two of his father's significant projects; the unification of Norway and Sweden, and the building of the palace. Haga Castle was later referred to the Swedish state during the 20th Century during a financial "slimming" of the Royal Family estate, where it now serves as a Swedish Royal Museum, showing off a wide selection of the Royal Art collection of sculptures and artwork, Nordic literature and a substantial later collection from the Norse period.


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(*1) My estimate (open to revision) would be granting Hamina and Lappeenranta back to Sweden/Finland, as well as the Olavinlinna Castle. This would leave the Treaty of Nystad in place, and perhaps a third of the land of the later Treaty of Abo in Russian hands.
 
23rd August

Devvy

Donor
Nordic Broadcasting Corporation
23rd August: Finnic Day Column

Today sees the celebrations for the Finnish national day, celebrated with a public holiday within Finland, and all public buildings fly the Finnish cross. By tradition the heir to the throne, in lieu of the reigning monarch, hosts a state banquet in Duchy Hall in Abo, with most of the elite of Finnish society in attendance. Customary dress and the Finnish prose is in full display at the banquet; historically a chance for the heir, started by Gustav V when Crown Prince in an effort to embrace the Finnish side of his kingdom, to display his/her knowledge of the Finnish language to the subjects of the eastern realm in preparation for the throne, and even today the reigning King or Queen is expected to be fluent in both Swedish and Finnish languages. The state banquet, and Swedish Royal pageantry itself, is both an item of prestige if you're invited, and something to be ignored if not.

More ignored then not, it seems, if you are a Finnic Nationalist, who held a new press conference in the afternoon at Sveaborg to highlight their independent credentials, backing from 100 business leaders who have signed up to their charter, and "potential for the future". They added: "What is important about this charter - signed by businesses large and small, from the north and south, from Swedish and Finnish speaking areas, was the real drive and zeal some of our greatest businesses have with regards to Finland's prospects as an independent country. The future for each and every individual in this country is at the heart of independence, and making sure they have a future in Finland is a key argument for independence."

The sceptical amongst Finns might find it slightly fortunate that Finnic Day is in the run up to the Finnish referendum - a chance for the Finnic Nationals to beat their chests, take pride in all things Finnish, and generally "talk up Finland". Reality is rarely that simple however. Finnic Day dates back to the Napoleonic Wars; to the legendary "Defence of Abo" at the capital against the invading Russians, where (the story goes) Finnish soldiers supported by local militia held back a numerically superior army. The fact that the Russian did actually hold Abo for a short length of time is conveniently forgotten amongst the celebrations, but the overall long term defence of the capital was a defining point for the Finnish region within the Swedish/Nordic Realm. It is widely thought that this day, later used as well to inaugurate devolution and "Home Rule" for Finland later in the century, helped bring forward the distinct Finnish national identity, as separate from their Swedish overlords - and Swedish speaking neighbours. In later years, Finnicizing previously Swedish names was common amongst Finnish speaking families, and the many other Finnicization moves during the late 19th Century brought a real national awakening to the area.

A range of traditions take place on the day; being a public holiday, much of the public, or at least those who aren't preparing for the state banquet, are free to partake in a range of activities. Cruises around the Abo bay islands in the evening summer sun for a traditional dinner and plenty of liquid refreshment is popular, whilst many will spend the long weekend in summer houses in the countryside, with good time spent in the sauna with spirits. The time in the sauna usually brings forth conversation with those you know well, and this year's timing will undoubtedly herald at least some independence discussions, especially with numbers closing on each other. Expect a rise in polling for the nationalists with Finnic Day as a background; whether it lasts longer is more uncertain as head and heart continue to collide.

Opinions elsewhere to the question on the Finnish mind continue to vary. From Norwegian reluctance and desire for the Finns to balance the union, Swedish (and Swedish-Finns) desire for the Finns to stay, to the Islands complete disinterest; "more subsidy for the rest of us"; opinion polls do little to capture the full range of feelings on display. Whilst many wish for the continued unity of the Nordic Realm (minus the Nordic Germans to the south as some would describe them), the economic and financial benefits of working together, the stability it brings, the "Nordic Liberties" in contrast to Karelia, the heart for many continues to seek a Finnish nation, outside the control of Scandinavian interests, European (including Russia) orientated rather then Atlantic-orientated.

