Friday, September 01, 2006

Critical Difference

Increasingly, there is an amount of foreign interest in the Swedish election as well.

In its main editorial today, the Financial Times have some thoughts about the subject. They point out some of the obvious shortcomings of Sweden particularly in terms of employment generation.

But they also write that the Social Democrats have done well over the past decade, having “reformed pensions, presided over some of the fastest economic growth in Europe and renewed public services: for example, introducing real parental choice in schools.

These are indeed successful policies, but FT seems to have missed the rather crucial fact that they were in fact decided upon by the centre-right government of the early 1990’s, although the Social Democrats were part of the agreement on pensions.

And the same applies to most of the liberalisation measures that has increased the growth potential of the Swedish economy since then.

On choice in public services, the Social Democrats have conducted a virtual crusade against it, only being prevented from rolling all the reforms back by the resistance also of the small Green party it has been dependent on.

So the successes the FT talks about were in fact in spite of - not because of - the Social Democrats.

A rather critical difference.