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Sweden's Primetime Playhouse
First the subs, now this: a new governmental crisis.
ANKEBORG (Rixstep) — The 'Country of Sweden' came to a standstill today, with 'extra elections' now scheduled for 22 March next year. The official announcement comes on 29 December.
So let's see if we got this right.
The social democrats win an election again after eight years out of power. Normally it'd be only six years, but the social democrats themselves changed that rule. And their previous prime minister was repeatedly suspected and accused of corruption. And this all came to a head over the tsunami catastrophe where the PM was too busy partying in his country cottage to devote a thought to rescuing victims.
So the social democrats lost power, and a group led by the ultra-right 'Moderates' (what a name - they have war hawk Carl Bildt on board) won the election, not in the least because they promised a sensible platform on file sharing (of course an empty promise as most campaign promises are).
The 'Moderates' of Carl Bildt are right wing in a way few other parties in other countries dare. They've opposed every major reform for the past 70 years. Every last one. Then you add Carl Bildt to the mix - Carl Bildt is a US informer, working hand in hand with the CIA and getting away with it - and you see where it's all leading. An unexpected Russian sub on the rocks suddenly turns into a full-scale attack by unseen mini-subs (with pedals) that turn out to be minks. Major help behind the scenes getting more and more countries into NATO, etc. Thanks, Carl.
Then add the fact that the PM has actually been in the pocket of Karl Rove and the GOP for over thirty years. Over thirty years. The GOP managed the PM's career from Day One. Made sure his more 'liberal' opponents were eliminated. And so forth.
This PM tried the old trick of writing a book. The successful ones always do. Except this PM can't formulate a single sentence on his own. The book was such a fiasco that there's been a campaign to disappear it completely.
And with Bildt making sure the US get their wars, the PM set about dismantling - completely dismantling - the awesome and powerful superstructure the Swedes had built up over so many years. A society ranked one of the best in the world. With one of the highest standards of living anywhere. Still ranked top ten even after the discovery of the North Sea oil.
They chip away. They don't take out big chunks at one go. That'd get people to react. You chip away. Small almost undetectable things. That's how you do it.
Then you sell out the school system. That school system was once ranked best in the world. But now you get your friends to buy up pieces of that system for a song, and those friends start funneling their profits to the Cayman Islands, and then what do you know? The Swedish school system is suddenly ranked worst, not best.
You do the same thing with the nation's chemist shops. They're good, they're profitable - so you sell them off! The pain of it is that over the years, over a lot of years, the only corporations in Sweden that have been consistently profitable are the state-owned ones. The chain of chemist shops is one such corporation. Sell it. Sell it cheap. To your friends.
The same with care for the elderly. Hardly a week goes by without a new scare story of old folks abandoned on balconies, found dead in corridors, all sorts of not so nice things. The staff are overworked, to the bone. They quit. They get out. They can't keep up. All profits must be sent to the Caymans forthwith.
So much for Sweden's once-famous social model.
Some people think they benefited. Few actually did, but some were made to think they had. They see lower taxes and think they're happier. Their quality of life goes down down down as it does for all but the really filthy rich. That's the idea.
The great majority finally understand they were hoodwinked by Rove. They go to the polls. They vote out the Rove junta.
But then something else happened. Sweden's Pirate Party used to be world-famous. They made it into the European Parliament. Rick Falkvinge bet the farm (his life savings) on that, and on getting into the Swedish parliament soon after. But here come the second generation, who want to milk the party for all they can to further their careers - and who cares what party, as long as it's a cushy job in Brussels? And why for that matter stick to digital rights when you can promote gender science as well? So yes, the world-famous Pirate Party fell apart, and this is probably for the best. But another party entered in their stead.
The Sweden Democrats.
The Sweden Democrats have roots in a lot of wild and crazy places. Like the 'clown' party known as New Democracy - one of their founders is now adviser to the Sweden Democrats.
