Thursday, April 21, 2005

The Soap Opera of Sweden

Coming home to Stockholm after more than a week on the other side of the Atlantic is coming home to something that more and more resembles a soap opera.

It's all centered on the ruling Social Democrats and its Prime Minister Göran Persson. But it also covers the ethical standards of the way in which that party has been fostering its coming elites.

The Persson story is the daily story of it, when and how he intends to resign.

And it really is a daily story. One day the PM is saying that he doesn't really know, but it might by this autumn. The next day the same PM is saying that he certainly does not intend to resign, and anyhow certainly not now.

He alludes to "powerful interests" that are interested in the continuation of the soap opera over the issue, but abstains from naming them.

Wisely so - everyone knows that practically everyone else in the Social Democrat party is plotting different schemes to secure a change in the leadership prior to the September elections next year.

The crux is, of course, that there is no successor in sight.

European Commissioner Margot Wallström has - correctly - said that she can not be a candidate since she has an important position that she can't just simply abandon. The position as European Commissioner must never be seen as a holding position awaiting the outcome of some domestic battles.

But increasingly she is the dream of all the plotters. She seems to be everything that Persson is not - and they seem to want something that is as different as possible. Whether that is enough as a criteria for political leadership is a matter that isn't even discussed.

With her firmly in Brussels, it's only the junior minions of the Persson immediate entourage available on the scene. And most of them are obviously seen to be in the same class of attractiveness as the average East German local party hacks used to be. Not a good way to electoral success in the age of media politics.

To all this should be added the rolling scandal of how the different functionaries in the Social Democratic youth organisation seems to have falsified membership numbers over the years in order to get more subsidies from the state.

This now involved a substantial part of the members of the government, including the Finance Minister. There are now no fewer than seven different police investigations against differents parts of SSU for different degrees of fraud.

It's of course very bad in itself, but even worse as an illustration of the ethnics that is implanted in those being trained to lead the Social Democratic party. They seems to treat the state as theirs - to be cheated in order to get more money.

So it's not only a soap opera that seems to just go on and on. It's also a deeply troubling story about ethics in politics and morality in public office.

Bad. Very bad.