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23rd August: Overseas News

Protests have erupted in Poland, following the death of a shopkeeper in Warsaw last week. The shopkeeper, supposedly killed in an altercation with local Russians. The funeral of the shopkeeper yesterday flared tensions, with many locals protesting about the large number of Russians who have settled in Warsaw and the Soviet Army presence in Poland - particularly around the capital. The riots have also been linked with rising food prices and political control of the media, of which growing mobile phone usage and messaging has made control of information increasingly difficult for the Soviet authorities.

Yesterday evening, large groups of people in Warsaw Central Square were seen advocating for new elections for the Polish Soviet Council whilst government officials from inside called for calm and cancelled public events - including sporting fixtures - during the week. Police have reportedly fired in to the air and above heads in the square in an effort to dispel crowds, but this seems to have had the opposite effect and galvanised locals as well as attracting more protestors, angry at Russian interference in the Polish political system. 21 people have reportedly already been killed in the unrest, although it's not clear at the moment the causes of death, and locals are saying there are more unreported deaths.

Overnight, the situation further deteriorated, with significant rioting and looting of the central district in Warsaw, with running confrontations with police forces and stones thrown aplenty. Police responded with tear gas and batons, charging lines of protestors only for them to quickly reform. The local Soviet Governor has asked for calm whilst the political situation is "reformed in line with public attitude", and has reportedly asked the Army to be put on alert, whilst condemning those who engage in violence as terrorists and "they will be treated as such".

The Nordic Foreign Minister has condemned the use of violence and force in Poland by both sides and urged for peace and dialogue, whilst privately noting that Warsaw currently resembles a tinderbox with further escalations possible. The position of the Nordics will be sorely tested over this incident, with their record of human rights and democracy is weighted against the relationship with the Soviet Union which looms across a border over a thousand kilometres long and whose military is far more powerful. With the referendum just over 2 weeks away now, Finnic Nationals must be cursing the poor timing of this instability in their closest neighbour. The only comment from the Finnish Premier at the moment is that "this is an internal issue for the Soviet Union, and we deplore the use of violence by all sides.", whilst they formulate a position following the Finnic Day festivities.

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Notes:
So yes there is still a Soviet Union in this TL which has been more economically liberal (like China), but politically has stayed conservative. The SU is also larger then OTL, probably with several Warsaw Pact nations inside the Union, and clearly Poland is inside, and is the location for these riots.

Also, just to make sure I get over the line with this, I've shortened the first post to referendum schedule to *4 weeks then the previous 6.
 
24th August

Devvy

Donor
Nordic Broadcasting Corporation
24th August: Who is your doctor?

Healthcare has been one of those various policy areas which sits in both Nordic-policy and devolved/Finnish-policy areas. As anyone who pays tax in the Nordics, they will see the Nordic Healthcare surcharge in their payslips, which largely funds much of the cost of healthcare across the entire Nordic realm. Stockholm sets the funding, and administers a few large scale realm-wide programmes and setting realm-wide healthcare standards, but much of the funding goes to the regional healthcare schemes for which the devolved governments set policy direction. The system does guarantee universal healthcare from "bump to ground" as the infamously black Nordic humour would put it, and generally scores highly in results although there, as always, regional differences and issues which are masked by the overall score.

Are there issues in the system which need addressing in Finland? Undoubtedly, says the Finnish Health Minister. "These scores are averages, and mask real inequality within society. Despite grandious moves and new hospitals in the cities, society at large needs better access to healthcare professionals in the local community. Doctors, nurses, psychiatrists - they are all needed closer to home, rather then making a trek. It is far easier to prevent a problem then cure it later." Finland has made real progress in the area of primary care and community healthcare over the last 10 years, made possible by new Nordic funding mechanisms, but the dispersed population - particularly in Finnish-speaking areas - has presented real problems in the efficient delivery of healthcare.