The Sweden Democrats use that name because for them the accent is on Sweden. They've had their share of xenophobia. But then again so have Carl Bildt's Moderates. There is a healthy dose of xenophobia all throughout Sweden, as that country - as Ukraine - never had a reckoning with Nazism after the second world war. The Nazis in Sweden simply went underground. And festered. And grew. And won support from the 'nyrika' - the nouveau riche. And from other groups as well.
The official platform of the Sweden Democrats isn't that bad. They want to reduce immigration. They'd like to have it on a par with other European countries. Right now it's many times greater than anywhere else in Europe. The other parties want to expand things even more.
Few would have an issue with that if the programmes worked. But they don't work. They don't work in a fabulous fashion. Today there are ghettoes in Sweden - the Sweden of old never had any such thing. As but one example.
Sweden is a country of immigrants anyway. The royal family are immigrants - from France. The Walloons came up from Belgium. Finns are all over the place. And so forth.
The immigration issue is also about corruption and waste of taxpayer money that goes into the pockets of crooks. Crooks such as the former political partner of the current adviser to the Sweden Democrats. Yes, it's very confusing.
None of the right wing parties have much political clout save for the 'Moderates'. The 'Moderates' used to be a marginal party (they're rather weird) but suddenly underwent a transformation, calling themselves alternately the 'NEW Moderates' and 'Sweden's new working class party'. That latter move stinks of Karl Rove, and the PM was known to have admired how Rove got the working class vote in the US.
But the Sweden Democrats. First they surprise everybody by taking the parliamentary seats many presumed would go to the Pirate Party, then they come back four years later and make themselves the third biggest party in the country.
The other parties are so small that they hardly count. Swedish parliamentary rules state that a party must win 4% of the vote to get a seat. Most of those parties are on the edge all the time.
Yet together they could form a majority with the Moderates last time around. This time around - in elections held in September of this year - that wasn't enough. What happened was the social democrats, together with the leftists and the greens, got the plurality of the vote.
But only the plurality, not the majority.
Stefan Löfven is not a visionary. He's never been a real politician before. The social democrats have been looking for a good leader for a long time. No one's been able to do the job. It was Stefan Löfven's job to find the candidates. But in the end, as they couldn't find anyone suitable, they asked Löfven to take the job. He wasn't keen on it. He resisted. But finally he gave in.
Stefan Löfven's not a bad man. He's been politically active, especially in the welders union, and he's been a good worker. But he's worked behind the scenes. Suddenly he had to go out into the spotlights. He did as well as he could.
Stefan Löfven and his social democrats and the greens and the leftists campaigned side by side for the September elections. The people were sick and tired of the Moderates (and one wonders how it could take them so long to wake up) and so Stefan Löfven and his social democrats and the greens and the leftists won the election. They didn't get a majority, but they got a plurality. More votes than the Moderates and their friends.
There was only one catch. The Sweden Democrats.
The Sweden Democrats got more votes than the leftists, the greens, the liberals, the farmers - all of them, save the two big parties. Their 12.9% gave them a decisive role in coming parliamentary deliberations.
But there's a problem here. (Yes, yet another problem.) No one wants to work with the Sweden Democrats. What they say is this:
'Yes, they got the vote, but that doesn't mean we'll let them be a part of the parliamentary process.'
Or most recently today:
'OK, they got 12.9% of the vote, but the rest of us got 87%!'
There are some unsavoury elements in the Sweden Democrats, but 12.9% of Swedish voters are OK with that. (And not all of those 12.9% are xenophobic.)
The leader of the Sweden Democrats is currently on sick leave. From exhaustion. He wore himself to the bone. He's behaved well in the debates etc - all the while his opponents have at times behaved reprehensibly. He's also instituted a 'zero tolerance' policy against xenophobia. And the party have already acted on that policy on more than one occasion.
So if you want to believe this political leader is merely a wolf in sheep's clothing, that's up to you. In the meantime, there is a parliamentary procedure to abide by. Unless of course you firmly believe the Sweden Democrats are on their way to establishing a Fourth Reich.
