Monday, October 16, 2006

Farcical…The sorry state of Sweden's political class...

Sweden’s new centre-right government appears to be mired in political turmoil after less than a month in office. Trade minister, Maria Borelius resigned eight days after she was appointed (neither Peter Mandelson or David Blunkett can compete with her in "rapidity of resignation" terms). Borelius has also quit as a member of parliament for the Moderates. Ms Borelius admitted that she had not paid employer’s tax for a nanny and cleaners hired in the 1990s. She also avoided property tax in Sweden by officially registering ownership of her homes in Sweden with a company in the tax haven of Jersey. It has further emerged that she now risks being fined for irregularities in a share deal. Environment minister Andreas Carlgren has admitted that he supplied false income details after leaving parliament in 1998. Meanwhile, the Swedish Culture Minister, Cecilia Stego Chilo, also faces calls to resign after she admitted not having paid the TV licence fee for 16 years. Migration minister Tobias Billström is under investigation by the TV licensing authority as well. The departing leader of the Moderate Party's youth organisation, Johan Forsell, admitted last Thursday that he had not paid his TV licence fee either. It also appears that Carl Bildt was not exactly Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt’s preferred choice for the job of Foreign Minister. The other party leaders in Reinfeldt's four-party coalition weren't interested in the job apparently...

Not exactly a flying start for Sweden’s new government. But it’s still early days yet. Dare I say, “Things can only get better, can only get better…..”The government is due to present its first budget bill today.

And the now-opposition Social Democrats have plenty of difficulties of their own. At the end of September, The Social Democrats' party secretary Marita Ulvskog had to apologise for comparing Liberal Party leader Lars Leijonborg to a rapist. Anna Sjödin, head of the Social Democrat youth movement SSU, has been found guilty of using racial epithets and assaulting a bouncer at a bar in Stockholm in January 2006. She has decided to take time out from politics for a while. And EU Commissioner Margot Wallström, the favourite among party members and the public to be Sweden's next Social Democrat leader, said she isn’t interested in the job.

In a joint press conference in Downing Street with (now former) Swedish Prime Minister, Goran Persson in March 2006, our own PM and commander-in-chief, Mr. Bliar said, with his customary acumen that: ‘Sweden is a "model country" for others to follow’. According to the OECD, the country's per capita GDP ranking declined from fourth place in 1970 to 13th place today.Youth unemployment is about 23 per cent, the fifth highest in the EU. Since 1970 Sweden has increased taxes considerably -from 40 % of GDP in 1970 to 53 % in 1998 - and is today the only OECD-country with a total tax pressure including social security contributions above 50 %.

'Model country', indeed. Spot on, as ever Tony...

6 comments:

Croydonian said...

Shades of the first Clinton administration, isn't it? It seemed as though half of his initial would be appointees had a whole ossuary of skeletons in the cupboard which meant they failed to pass House / press scrutiny.

CityUnslicker said...

A classic case of the socialist media holding back on stories until the government was in power. They knew the election was lost and waited until they could damage the government with these, relativley minor, stories.

A real good Alistair Campbell style attack dog campaign.

I wonder if it will happen to the Conservatives should they win in 2009 in the UK

istanbultory said...

Distinct shades of the first Clinton administration.It's been an inauspicous beginning for the new government. The Swedish PM certainly appears to have done rather poorly on the vetting of his ministerial underlings. I think cityunslicker might be on to something there. And I do hope DC will draw the appropriate lessons although the common problem with the Swedish PM' and Clinton's 'problem case' appointees were that they were political nubies or had been out of politics for quite some time ( the latter being particular true of the Swedish case).

Colin said...

I agree with Cityunslicker that it seems to be the time-tested method of character assassination in politics.

Congratulations Istanbultory for your excellent blog!

Ellee said...

This is a really interesting post, can you imagine politicians being so stupid and greedy? Ok, you can. The chances are their past catches up sooner or later. I really did enjoy this, right up my street. And a story to keep track of.

istanbultory said...

Thank you Colin and Ellee,
Yes, the lefty media had done their homework on the new government's ministerial appointees. That's for sure. I'll be following developments.
But if you think Swedish politics lacks probity or the necessary ethical standards, the stench from Polish and even more so Turkish politics is over-powering. And as for Labour's rotten boroughs...