The new leader of the Finnish-branch of the Nordic Medical Association agrees. "Whether you are for or against independence, which is a topic I'd rather stay away from, there are real problems in Finland which need addressing. Primary care and proactive medicine need real improvement within the community, to avoid the stretches and limitations which are caused by the number of people visiting hospitals for routine or low-impact issues. Such cases should really be resolved in a health centre or pharmacy."

It is no wonder therefore that Finnic National sees potential advantages in having sole control of the Finnish healthcare system. Indirect taxation on some goods is one idea to further fund healthcare services, with alcohol taxation being the prime idea behind this system. Such a mechanism is currently impossible with control of commercial taxes maintained by Stockholm in order to control and maintain the Nordic single market. However, funding is in real need of reform in Finland; the political push for investment has left costs spiralling, and there is now a shortfall in the system, which if transfer payments end (due to independence) will leave a Finnish Healthcare system financially crippled despite it's good & improving service provision.

One area which Finland would lose out on if it chose independence would be the current Electronic Patient Records scheme; a Nordic initiative to bring a single EPR system for use realm-wide, across all the different healthcare services and functions. Although still in the fledgling years, and designed from the start to be semi language-agnostic (to allow for Swedish and Finnish languages) which would largely be a wasted cost if Finland leaves, the system promises large efficiency improvements. This would be achieved via the removal of work duplication (removing the need to put the same data in to different systems), allowing faster transfers of information between separate institutions, and better proactive medicine through better understanding of a patient's status (ie. making sure all vaccinations have taken place for children).

Other policy areas seem likely to continue. The hospital specialisation system (Vasteras Hospital is a specialist in spinal injuries, Malmo specialises in heart and lung, Abo in ophthalmology) would seemingly be affected, but both Finnish and Nordic governments have stated their intention for the system to continue regardless, although the funding and payments for cross-border patients would seem a topic for intensive discussions after any "Yes" referendum result. And in a Finnish state, what would happen to the provision of Swedish-language healthcare services, provided only for a minority of the Finnish population? At the moment, it's anyone's guess.
 
25th August

Devvy

Donor
Nordic Broadcasting Corporation
25th August: "How we came to be, Part 2"

Gustav V of Sweden

If Gustav IV was the nation builder, bringing the Nordic peninsula under a single ruler and uniting the lands and peoples under one crown, then Gustav V was the unifier - and consequently (and confusingly) known in the national mindset as "Gustav the Great", as well as Gustavus the Great from the 16th Century who brought forward Sweden as a notable military power. Gustav V was very different from his parents; a thinker and a reader, quick to learn but not exceptionally gifted, and a man who not only knew his own abilities, but who also often found the challenges of being King a burden. After his father's early death, he became King in 1818 at the very early age of 19, and much of what can be recognised within the Nordic realm today can be traced back to Gustav V.

From an early age, Gustav appeared content to allow the Riksdag to advise and recommend actions to him (particularly when he felt the actions were heartfelt), and was an early advocate of recognising the three nations within the state (Norwegians, Swedes and Finns). Little happened for the first 25 years of rule however; much of the time at the start of the period was spent integrating Norway in to Sweden, and ensuring the "loyalty" of the region. One notable example was the continuing Norwegian University of Christiania which continued as the centre of Norwegian higher education. The new government also further fortified where possible the Finnish-Russian border in south-eastern Finland; the ability of the Russians to quickly spread across southern Finland had shocked much of the Swedish bureaucracy, and it was clear that substantial military reforms of the Swedish Army were needed. Reforms, and with their western border now secure, the eastern border could be more closely watched, with the centre of army operations gradually moving east, and ending with the honourary rank of "Marshall of Finland" becoming bestowed on the highest ranking Army officer in control of the border defenses.

