Monday, September 18, 2006

About the Swedish Election

So now it is basically clear that the Swedish centre-right coalition won the election, with the preliminary margin of 48.1 to 46.2%. The only thing that could possibly prevent that is if the "far right" anti-immigration party Sweden Democrats gets over the 4% threshold for winning seats in the Swedish parliament (Their votes have in the first count been put in the "other parties"-category), but while they clearly have gained strongly from their 2002 result of 1.44%, it seems unlikely that they got as much as 4% out of the 5.7% going to "other parties", as that group also includes several parties each likely to have gotten several tens of a percent, such as the EU-skeptical June List, ultra-feminist Feminist Initiative, senior citizen advocacy party SPI and anti-intellectual property single-issue party Pirate Party.

The main reason why the Social Democrats lost was that they were in denial about the reality of mass unemployment in Sweden,mostly spending their time trying to hide away the unemployed into other statistical categories, like early retiress, people on sick leave and in "labor market political activities", while doing nothing to create jobs. With the result being that private sector employment is now lower than in 1950, and overall employment lower than 20 years ago, even as the population has expanded. Indeed, not only have they been doing nothing to create jobs, they have in fact done almost everything they can to discourage private sector employment, through sky-high taxation of labor, high union-imposed minimum wages and various regulatory burdens on businesses hiring people.

They certainly deserved to lose for that reason, and for a few other reasons as well. However, the trouble is that the centre-right parties who won the election didn't deserve to win.

They won by moving so far to the centre, that most of their modest tax cuts will be financed, not by spending cuts, but by other tax increases. And the new prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt "flip-flopped" on the issues even more than John Kerry and generally showed a complete contempt for anything resembling principles.

Still, this result probably means a very marginal improvement in economic freedom in Sweden. Swedish free-market advocates now need to focus on pressuring the new government in to reducing the size and scope of government (the above linked BBC News story is unfortunately wrong when they claim the new government plans to reduce government sector employment, they have in fact said they will increase it), so that the result won't turn out the same as in America and Germany, where "right-wing" politicians George W. Bush and Angela Merkel have done the opposite


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