Swedens New Immigration Law

Have they just blown their chances of re-election?

Have the Alliance for Sweden made a mistake?

 

The hot political topic in Sweden right now is the new immigration laws passed this week. Whilst the financial crisis spreads like wildfire, Sweden wants more workers and wants to make it much easier for them to get in.

I had a right ‘ding dong’ with Ms Palin on this, she started off by calling me a Right Winger (or was that a right whinger?) as I said I was against the policy, then ended up calling me a ‘Leftie’ when she realised what I was getting at.  Her sister called me something else which I can’t remember in Swedish but basically means ‘Social Democrat in disguise.’ Charming!

The Wall Street Journal has a great article on this Sweden Bucks Trends on Immigration Labour. Its true whilst every other country is battening down the hatches, the Swedes are open the doors to all.

Well so I thought.

My concern was that this would lead to even more hardship for the working classes as it’s inevitably the ‘blue collar’ workers who end up competing for jobs. It would be great news for business and particularly unscrupulous employers.  It would of course drive down wages and career opportunities.

However on a further reading it appears this is mainly geared at skilled workers rather than mass labour.

The new Swedish immigration laws include:

 

Swedens New Immigration Laws

Swedens New Immigration Laws

 

 I still think the above will be abused and there will be loopholes.

I still think it’s crazy that Sweden is opening its doors when there is economic uncertainty.  Indeed Sweden’s Finance Minister Anders Borg says Sweden’s economic growth is at its weakest for 30 years. 

Also the state-run National Institute for Economic Research (Konjunkturinstitutet – KI) said on Friday that Sweden’s GDP would fall by 0.9 percent in 2009 and grow 1.9 percent in 2010. Unemployment

is expected to increase from 6.1 percent this year to 7.9 percent in 2009 and 9 percent in 2010.

Some 135,000 jobs will be lost over the next two years, KI predicts.

“The number of layoff notices has increased dramatically, at the same time, newly reported job openings have continued to decrease, and firms have cut back on their hiring plans,” the report notes.

I still find it amazing that the Government has enacted this law.  My enthusiasm for the Alliance for Sweden government is slightly less this week, not for any xenophobic reasons, but purely on the basis of a economic concerns.  I like the fact its allowing business the chance to recruit in foreign talent much easier. Remember I am an immigrant myself, brought in because of a skill set which wasnt available in Sweden.

It will however, give ammunition to the extremists, you would expect the far right to be ‘milking’ this issue but what tickles me is that all the Lefties are against the law!!!

In the UK this is very different, the Unions rarely protest against more liberal immigration laws and are usually the first to dust off their placards and hit the streets on such issues.

What do you think about the new Swedish immigration laws? Is this good or bad news for Sweden?

The Editor Writes Back

The Editor of Thelocal.se 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,
Paul

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!

The Local gets sensational

Before I write this post, I will say I am a big fan of The Local -Swedish News in English and recommend it to all those English speakers who move to Sweden.

I am on their email list and like to get their updates.

As some of you know I am bit of a political anorak and was astonished to read an email from the editor of the Local, Paul O’Mahoney titled ‘The dawn of Swedish Two Party Politics’.

I thought maybe there had been some seismic change within the Swedish political landscape and that the Social Democrats had merged with the Greens and the Left Party, and that the Moderates had cobbled together a new Party with the liberals of Folkpartiet, the farmers of the Centerpartiet and the bible bashers of the Christian Democrats.

However when I read on, Mr O’Mahoneys mail had no such exciting news. He basically wrote that Mona ‘Moaning’ Sahlin had allowed Lars ‘the Berlin wall was ok really’ Ohly into her opposition coalition along with the Green Party.

This hardly heralds the start of ‘Swedish two Party politics’ does it? The two major Parties -the Moderates and the Social Democrats cannot realistically govern without the input of the other smaller Parties.

I come from England where there really has been two Party politics, Conservative and Labour. The Liberals have been trying to force their way in but it’s a hard slog. In the US there are only two players, the Democrats and the Republicans of course.

Having grown up in a two Party country, maybe I appreciate the Swedish political scene a bit more. Conservatives (both Left and Right in the UK) derided proportional representation because it could lead to coalition governments, as  if it’s something awful that should be avoided.

I believe the Swedes get better government because there is a national alliance of 4 parties. We all saw what Thatcher and Blair did with their massive majorities in the House of Commons; at least there is a safety check on that within Sweden as the junior partners in the respective alliance would certainly not allow that to happen.

I also think it’s fantastic that the Swedes can vote for a smaller Party and have some influence.  In the UK I always voted Liberal Democrat and was always told that it was a ‘wasted vote’ as they never had a chance of winning. Here at least a Swede can vote for the Centre Party or the Greens and know their vote will count.

So Mr O’Mahoney surely this not the dawn of Swedish Two Party politics but the continuation of Swedish political pluralism and consensual politics? What do you think readers?

Maybe its your job to be sensational or you got carried away but I think that was a bit ‘tabloid’ as opposed to your usually good output.

Spot the difference…

Which one is the Swedish Minister of Finance and which one is the British Minister of Finance (we call him the chancellor of the Exchequer)

I am sure you guessed correctly. The first pic is Anders Borg, Sweden’s Finance Minister and also surprisingly a member of Reinfelds Moderate Party (same as the British Tory Party). Of course the other picture is Alistair Darling, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer and a Labour Party man.

