Monday, September 15, 2014

The left returns in Sweden

Swedes went to the polls yesterday to elect a new Parliament - and returned the left to power after eight years of right-wing government. The reason? The right's assault on social democracy was a betrayal of Swedish values:

Many Swedes are worried that reforms under Reinfeldt have gone too far, weakening healthcare, allowing business to profit from schools at the expense of results and dividing a nation that has prided itself on equality into haves and have-nots.

Voters have been shocked by scandals over privately-run state welfare – including one case where carers at an elderly home were reportedly weighing diapers to save money – and bankruptcies of privately run schools.

"We need to re-find our values, those that say we take care of each other, that it is not all about the rich getting it better," said Sofia Bolinder, playing with her young daughter in a playground after voting in the suburb of Skarpnack in southern Stockholm. Bolinder, in her 30s, said she voted for a party "on the left".

But its not going to be easy. Sweden has a pariah party - the racist, anti-immigrant Swedish Democrats - which no-one will deal with. And as they won 13% of the vote, minority government is inevitable. Normally that would be easy, due to Nordic consensus seeking, but the outgoing government is playing hardball. So coalition negotiations are going to be difficult...