WallstromMats Engström has written a good piece at Opendemocracy about the Swedish election result, and highlights some of the tensions that will appear for the Alliance when trying to manage to govern. In the meantime, European Commissioner Margot Wallström has emerged as a front runner to follow Goran Persson as Social Democrat leader – see this from The Local. Wallstrom might be just what the Social Democrats need – pleasant, communicative, positive and optimistic. Mona Sahlin is perhaps too tainted by past scandals and annoys people, Pär Nuder is too much of a technocrat, Thomas Bodström too inexperienced (?)

Anyway, one more issue of note are the ongoing tensions in Hungary. Mark Mardell’s column is well worth a serious look. Normally the comments section there is full of rubbish, but today’s debate is interesting and detailed: how can politicians work with the public to regain trust, and will there ever be the need not to massage the truth? Strange that in Sweden’s case the economic growth was undoubtedly sound, but it didn’t help Persson.

[UPDATE, 27.09.2006]
Eric Sundström has now written a point-by-point analysis of the reasons for the Social Democrats’ defeat – have a read here. He does not have any solutions for the future yet though!

4 Comments

  1. Galoglas

    To Edward Hugh

    Your post is turgid and almost incomprehensible.

    >The UK has long suffered the legacy of Thatcherism in that there was really only one party which was ‘governable’.

    WTF does this mean? Britain has always had at least two, arguably three (LibDems on a good. non-sandal day) “governable” parties, i.e parties with valid, if controversial, ideas for governing. Spain’s PP is also “governable”. The problem with the PP, as with UK Labour in the 1980s, is that THE MAJORITY OF THE POPULATION DISGREE WITH THEIR IDEAS. Your idea of democracy seems to be that various Wise Men decide what Received Wisdom is, then everyone else (who wants to be seen as “governable”) signs up for it.

    May I also say that your belief in mass low-skill immigration as an economic panacea seems simplistic and ill thought-out.

  2. Hi Jon,

    “Strange that in Sweden’s case the economic growth was undoubtedly sound,”

    The thing is there is ‘sound’ and there is ‘sustainable’. My guess is that, on the margin, Sweden’s highly intelligent voters are starting to worry about how they can maintain this with a population which is about to age rapidly. Clearly attracting immigration is one part of the picture here, but also reforms are going to be needed. Maybe people felt that the other side were more likely to carry out the reforms.

    Of course, as in the case of Merkel in Germany, popularity may drop rapidly when they discover just what kinds of reform are going to be needed.

    Selling-off some state assetts may raise some cash in the short term, but this (as we can see with Berlusconi) does nothing to address the core issue of rising dependency ratios, smaller workforces, and quite possibly (see my recent Afoe post on population pyramids and value chains) declining age-related productivity.

    Anyway. leaving that on one side, and going over to the politics, I suppose I take a meta-view (following Socrates) that it is the ‘laws’ that matter (in this case the ‘laws’ is a proxy for a well-functioning democratic system). This needs regular changes of government. So even if you have ‘your side’, you also have to build in the idea that there is a higher order priority that the other side govern too.

    In this context it is important that there be at least two parties who are sufficiently presentable as to be able to form a government. The UK has long suffered the legacy of Thatcherism in that there was really only one party which was ‘governable’. This is never good, and has, IMHO, produced all the issues which have rocked the Blair administration.

    This has now changed, and the UK is a better place for this. Spain has currently the same problem. In general terms I think Zapatero is doing a decent job, especially on immigration (with the regularisation) and in the context of the pluri-national identity of modern Spain, but he needs a credible opposition. At the moment the PP doesn’t offer this, and that is a bad thing. Spain will be a better place when the PP can seriously challenge for government again, and one day, inevitably, they should form another government.

    On a slightly related topic, I am just about to write a short post about whether or not young Swedes are ‘overeducated’ (the McKinsey/Timro theory) for demography Matters. The gist of the argument is that actually (and basing myself on the law of unintended consequences) they are not. Basically there is a market imperfection here which would mean that without another market imperfection you would get a bad outcome. The first market imperfection is the fact that left to itself this would mean that young Swedes were less well educated, since they would be attracted by lower skill jobs. But since we have the second market imperfection, viz inefficiency in the labour market for young people, the two tend to cancel each other out.

    Now to see this point, you have to think about Swedens population pyramid. If Sweden were able (like Spain is now doing) to attract a large number of unskilled migrants (from say Africa), then the economy would expand in a more balanced way, and there would be plenty of work for all those ‘overeducated’ young Swedes as they enter their thirtees.

    OK, I’m off to post about this.

  3. What a decision to have to take! I’ve just left a comment at Margot’s blog.

    Strikes me that Margot gets far too little credit for good, hard work in Brussels. She might have the position and respect that she deserves back in Sweden.

    I’m torn here – I was campaigning in Sweden and I want the Social Democrats to do well. But we need good Commissioners too!

  4. Hi Jon
    You might like to see what Margot has to say about it!
    http://weblog.jrc.ec.europa.eu/page/wallstrom?entry=draft_20060921

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