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Posted on sept. 27, 2010 in Politic | 10 comments

Why the Swedish Social Democrats lost

Not the same old Sweden argumenteaza Katrine Kielos intr-o interesanta analiza  in care explica esecul social-democratilor suedezi in recentele alegeri generale. Merita citita mai ales ca ofera cateva lectii importante pentru social-democrati. Astept parerile voastre.
Stuck in their comfort zone and failing to face-up to political renewal, the headlong crash of the Swedish Social Democrats offers some telling lessons for Europe’s centre-left parties.

It’s not easy being a social democrat. When we stick to our political programmes and lose, they say it’s because we’re outdated. When we try to renew our political programmes and lose, they say it’s because we’ve betrayed our roots. The solution is simple: don’t lose. That used to be the genius of Swedish social democracy.

Last weeks general election has transformed the Swedish Social Democratic Party from the most successful political party in the world (governing Sweden for sixty-five of the last seventy-eight years) into a struggling centre-left party like any of the others.

For the first time since the introduction of universal suffrage, a centre-right cabinet has been returned to office. Fredrik Reinfeldt, the centre-right leader, has modernised his party and reached out to the centre ground. He turned himself into David Cameron, before the UK Conservative leader had even turned himself into David Cameron and the formula has proven extremely successful.

The harsh reality is that the social democrats have recorded their worst election in modern history, with the pain of defeat further sharpened by the electoral advance of the anti-immigrant Swedish Democrats. (Immigration was however not an important issue among voters, so the picture is quite complex). The most obvious mistake the social democrats made was their unwillingness to try and understand their new opponent. For the last five years they’ve tried to frame Fredrik Reinfeldt as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Firstly, this is not how the public see him and secondly it moves the debate from policy to a discussion about ideological intent.

It is however a comfortable strategy: if the social democrats keep telling themselves that the right is always the same old right and won’t change, then the social democrats can keep on going as the same old party that they’ve always been.

In 2006 the social democrats lost the election on the issue of unemployment. Reinfeldt has however not succeeded in fighting it either. The Swedish economy is recovering quickly from the crisis (GDP is projected to reach 4% this year) and the public finances are in excellent shape; but unemployment remains precarious at just over 8%. Thus, during the election campaign, the social democrats were able to criticise Reinfeldt rather successfully for his belief that tax-cuts can cure any economic problem; but, crucially, they did not put forth a credible economic programme of their own.

Sweden is a small country with a long history of free-trade policy, exposure to foreign competition and international markets. The structural transformations of the economy have always been very dramatic, with the underpinning political principle centered on the belief that a dynamic society is necessary and that it can only be achieved with a strong universal social security net. “Secure people dare” is a famous Swedish social democratic slogan: progressive politics has to be about helping people manage change, not resisting it.

The social democrats used to perceive restructuring as a process of old professions being eliminated by new technology, while new labour markets emerged in new industries. However since the mid nineties a lot of restructuring has taken place within existing industries, yet Swedish labour market and growth policies have not been updated to cope with this.

Understanding this new phase of globalisation was the obvious task for political renewal after the election defeat of 2006, but the work was never done. The party focused on electing a new leader, made advances in the polls, got comfortable and then crashed headlong in the election.

Furthermore, the party did not look over their tax policies in any systematic way and therefore got stuck in debates about single taxes – disconnected from what the taxes should be used for.

The social democrats in Sweden have always been able to explain two things to voters: why an equal society is good for the economy and how the taxes that people pay are directly connected to the quality of the public sector. In this election campaign they failed on both accounts.

The reason was not a bad campaign; it was the lack of political renewal. Hopefully this can be a useful lesson for other parties of the centre-left: don’t get stuck in your comfort zone while in opposition.

Actually the Swedish social democrats have never been good at renewing themselves in opposition. They’ve been good at renewing themselves in government.

That is unfortunately not an option right now”.