I was amazed when I saw Anders Borg on the box, the guy with the pony tail and an ear ring doesnt look like your average Finance Minister and certainly not a member of a conservative party mind you I would rather both of the above to the pipsqueak below:

Have you ever been skint Georgey?

Have you ever been skint Georgey?

George Osbourne is the UK Conservatives Shadow Minister for Finance and probably one of the biggest reasons why I will never vote Tory…what do old Etonians and heirs to Barons know about real life in the UK?  I think I would rather the geezer with the pony tail to be honest!

Swedish Politics -The Centre Party

Swedish Center Party

I can hear some of you moaning already 😉

Although my Swedish isnt good enough to listen to political debate I try and keep abreast of what the Swedish Political Parties are saying.

I was looking at their websites last nights to see who, if I had the vote I would go for.

There was no point me looking at the Social Democrats or the Left Party so my first port of call was the Alliance for Sweden site. The Alliance is a coalition of the Moderates, Christian Democrats, Liberal and Centre Parties.  Basically the Swedish SDP have run the country for most of the last 100 years apart from the odd blip. We are now in the middle of one of those blips as the Alliance for Sweden got a majority in 2006.

I checked out the Centre Party first. Luckily they had a section in English.

The preamble appealled to my liberal instincts:

‘The Centre Party has a strong confidence in human will and the ability to take responsibility and be a participant in society. To be able to decide for oneself, quality of life, equal opportunity and business are values that distinguish the Centre Party policy.’

Looking at their policies they come across very Green (but then what Party doesnt thesedays?) and very liberal, more classic liberal than liberal in the US sense of the word. Its funny how life affects you. In years gone by I wouldnt really have bothered too much about ‘work and business’ sections of a manifesto. However employment law, the workplace and business is an important part of my job here so its something that interests me.

I like the Center Partys’ stance on this:

work and business activity:

 

 

 

 

Sweden shall be one of the countries in the world where the conditions for starting and running a company are the best. It is important to us that it becomes more profitable and less complicated to be a company owner. We would like it to be easier to employ persons and that those who work shall retain more of their salary.’

The Swedish Center Party are Swedens third largest political Party, overtaking the Liberal Swedish Peoples Party at the 2006 General Election. Their background is very much rural with the farmers providing it with a solid political base though of late they have been taking votes from the Peoples Party in the urban areas. This is the part that concerns me as I am uncomfortable supporting a Party with a vested interest. Of course its impossible to agree with every single policy that Party believes in but its opposition to nuclear power puts me off them. Unless they are putting forward another solution of course.  Too many Parties are anti nuclear power but then have no answers of their own for the energy crisis.

The Center Partys leader is Maud Olofsson. She is the Minister for Energy and Enterprise in the Alliance Government. She has been involved with the Center Party since her youth and has also served as Managing Director for the Rural Economy and Agricultural Societies. She was elected to Party leader in 2001.

Her standpoint according to Wikipaedia is traditional Centre Party with an emphasis on rural Sweden, though in fairness she describes the party as Social Liberal. I do like a lot of what I read on their site but I wonder if anyone can point out what are the fundamental differences between the Center Party and the Swedish Folkpartiet (Peoples Party)?

More on the topic soon. Next up will be the Christian Democrats who I can tell you now I most certainly would not vote for!

 

 

 

 

Swedish Politics -It’s a funny old game.

Frederik Reinfeldt 

The infamous words of Jimmy Greaves apply to politics as well as football.

I was amazed to read that Swedens’ Prime Minister Reinfeldt gets behind Obama.

Surprised on two accounts.

Firstly Fredrik Reinfeldt is leader of Modoraterna ‘The Moderates’. Basically its Sweden’s Conservative Party. As you can tell by this little preamble in English:

‘Sweden has changed and moderaterna have developed to resolve the problems facing modern society. The new moderaterna put work before benefits by reducing tax, mostly for those who are earning the least. We want to reinstate welfare by putting education and health services before the benefits system. And we think that we should, once and for all, take up the battle against criminality. ‘

To be fair this used to be strictly ‘Tory Talk’ but the verbage is now used by ‘New Labour ‘of course.

I can’t imagine many politicians who believe in tax cuts and ‘work before benefits’ to be supporters of the US Democratic Party, and I certainly would not expect them to be backing Obama’s bid for the White House. I was intrigued to read that Reinfeldt believes he shares the same politics as the Illinois Senator..hmmm.

Right now Reinfeldt and his Party are on a crusade to get the long term sick and absence from work rate down. Hardly the sort of thing the Democrats are in to.

Someone said to me that the Swedish Conservative Party is not as conservative as the UK Conservative Party and this is obviously the case. I know Blair and Dubya were big chums but that was after Bush was elected and not before.

Personally I think its really stupid and naive for any country’s leader to openly declare support for a candidate in another lands’ election.

I mean, what happens now if God forbid Hillary wins? I can’t see her wanting to do much with a country who’s leader backed her rival! Also if the Republicans win (stop laughing I actually think they will!) then will they want to do business with a leader who backed the other party.

Folly indeed.

Todays Swedish Word of the Day is dårskap – folly!