Would many of us like to party with the Sweden Democrats? Not hardly. But they got 12.9% of the vote, and our country is supposed to be a democracy. Except it's not working as one at the moment.
Under the Bus
There's another spanner in the works as well.
- The social democrats tossed the leftists under the bus immediately the elections were over. Why? The social democrats have often made governments with the leftists. Why not now? Because the Moderates block declared they wouldn't parlay with the social democrats if the leftists were on board. The leftists were flabbergasted, as were those voting for them. It's not exactly democratic.
- The social democrats then formed a government with only the greens. The greens got less than 10% of the vote. Suddenly an anaemic government was looking downright ridiculous. And with popular support down to 40%...
The first thing a Swedish government must do when entering office is get parliamentary approval for their budget. The social democrats had a budget. And now it was time to put forth a budget proposition. The opposition would of course put forth their own budget proposition. As would the Sweden Democrats.
There were many differences between the propositions of the social democrats and the Moderates. Basically the social democrats were trying to restore the famous welfare system, the Moderates again worked overtime to create a class society. But in one regard, the propositions were equal.
√ Who thinks it's a good idea to make Miss Zero Charisma head of the Moderates? Don't you want to win elections?
The Sweden Democrats didn't like the budgets in regards to immigration. For the most part, they otherwise favoured the social democrat budget. But they insisted that a new budget curb immigration expenses. Neither the social democrats nor the Moderates would budge. And neither block had majority support.
So today the Sweden Democrats voted down the social democrat budget proposition, thereby causing a governmental crisis. The SDs said they were sick and tired of being abused, that their decision was a bit of payback. The Sweden Democrats voted for the budget of the opposition, despite both budgets being equal in immigration and the overall policies of the social democrats being preferred.
But it gets better still. For the Sweden Democrats threatened to vote down any budget proposition in the future - including that of the Moderates - if outlays for immigration aren't curbed.
So today a very bitter Löfven took to the podium to announce an 'extra election' 22 March next year.
People of course start to wonder. What would have happened if the social democrats had reduced their immigration budget? Wouldn't the Sweden Democrats have voted for them? Or would the Moderates have responded by reducing theirs as well?
Everybody's blaming everybody. The Moderates say it's the fault of the social democrats, the social democrats say it's the fault of the Sweden Democrats, and the Sweden Democrats say it's the fault of them both.
An amusing comment stream comes from professed SD voter 'Anna Wallenstam':
√ My daughter thinks Zlatan should be PM. Why not? At least he doesn't do own goals all the time.
√ The left wing: crazy domestic policy. Right wing: crazy foreign policy.
√ The best song won!
√ Open our hearts my ass! I hate those Moderates.
√ Löfven offered his hand, got a boot.
√ If you discount all the pretend jobs (which we pay for) then Sweden has 14% unemployment. That is not good.
√ But Stefan was to live in that palace for four years! Scandal!
√ You stupid stupid SD. Everything was fine in Sweden until you came along. The elves danced in the fields, the unicorns were laughing.
√ All the Sweden Democrats want is an immigration policy like other European countries, so naturally we have to be smeared, ridiculed, demonised.
√ I hope our friends in the other parties really enjoy the bullying and demonisation of SD voters, because today they got the bill.
√ Weird - Xmas eve comes early this year? It seems like it arrives next year already on 22 March.
√ Stefan Löfven, bitter and weak like a kiosk latte.
√ Löfven and Frigolin had the same suits today? There was a sale in town?
√ Löfven and Frigolin have only four months to destroy the country. Go go go! Every second counts.
√ When will the social democrats understand that the demonisation of an immigration policy on a normal European level is not the way to win an election?
√ The Chinese character for 'governmental crisis' is the same as for 'governmental opportunity'. They're a wise people.
√ Maybe it's time for those other parties to discuss immigration issues with SD? The chaos will otherwise continue.