  1. Katrine stie ce scrie/spune. Dar mai exista un aspect: „speed”.
    S-D au stat la putere, si tinut Suedia in top, pt ca au fost suficient de flexibili si s-au adaptat/reinventat la timp. La timp dar la viteza de evolutie de pina acum.
    Vor fi suficienti de flexibil de acum incolo la viteza de schimbare de acum? Nu cred. Prea multe blocaje ideologice, prea mare concurenta (una competenta de data asta).

    • Tio
      ai dreptate. Am prieteni printre soc dem suedezi si cam asa stau lucrurile…din pacate!

  2. Cred ca de fapt e o victoria pt stanga adevarata(socialismul/ comunismul). Modelul suedez, promovat de social-democrati, ne poate invata f multe: comunismul nu se construieste cu arma sau prin lupta de clasa, ci democratic, explicand de ce e nevoie de o societate egalitarista si de un buget de stat mare. Numai ca asta e primul pas, urmatorul e nationalizarea graduala si democratica a economiei. Asta va fi noua provocare pt suedezi. A fost bine in trecut ca au privatizat si eficientizat economia, a fost bine ca au egalizat veniturile. Acum e momentul sa arate ca statul e suficient de matur si democrtatic pt a o gestiona!
    Aritmetic stiti cine sunt castigatorii alegerilor?! HAHA: nazistii!! :))
    Astia vor inclina balanta pt alianta de dreapta, deci se vor decridibiliza f repede. „Democratii suedezi”..ce nume?! Cum e , mai, democratilor sa fii suedez? Esti mai destept daca esti blond sau cum vine treaba?!

    • Ovidiu
      au castigat cei de centru dreapta….Soc dem suedezi au piedut tocmai pt ca au fost incremeniti in trecut. Citeste si postul lui Tio….e din Suedia si ii stie bine!

      • Da, corect! A castigat centru-dreapta cu 173 la 156. Ma incurcasem in cifre, dar niciun bloc nu are majoritate absoluta asa ca tb sa apeleze la partidul nou intrat, sau sa-l izoleze colaborand intre ei.
        Sunt de acord cu Tio, dar sa se reinventeze spre stanga 🙂

  3. PS: Stiti ce?! „Democratii suedezi” vor fi izolati in parlament si guvernul va fi facut de Ros-Verzi!! Tineti minte asta!!

    • ovidiu
      nu prea cred.

    • Suedia nu-i nici pe departe o tzara socialista, nu prea lucreaza nimeni la stat. Cum se spune si in articol, chiar securitatea sociala a fost privatizata in parte. E un pseudo-socialism ce practica ei cu statul f implicat in ajutarea oamenilor, iar Ana a subliniat f bine ca cei care locuiesc in Suedia sunt cel mai in masura sa judece si sitemul, dar si prestatia social-democratilor.
      Am fost o sg data in Suedia… la shopping 🙂 Asa ca tot ce pot spune e ca prima impresie a fost placuta. As putea sa am o parere totusi despre piata imobiliara(am aruncat o privire) – cam scumpe, nu-s la fel de bine sistematizate ca in alte tzari din mom ce sunt asa scumpe si presupun (Tio,Loop) ca suedezii nu castiga totusi dublu fatza de austrieci de ex… in schimb chiriile sunt duble. Asta arata ca piata nu e regularizata de stat si prob asa sta situatii in toate domeniile.
      Si ma gandesc, cf cu ce spune in articol, ca exista o fractura in viatza oamenilor intre perioada in care sunt exploatati de patroni si perioada cand beneficieaza de asistenta generoasa de la stat. Iar fractura se reflecta cel mai bine in diferenta de mentatlitate intre cei mai in varsta si cei mai tineri, exact cum spune in articol.
      Pai n-ar fi mai bine ca asistenta asta sa nu insemne doar bani ci si posib de perfectionare profesionala, am o banuiala ca inseamna doar bani – ca omul sa fie interesat sa munceasca pe viitor, chiar dc in prezent e asistat.
      Si…Loop, in RO nu exista asistenta sociala, e bataie de joc ce se primeste de la guvern, da raportat la resurse pana si ajutoru asta insignifiant e o povara.


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