The Swedish prime minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, said the other day that there is no relevant opposition and Dick Erixon, a blogger, suggested that the opposition should fuse the Left Party and the Social Democrats under the new leader of the Left Party. The reason is that Håkan Juholt, the former leader of the Social Democrats, resigned today and left the Party in shambles. One of his last public statements was “It is not me, it is the Party”. The Social Democratic Party is in some kind of funk, everybody agrees, but no one talks about what the problem might be. Not long ago they rid themselves of the competent Mona Sahlin, who was better than Juholt, and now who.
So what ails Swedish Social Democracy? The Danes just elected a coalition led by Social Democracy and in France it is very likely that Francois Hollande of the Partie Socialiste will take over after Nicholas Sarkozy. SPD in Germany might be a strong contender in the next election against Merkel and her CDU.
Welfare might be in trouble that is making Social Democrats wonder if the good years of the West will be replaced by leaner years where it will be more difficult to afford the level of welfare people have gotten used to? Another problem might be the neo-fascism some people have established in Sweden and that there should be problems accepting the continuous development of the guiding control state that massacre individualism that otherwise is more and more important for entrepreneurism and innovation on all levels of society. Then I don’t know if Social Democrats are worse than other politicians to use this sort of techniques.
Social Democrats then seem to hold on to the equality parameter which is talked about even in liberal environments like the US. Belief in capitalism is down to 60% from 80% in the US and this country was known for not demonstrating envy of wealth but rather admire those that do well. Not so really in Sweden. The Financial Times is running a series of articles on the “Crisis of Capitalism”. The consensus seems to be that there is no other system and that we have to endure the downsides. There is also a sense that honor should reenter the game—less greed. The political opposition in Sweden doesn’t seem to discuss this however. Most people agree on equality of opportunity but the crucial question that separates Europe from the US is equality of outcome. Together with security it anchors Europe at a lower GDP growth and higher unemployment.
Using partly the same welfare idea as the Social Democrats the Alliance parties, The Moderates, The People’s Party, The Center Party and the Swedish CDU, have annihilated the idea of Social Democratic opposition. My humble question is, however, if it would not be better leaving focus on the welfare state on the opposition and advocating a more American republican line that would address problems in the future with focus on individuality, liberation of labor laws, and freedom. It seems like Europe is suffocating itself compared to North America. Europe has a great advantage though. It pays less than half for comparative health care but the US economy still seems to be more alert, adaptive and dynamic.