Tragedy or Chivalrous Romance? The Swedish Government and the Baltic Sea Pipeline

in Nature and Culture
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When Sweden was confronted with the idea of building a gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea, the Swedish government found itself in a paradoxical situation. Should it give in to strong foreign interests and abandon its proudly held line of environmental policy, or stick to its profile at the risk of earning a powerful adversary? This narrative analysis, building on the government's official narratives, explains how and why the self-proclaimed environmental guardian of the sea ended up having it both ways. By using strategies of depoliticization, polarization, and parallel storytelling, the Swedish government surrendered narrative power to its antagonist, alternated between incompatible views of its own political capability, and added a happy ending to the pipeline tragedy. These strategies enabled the government to make an environmentally controversial decision without losing prestige or abandoning its ethical profile regarding the Baltic Sea.