Election Special

The Swedish Election 14 September

This post will deal with the upcoming Swedish election. For those who are unaware there is an election in Sweden on Sunday. There are a few key things that make this election somewhat exciting and controversial:

1. the center left social democrats (S) and the green party (MP) may get more votes than the center right liberals (M), (C), (FP) which would mean a change in government and party coalitions.
2. the anti-immigration party (SD) is probably going to get around 10 % of votes from dissatisfied Swedes who seems to believe "everything was better in the good old days". 
3. a small upcoming left party called feministic initiative (Fi) will maybe get into the government since many young city dwellers vote for them as a way to give voice to gender questions and gay rights.

Although Swedes seem to panic about political correctness these days, especially if you read the two largest daily newspapers, many Swedes actually vote "with their wallet" when it comes to down to it. Meaning that taxation and job creation issues are still the two main topics people care most deeply about. That is also why the center right has now been in power for 8 years because they promised to improve the Swedish economy and lower taxation. However, people now seem ready for some change. Most Swedes belong to a wealthy middle class which prioritize education and health care just as much as one percent more or less in taxes.   
party sympathies
Source: DN

Internationally the Reinfeldt, Bildt and Borg (M) government has become known for mainly their economic policies and the fact that Sweden did not suffer as much as many other countries after the 2008 financial crisis. However, while (M) certainly increased the governments budget surplus during their time in government private indebtedness has soared, especially in relation to the housing market which is now severely overheated. So while ordinary people have gotten lower taxes and more shopping malls they also have larger private debts. Moreover the attempt to open up thousands of new private schools has led to a big difference in education levels noticed in international tests. So while the center right may have done a lot for businesses and government budget not everyone feel too happy about their school and health reforms. And in the case of environmental policies a recent report showed that the  government had failed to meet 14 of 16 of the environmental goals they had set. 

Its funny to read NY Times analysis of the upcoming election. It mostly focuses on the issue of the Swedish economy and  business climate but also a bit on immigration. While the reporter isn't totally wrong i find it sad that the same argumentation goes on in every country where a right wing party claims that "businesses will flee do to increased taxation if the center left wins" which of course is totally relative and in the case of Sweden most large companies such as IKEA and HM already have shell companies located in international tax havens. Also why is no reporter questioning the assumed belief that politics should serve businesses in larger extent than the people? Large companies always complain about taxation no matter what but that does not mean that lower taxation is better for the people in terms of getting more jobs. Most large companies have totally mechanized most of the work being done in factories anyway. Also in Sweden most people work in the public sector and in small and medium companies (SMC). Moreover, one does not have to lower taxes to make it easier for SMC to hire people, one could instead make a tax shift from labor to for example heavy, extractive and polluting industries. 

Voter sympathies from 1967 to 2014, parties (top) and coalitions (below). Source: SVD

Anyway, the election campaigns so far have been more confusing than reassuring to most Swedes and the national radio broadcasting network SR reported that as of today 1/3 of Swedes are still undecided. Neither prime minister candidates have much charisma and (M) and (S) are basically so alike that people cannot tell their policies apart any longer. The smaller parties evoke more excitement from the public but also gets scrutinized harder by the media since there are some nut jobs the parties tries to get rid of just before election day. Most of the frenzy is of course about the SD party members since some have shady backgrounds in xenophobic organizations. Due to recent wars and conflicts (e.g. Syria, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Afghanistan) Sweden is likely to accept an even larger number of immigrants in the future (Sweden has one of the highest immigration numbers in the whole EU) which the SD party uses to scare people to vote for them, promising "all problems will go away when immigration numbers go down". Which is of course nuts! But segregation is a real problem that neither party has handled very well so more and more voters seem to vote for SD out of general dissatisfaction. However, one should not be fooled just because the party has cleaned up their act somewhat, they are still against most sound democratic things such as immigration, gay rights and abortion rights. 

Many commentators believe the red (S) and greens (MP) will win the majority, but much indicates it will be a close call. No party has addressed the very important question of what to do with our nuclear power plants, which are now old (40 years or so), should we replace them or turn to more solar, wind, water? Also no party has made any real suggestions how to lower unemployment, maybe they want to have some unemployment to keep inflation down. Moreover many parties seem to promise reforms which they are not sure how to fund, poor math skills is something politicians are well known for unfortunately. And finally, Swedish politicians may talk green but we are starting to fall behind, for example in protecting biodiversity and establishing nature reserves.  


Out of the ashes into the fire

0 kommentarer: