The fall of a moral superpower

October 6, 2006

Over the last few decades Sweden has attempted to project itself onto the world stage by being a “moral superpower” – in the words, I think, of Olaf Palme.  By its own image and example, Sweden could present a social democratic alternative to the dictatorship and rampant capitalism of both blocs.

Now Sweden has a new cabinet, and who should front Sweden’s example to the world?  Step forward Carl Bildt.  As a member of the board of Lundin Oil, Bildt will have seen first hand what it means for the world to fail in its moral responsibilities.  During his time as a board member of that company, Lundin employed child soldiers to guard its depots, supported the Sudanese government in their abuse of human rights, and was accused of complicity in the slave trade.

Well done Sweden – the country of the New Caring Sharing Moderate Tories – you are an example to us all.


Sweden votes: and votes the wrong way

September 17, 2006

The main exit poll has now been published in Sweden and it is bad news.  The poll – which has a margin of error of three points – puts the right-wing Alliance two points ahead.  So it could be close – in fact the left could really be one point ahead.  But really, it also means the right could be five points up.  The Alliance are put at 48.6%, with the left bloc on 46.7%.

The breakdowns for those really interested in Swedish politics are: for the Alliance, the Centre Party 8% (up 2), the Christian Democrats 8% (down 1), the Liberals 7% (down 6), and the Moderates 27% (up 12).  For the left bloc, the Social Democrats 34% (down 5), the Greens 6% (up 1) and the Left Party 6% (down 3).

If these figures are right, it would result in a new Riksdag group of 182 seats for the right, with the left on 167 seats.  In Swedish terms, with firm parliamentary group discipline, this is a strong majority that would in all likelihood last for a full four year term.

However, as ever with exit polls, there is the health warning that these are not actual results.  The counting of real votes has gotten underway, with the first results coming out in around one hour.  A majority of votes will have been counted by 9pm our time with all counting due before midnight. 

Rösta Sosse!

September 16, 2006


Sweden votes tomorrow, with the polls still neck and neck after a hard fought campaign. 18% of voters remain undecided and the expected level of turnout – of crucial importance to the left – is very unclear.

Tomorrow will see traditional voting day campaigning – handing out the ballot papers that voters place inside their unique ballot envelope in the booth, with everyone on tenterhooks.  It didn’t have to be this way, but the poor campaign of the left, and the much more effective campaign from the right has led to a situation where one of the most successful governments in the world risks losing power.

Firstly, the Swedish right has run an excellent campaign.  They have tacked to the centre so aggressively, the International Herald Tribune jokingly said “The conservative/liberal opposition this time has decided it can’t overthrow Swedish socialism – it can just say it will make it run better”.  They have picked some superb policies to push (maternity leave, tax breaks for the poor), and have maintained real discipline between the four pretty divergent members of the coalition.

Secondly, the left ran a poor campaign.  Instead of continuing to attack the problems in society and saying “lots done, lots left to do”, the Social Democrats allowed themselves to get into a row over how high Swedish unemployment is.  Like getting into a debate with the police over how many hard drugs its okay to take, this debate has not been massively helpful.  Another factor in the poor campaign has been the Swedish PM Goran Persson.  Persson is in a similar position to Blair in 2005 – he is unpopular, untrusted and unliked.  However, unlike 2005, the social democrats do not have a Gordon Brown to rescue them.

While the right has successfully sold itself as a new labour party (literally- “nya arbetarpartiet”), with talk of increasing equality, helping the elderly and getting people into work, it is actually a classic neo-liberal party – aiming to cut taxes and cut spending on public services, force people to take low paid jobs regardless of their health, and to scrap an enviromental policy aimed at making Sweden break its oil dependency.

As Neil Kinnock may well say: “If Fredrik Reinfeldt wins on tomorrow – I warn you not to be ordinary, I warn you not to be young, I warn you not to fall ill, I warn you not to get old.”

It’s all down to the 18% undecided.  If they vote, we will win.  If they stay on the sofa, Sweden will be in for a rough ride.

The Daily has a reporter stationed in a pub in Stockholm with a mobile to phone early exit polls in tomorrow – first rough estimated results posted around 7.30 UK time.

Swedish Tories struggling to be cuddly

August 31, 2006

An interesting Swedish election story via Eric Sundstrom (third story down) reaches the newsroom.  A candidate for the Moderate Party (the Swedish version of those Tories) has been caught out in a news management incident – a little like the one we had here last year, when a Tory in Dorset changed a slogan from a cuddly pro-immigrant one, to a nasty dog whistle, kick them out message. 

It was not so much tampering with a photo in Sweden. The candidate in question, Agneta Östman-Wenger, fired off a stroppy email to her local paper to complain that the photo they had printed showed her surrounded by kids with dark hair.  She demanded that in future they show her surrounded by blonde, “true Swedish” kids.

Are UK Tories thinking what their Swedish friend was thinking?

Scandinavian disappointment

July 28, 2006

Checking through yesterday’s search terms that people used to get onto this blog. On the list is “adult swedish-blogs”. All I can say is someone must have been very disappointed.