Sunday, April 09, 2006

Something Rotten in the State of Sweden (4)

I have to confess that I never thought this series of comments about the state of the politics of Sweden would have to be that long.

But we are where we are. And the politics of Sweden continues to be the politics of the scandals.

The last week was one that I suspect few Social Democrats would like to live to see again.

Legal cases were opened - with considerable publicity associated with them - against three prominent representatives of the party.

The first is against no lesser person than Prime Minister Göran Persson himself.

For the time after he is Prime Minister he is busy building a rather impressive manor house in the countryside south of Stockholm. It is obviously more feudal than proletarian in inspiration. That fact in itself has been the subject of lots of comments.

But it now turns out that the building works - done by a firm run by his brother - has not been respecting elementary parts of the legislation for the protection and safety of the workers. And infringements are so serious that he will now be prosecuted for the violations of the law.

Needless to say, these laws are a key part of what the Social Democrats consider their contribution to a good society.

In my opinion, the case says more about the complicated laws than it says about the Prime Minister, but that's not necessarily the way the media sees it.

The second legal case was opened against the Social Democratic leader in Malmö in the southernmost part of Sweden. Being the third largest city, it's also the one of the major cities that is Social Democratic.

He is now accused of having taken a bribe in the form of a safari trip to Africa two years ago.Mediawise, that does not look too good either.

But it's the third case that's the most spectacular - and competition is fierce.

Anna Sjödin is the ambitious and up-and-coming leader of the youth organisation SSU.

Together with her entourage, she was caught in a fist fight of the first order in a bar in Stockholm some weeks ago. She was so drunk and so aggressive that she had to be taken away by the police and spent the night in their custody.

Now the public prosecutor is indicting her on no less than five different counts for what happened. And the indictment does not make nice reading.

Apart from all the time threatening the local guards as well as the police with their higher level connections with the Minister of Justice and the Social Democratic Party, she is said to have been screaming rascist insults to some of the guards. There are several witnesses to this.

To say that this points to a character flaw is one thing.

But more serious is the attitude of contempt for others, of being above, of being part of some type of new nobility that can do whatever it wants.

In that respect, there is a link between the Sjödin affair and all the other ones.

Lying to parliament, building mansion houses without checking the law, contempt for law and order etc, etc...

Power does corrupt.