The Editor Writes Back

The Editor of has kindly written to me with his thinking behind his newsletter article that I hightlighed in The Local Gets Sensational

Here it in full with permission.

Hi Shane,

Thanks for your feedback and I’m glad you enjoy reading The Local.

When I sent the email this morning, it actually didn’t cross my mind that it could be perceived as sensationalist. Using the word “party” was simply a rhetorical device to express what is a completely new development in Swedish politics.

Prior to the last election, the centre-right parties had never run on a common election platform. While voters in 2006 could still vote for the four individual parties, they knew that a vote for, say, the Christian Democrats, was in essence a vote for the Alliance, a party-like entity that had ironed out its policies before the election.

In the same way, the Social Democrats have, until now, always favoured a minority government model and have consistently shunned the notion of official coalitions. The last time they were in power, they governed with the “support” of the Left Party and were always quick to stress that it was not a coalition government. What they are now proposing, in cooperation with the Greens and the Left, is unique in their history and essentially means they are mirroring the model that proved so successful for the Alliance. All they are lacking is a catchy name, though that will probably come soon.

As I see it, these changes have altered the Swedish political scene in two important respects:

First, there is a new political rigidity that was never there before. Previously, the Social Democrats were free to flirt with everybody from the Greens and the Left to the Centre Party and the Liberals, as they often did. But the Alliance has put paid to that.

Second, in traditional coalition politics, all the important horse trading is done after the election and the rival parties are free to tear each other to pieces until the results are counted. Sweden’s new electoral alliances instead create two distinct teams. This enables Mona Sahlin to say with great certainty that a vote for Reinfeldt is also a vote for the socially conservative Hägglund. Reinfeldt in turn can counter that a vote for Sahlin is a vote for a man who until very recently called himself a communist.

Hope this goes some way towards explaining my rationale.

Best regards,

This is a very interesting reply and I find this topic fascinating.

I wasn’t aware of the entire backdrop to this. I thought the Swedish Social Democrats had always been keen to jump into bed with those on the Left but it appears that they are just as bad as the British Labour Party in that they don’t want to power share with anyone.

That’s why Labour have never put forward any real alternatives to the ‘first past the post system’ of voting that’s used in the UK. They are as conservative as the Conservatives on this.

It’s also an interesting contrast because UK Liberals would never work with UK Conservatives on a national level. In fact in the early 70’s when Prime Minister Edward (Ted) Heath invited the Liberals to join his government, then Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe turned it down.

At the end of that decade, then Liberal leader David Steel took his Party into a disastrous alliance with the ailing Labour Government of Jim Callaghan.

I also find it fascinating that Liberals can work with the ’socially conservative’ Christian Democrats. One look at their website in English indicates they are a Party that believes in the ‘family’, I think we all know what that means.

On the other hand it’s not surprising that the Social Democrats and Greens will team up with a Leninist daydreamer like Ohly!


5 Responses

  1. Paul is absolutely right, the Swedish political scene just changed remarkably, and in a rather frightening way.

    Considering our history of a countless number of Socalist governments, things have certainly taken a scary turn when we’re now faced with the possibility of in fact getting a Socialist-Communist govt in the next election, and the ones following…

    One can only hope that the Swedes (of which I am one) smarten up and realize that a vote for Mona now also means a vote for a man who looks up to Josef Stalin, who wants to increase Swedish taxes by 20 billion SEK, and who’s party is full of dreamers with no clear solutions to any of the country’s (let alone the world’s) problems. I mean they even want to dissolve the European Union for crying out loud!!!

    Fingers crossed the Alliance steps up to the challenge and delivers.

  2. Yes Mr Oily looks dangerous indeed and with rhetoric like that he will probably do more harm than good on the ticket.

    If you are middle of the road what would worry you more? The social conservatism of the Christian Democrats or the massive tax hikes Oily is shouting for…..

    Are the Alliance geared up to take on the Social Democratic dinosaur? Will be a tough fight.

    I dont have a vote, but it will still be an important election for exiles, when it comes down to tax, I am very interested. When it comes down to how it will affect the company I work for then I am even more interested…..

  3. I don’t believe in affirmative action so I don’t support Mona Sahlin who was chosen as the leadership candidate because she was a woman. Even then she was bottom of the all-woman short-list since the others turned the job down. She then went through the sham of a single candidate election to become leader and (given Sweden’s electoral history) Sweden’s likely next PM.

    Democracies are imperfect but the above is an extreme example of an unmeritocratic process. At no stage did she have to stand up in front of her party and put forward her ideas and defend them in an open competition.

    I find it hard to believe she’s the best choice for a future PM – especially given her previous record.

  4. That kind of thing has crept in back home a lot Dave. I am a true Liberal in the sense that I believe in the ‘individual’ not the gender. Both sexes should be given the same opportunities and the tools to reach these positions.

    The fact the Social Democrats have done this with their Leader is worrying as even the British Labour Party hasnt done this…yet! Though they are making some constituencies select female candidates.

    I think it says a lot about Sahlin that she didn’t want the leadership on merit but on the fact she is a woman.

    I think the fact she supports AIK also shows a severe lack of judgement but we won’t go there.

    I have to say I am impressed with Bjorklund and am interested to see if my thoughts change in the next 2 years.

  5. Oh for the love of god – her supporting AIK is the ONE thing about her that’s understandable!!!

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