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According to popular opinion in Sweden, some bad will actually do good

Submitted by Jakob on 18 September, 2006 - 01:50.My Blog | Politics & Society

Tonight something rare happened, a conservative coalition won the parliamentary election in Sweden but it was close, and almost even. While the result doesn't surprise me, what amazes me is how easy it was to redefine the image of conservative party as an alternative similar to the social democrats, with policies not so different, and convince a large portion of the population of that. Perhaps people are so desperate, and so eager to forget recent history, that they're prepared to vote their political enemies into power as a manifestation of the disappointment in the now former social democratic government. Regardless of the success of said strategy it's not a recipe for a lasting solution and long-term political success. After all four years can pass rather quickly...

Sweden is mostly oriented to the left, and has been for over a hundred years. This is a country where workers' movements and labor unions have been strong, the home of such people as Joe Hill and a country that, if not invented, developed a system of fiscal and social policies often referred to as "The Swedish Model", by many praised for being an example of how to build an economically strong, socially just and technologically progressive society.

Despite the general support for left-wing policies and belief in solidarity as a global principle of justice, the once progressive workers' movement, and their party, The Social Democratic Party, have been losing support during the past ten years. Being defeated by a conservative coalition consisting of the four conservative parties in 1991, they regained support in 1994's election but has been losing support ever since. The general disappointment in the party has shown in the results and polls and the election in 2002 was a close call. and the trend hasn't really turned.

Traditionally, the social democrats have based their rhetorics and arguments on the value base if their opposition, who would according to them, and not entirely falsely, work for social injustice and lower wages, making the rich richer and poor poorer. At the same time the social democrats have introduced politices and reforms that were rare, if not uniquely Swedish. Ideas that have formed the core of The Swedish Model and our reputation as a progressive country. However the party has failed to renew itself and restore itself to its former glory when they represented a sense of the future and had a vision, or at least their leaders had the charisma and visions to induce a spark in the hearts and minds of the voters. Today they're by many considered conservative in the sense that they have been defining the political status quo of the past 60 years.

Understanding this, the conservatives have been cunning, disguising themselves as "The New Workers' Party" and driven by pragmatism built an image of belief in social justice and strengthened public care and welfare, with a few privatization projects thrown in here and there. Disillusioned by the social democrats and their seemingly concrete-like indisposition to change, voters have deserted them in favor of what they seem to believe is the better option, a "social democratic option" that isn't the social democrats. It's understandable, people want social democracy, yet not the social democratic party. The right-wingers' strategic idealogists have been on the right track and managed to capture the attention of the right crowd and succeeded.

What the results might be I don't know, either way I don't like them. I am firmly rooted to the left, a strong supporter of the ideas of social democracy, and I have strong values based on beliefs in the importance of social and economical justice, The Swedish Model and in the idea of a market economy that doesn't grow at the expense of the health and well-being of and citizens consumers or the environment. These ideas are not found on the right side of the political spectrum. I have doubts the current coalition will last. I believe they were elected making empty promises they willl have problems realizing, ending up fighting each other more than the opposition. After one full term, four years, people will hopefully realize what they truly are and that one bad doesn't do one good. With luck the social democrats and the left will put enough effort to deserve to win. I am, despite everything, more disappointed in their lack of trying, their failure to live up to their voters' expectations than I am annoyed with the success of the right. Now lets hope the conservatives won't do that much damage...

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