New Government, Old Policies

The new Social Democratic Government-in-waiting of just 2 parties (the other is the Greens): see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swedish_general_election,_2014 (have a combined share of Riksdag votes of 38%. Löfven announced its first policy proposal for education: gymnasium to be compulsory for all children. There was an outcry against this on the grounds that it would be ineffective, as the students compelled to study for the extra years can’t be forced. He has danced back from this position and now says it will need to be looked at. This is, as far as I know, the only policy the Social Democrats have announced, and it is a real pig’s ear. This bodes ill for the future. Now Löfven and been forced to back from the whole matter because it means the money to fund the additional teachers needed would not be forthcoming:

“The move raises large question marks over the gaping hole in the Social Democrats’ budget plans, reported the TT news agency.

Throughout Löfven’s election campaign, he insisted that the tax was an inefficient use of money that could have created, for example, 10,000 teaching positions.” See http://www.thelocal.se/20141002/lfven-in-u-turn-over-restaurant-tax-hike

The other natural left-of-centre party to join the SocDems and Greens was the Left Party (V, Vänsterpartiet). But Lövfen did not even consider it. V had 5.6% of seats leaving Löfven still well short of a majority, even with the Greens. Apart from this I only began to understand what Löfven was about when rumours began that he was discussing with two of bourgeois parties – Centre with 6.6% and Liberal People’s Party (7.1%). Led by the conservative Social Democrats it will be a bourgeois government in all but name. But none of the reforms to return to higher quality education or health care will be implemented as there is no funding for them. Löfven said he will not raise the tax base.

So far the Liberals and Centre party are playing coy, so Lövfen needs another election sooner rather than later to make his minority position stronger. The Moderates are in total disarray since both Reinfeldt and Borg have announced they are leaving politics.

Nor did it take long for the Greens and Social Democrats to disagree over nuclear power. The Greens want to close 3 or 4 of the older reactors, but to do so would involve paying heavy compensation to the owners of the plants. The whole matter has been put off for now. See http://www.thelocal.se/20141001/new-coalition-agrees-on-nuclear-freeze. Effectively the Greens have had to give way on their own central policy, in return getting Minister posts in the Centre-Right Alliance?

So already the Social Democrats are having to shelve policies they can’t afford. Again, it is the 5 consecutive tax reductions by the Moderates in office for those with work that Lövfen has not been prepared to abandon. At this rate the Social Democrats will be short of money to pay for any reforms whatsoever.

http://www.thelocal.se/20141002/stefan-lofven-voted-in-as-swedens-new-prime-minister

Lövfen is of course a traditional right of centre Social Democrat, which is why he was chosen to oppose the Reinfeldt Government. It is about winning political power at any price. He has himself no seat in Riksdag, and has headed one of Sweden’s biggest and oldest trades-union, Swedish Metalworkers’ Union. Of its third of a million members, only 22% are women. For any who can read Swedish see the Union’s home page.

So far into the neoliberal era, I have no expectation that Sweden will do more than slow down the privatisation and keep a balanced budget. I don’t expect any more from Löfven, so I expect nothing much will change with the change of government. The balanced budget is now the only thing left over from the 1950s ordoliberal boom that made Sweden a per capita rich country. And even that looks to be in danger.

The situation is well expressed by Ewa Sandberg, Political Commentator in today’s Dagens Nyheter (p. 9), which the Social Democrats and Greens will have to agree a budget. It will be opposed by all the Alliance parties and perhaps also by the Left Party, disappointed at being treated like an opposition party, which means they tighten their demand for no profits in welfare. Ewa Sandberg interestingly cites the Socialist newspaper The Flame: (http://www.flamman.se/allt-forblir-som-det-var):

“If thing go on like this the Bourgeois Alliance has a good chance of making a comeback. Voters will be able to choose to return to the original which seems more secure than the copy.” (my translation).

One thing is certain: the government will be one of the weakest in Sweden’s history, while the Riksdag gains in importance relative to the Government. The Sweden Democrats hold the balance of power in the Riksdag.

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