Sunday, September 04, 2005

Evening of Debate - Sweden - Nyheterna

This was truly the evening of the great and important political TV debates.

I had some difficulties following both the big debate between all the party leaders in Sweden a year before our election and the important debate between Gerhard Schröder and Angela Merkel two weeks before the German election.

But modern technologies makes most things possible these days.

There was no doubt as to the outcome of the debate in Swedish TV.

In an opinion poll immediately afterwards, the Moderate Party leader Fredrik Reinfeldt come out well ahead of Prime Minister Göran Persson. When asked which of the two government alternatives - the present redgreen constellation or the new alliance between the four centre-right parties - they preferred 54 % said that the alliance inspired more confidence versus only 31 % for the redgreen constellation.

A very clear result.

And a fair one. The Prime Minister's high-profile attempt at assualting the alliance for cutbacks in the unemployment insurance system didn't really work, and when thius his piece de resistance didn't, nothing else did either.

Instead, he suddenly found himself having to defend his proposal to increase subsidies to higher income earners - while the alliance want to lower taxes for those with lower incomes.

Lower taxes for people with lower income suddenly stood against higher benefits for people with higher incomes.

In his initial attempt at assualt - before it all failed - it was also noticeable that the Prime Minister tried to ride a wave of anti-Americanism. Time after time, he accused the alliance of wanting an "American model" that was grossly unfair, in contrast to some sort of "Swedish model".

But it didn't really work either.

It's a year to the election, but so far the government seems to getting most things wrong, and the normally savy tactician Göran Persson seems to create the one problem after the other for himself.

There is no question what would be the result of an election in Sweden in the next few weeks.

A year is a long time in politics. Much will undoubtedly happen. But there is no doubt that the entire scenery has changed in a fairly fundamental way.