On the whole, the period 1815-1845 was reasonably peaceful, with many remembering the long period of war at the start of the century, and many Swedes believing that Sweden was now roughly extended to it's "natural borders". Trade continued to grow with the United Kingdom, and a wary peace over the Russian border prevailed over hotter heads on both sides who wished for border revisions in their respective favours. This period of peace, and integration, was to be suddenly shaken up in the mid-1840s; a famine swept across the Nordics, followed by protests, causing mass upheaval. The traditional distrust of emigration was swept away so much that migrants began to travel to Britain in large numbers in order to make the onward journey to the United States, where large amounts of productive farmland was available and inexpensive, unburdened by the traditional structures in Sweden.

The growing number of migrants struck alarm in to the upper echelons of society and government, and it was not long before the largely literate Nordic peasants were also exposed to the ideas of liberalism and egalitarianism emanating from the European continent. The famine, emigration and ideas of liberalism all struck a chord with Nordic residents across the entire realms culminated in a series of riots and unrest, the largest of which as in Stockholm in 1848. Protesters demanded large scale reform of the Riksdag - less royal absolutism, more power for the elected officials, non-Lutherans demanded toleration next to the official Lutheran Church, and land reform continued in order for the land to be better farmed - both with crops and the burgeoning market in milk and butter.

Following the example of his wife's homeland in the Netherlands, Gustav took initiative, and suggested new measures to quell dissent with a new Instrument of Government. The Riksdag would reform in to a two chamber system, with the 1st Chamber elected by the cities and county councils - largely representing the wealthy, and the 2nd Chamber popularly elected by the voting public. This essentially quelled the majority of voting protesters, given that government would be more widely elected and the enfranchisement amongst the extremely fast growing Nordic cities would be greater. The State Council would begin moves to better advise the King on the important matters of the realm, paving the way for later ministerial responsibility and parliamentarianism, further tolerance for non-Lutheran religions was widened, and importantly free and mandatory schools began to be introduced.

In the country, industrialisation had begun; monopolies on trade were abolished, tariffs were reformed, the Swedish Krona was set on the gold standard, and a stock exchange sprang up in Stockholm. The amount of emigration had caused labour shortages in the, to this point largely manual, countryside and the result was a rapid embracing of machinery; steam powered sawmills and The result was a boom in exports and earnings, with the Nordics exporting considerable amounts of agricultural crops, wood and steel. All this required a far improved transport system, and the railway network began to connect regional centres together. The choice of gauge, unknown whether by design or accident, mirrored Russia (and later the Soviet's) 5ft gauge, rather than the British & European 4ft 8.5in gauge norm; in later years, the ramifications of this allow far more efficient transportation in the Nordics and more seamless trade with the Soviet Union, but slower freight with Europe and the United Kingdom. Despite this, the Nordics were rapidly becoming a core trading area in the "informal British Empire", trading extensively with not just the United Kingdom, but with the principal Dominions who could offer products such as grain with ease at a cheap price.

The resulting economic climate quickly slowed the rate of emigration as wages rose and work became more mechanised (and less manual) - particularly in the countryside, which became far more productive, resulting in far more food becoming available to people. People's living standards correspondingly improved, giving a substantial rate of population growth. The non-involvement by Sweden to traditional brother and rival - Denmark - during the Schleswig Wars between Denmark and Germany, was a further example of the Swedish non-interest beyond it's natural borders - and also a warning shot of getting in over your head and letting the heart overrule the head. The complete defeat of the historically strong Danish forces, even from the legendary Danevirke, in the face of a modern Prussian army caused further modernisation of the Swedish forces, and creating a modern army in Finland, and a better navy around Sweden & Norway, further bolstering it's ability to trade overseas rather than meddle in European affairs.

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Notes: Due to Sweden's "victory" in the Napoleonic Wars, I'm writing Sweden as having much of it's reforms in the early 1800s not having happened in this TL. Therefore, when the revolutions of 1848 start, Sweden is also affected more than OTL, bringing in "1848 reforms" which also help stem the emigration slightly.
 
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