Per Persson describes how after almost a century of power, the Social Democrats are losing support in Sweden. With the economy on the ups, all rational reasoning would point to the easy re-election of the Social Democrats and current Prime Minister Goran Persson, but preliminary polls show the opposite. In Persson‘s opinion, many Swedes are dissatisfied with the current government’s foreign policy, unfulfilled promises of job creation, the arrogance of the Social Democrats, and with the disproportionate amount of power that Prime Minister Goran Persson has gained. The Social Democracy Party is firmly rooted within Swedish society and change, Persson points out, will not be easy, but the time may have come to give the opposition a fresh chance at government.
IN NO OTHER MODERN DEMOCRACY HAS A PARTY HELD POWER FOR SO LONG. The Social Democracy Party in Sweden has held a quasi monopoly on power in Swedish politics for almost a century, a stretch only rivaled by the Revolutionary Institutional Party in Mexico.
But recent polls show that there may be a shift in the balance of power in Swedish domestic politics.
A SHIFT IN POWER
The general elections are to be held on this coming 17th of September and preliminary estimates show that an alliance between Liberals, Conservatives, Christian Democrats, and the Center Party are ahead of the Social Democrats and their allies by 5 per cent. A similar coalition took power from the Social Democrats for a brief period in the 70s and again in the 90s. But perhaps this time, the power change will not be so brief.
No other 20th Century Swedish Prime Minister has had as much power in his hands as Goran Persson. An incumbent Prime Minister since 1994, Goran Persson has centralized power to such an extent that many of his fellow ministers look like marionettes. All ministers are appointed solely by Persson, and he has such an impact in Swedish politics that no major decisions are taken seriously without his involvement.
But since the past elections of 2002 the Social Democrats have been in decline. In 2003 a referendum was held on the Euro, and despite heavy campaigning in favor, the majority of Swedes voted against continuing the use of the intercontinental currency. Political analysts interpreted the outcome of the referendum as a protest against the established ruling Social Democratic elite.
Sweden has had a tradition of close involvement in international politics, particularly in human rights and women’s rights, since Olof Palme, Sweden’s most prominent post-war politician, was murdered in 1986. In order to keep up with this legacy, Persson appointed Jan Eliasson as foreign minister. Eliasson is a career diplomat, the former President of the United Nations General Assembly, and by far one of Sweden’s most respected politicians. But the Swedes do not appear to be satisfied.
Sweden’s passive response to the tsunami of 2004 in South East Asia, which affected hundreds of thousands of lives, including thousands of Swedes, received harsh criticism from the majority of the Swedish population. Many are unsatisfied with Sweden’s representation in international politics.
Goran Persson and his regime have had hard times making innovative political moves. Although the Social Democrats always promise to create more jobs, Sweden continues to be subject to jobless growth. The GDP continues to rise, but not because more people are being employed, but because of increased productivity in all sectors. Jobs are always promised, but none are provided.
With the latest figures indicating a GDP growth of 5.5 per cent, Sweden has the strongest economic growth in Western Europe and all rational reasoning indicates that Persson should not have any problems being re-elected.
Swedes are, however, becoming tired with what many see as the arrogance of Persson and the Social Democrats who have been in power for too long.
After so many years of power, the Social Democracy Party has embedded itself deep within Swedish society. Uprooting this power may not be easy, but a change in governing may be exactly what Sweden needs.
It might just be time to step down, and give the opposition a chance to rule.