Brad deLong has a problem getting vaccinated. I’m not so sure I’d be happy with his well-designed model of health care, though čśŤ
Die Zeit explains (in a sort of German) what a key account manager is.
Substandard health care is bad. Having no health care access whatsoever is worse.
“…but when I refer to Al Qaeda in this context, it only means the enemy in the current phase of battle…”
How did the worldĺs biggest online encyclopedia turn into a leading source of daily journalism?
EU rigidities are well known, but low US energy-productivity and low social mobility (probability of the poor breaking out of poverty) are less often noted. Structural reforms are necessary if the US is to emulate European successes on social mobility and
When Fredrik Reinfeldt formed his government, he faced several problems.
Distributing portfolios between the coalition partners was the least of them all, but the Liberal implosion in the final weeks of the electoral campaign would have been a cause for concern: The party leader was wounded and eventually forced to resign after almost six months of agony – and the Social Democrats had managed to make the Liberals look ridiculous in terms of law-and-order policies.
The Liberals might need a profile fast – every prime minister’s nightmare.
As it turned out, the Liberals have spent the best part of the last year licking their wounds, getting rid of the party leader and replacing him with the party’s #2 man while staying very quiet in the governing coalition. So quiet that casual observers might be excused if they get the impression that the Liberal Party has disappeared completely.
Du, va’ e’ brudarna? (Hey, Where Are the Birds?)
The Prime Minister’s next problem was finding ministers, junior ministers, political advisors and so on.
A Social Democratic PM has an easier job than a Conservative because the pool of talented Social Democrats is bigger. This is not because the average Social Democrat is smarter than the average Conservative, but because the Social Democratic party is the state-party in Sweden, it can offer younger talents a reasonable chance of a politico-administrative career.
As the party in government for most of the time and part of the Movement – the Labour Movement, that is – it would dispose over a number of positions in the party organisation, in and around the parliamentary group, trade unions, ministries and in government agencies. Even if you don’t make it into the government, you can still make a career out of being a Social Democrat.
Politics is a less attractive career to conservatives: After all, the party had only been in government for seven out of the sixty-one years since the end of World War II and no government with Conservative participation had ever survived an election. A career in business is a much better option if you don’t feel the urge to become a local councillor in Stockholm
One further problem is that the Conservative Party was and is a men’s party. Feminism isn’t part of the Conservative credo but not appointing a reasonable number of women to government positions would look bad.
In the end, Reinfeldt came up with the foursome Beatrice Ask (Justice), Cecilia Steg÷ Chil˛ (Culture), Gunilla Carlsson (Overseas Development) and Maria Borelius (Trade).
Borelius, who had no prior political experience, went down in flames in a couple of days: She had failed to pay the TV licence fee, employed a “black” nanny and – the horror, the horror – owned an expensive second home through a holding company based in a tax haven. If the Social Democrats ever wanted a prototypical nasty, upper-class Conservative for gratuitous propaganda use, Borelius filled the bill perfectly.
Appointing Steg÷ Chil˛ as Minister of Culture was an interesting move. Steg÷ Chil˛ had a past in the libertarian think tank Timbro and could be expected to be deeply sceptical of traditional Social Democratic culture policies. That provoked a huge outcry in a sector which in Sweden is fundamentally dependent on public subsidies.
As if her assumed policies weren’t enough, it was revealed that Steg÷ Chil˛ had omitted to pay her licence fees for a number of years – another nasty echo of the neo-liberal Conservative Party of the 1980s. She managed to cling to her post for a few more days before being dropped and replaced with Lena Adelsohn Lijleroth, the reliable wife of former party leader Ulf Adelsohn.
Still, the old nasty, upper-class lads’ party had reared its head. In publicity terms, it was a disaster, and if the policy element wasn’t enough, the entire fracas made the Prime Minister look inexperienced and insecure.
We shouldn’t over-emphasise the lasting effects of the first, dreadful weeks, – most Swedes in the street will have a hard time answering the question “what was the name of the first trade minister in Fredrik Reinfeldt’s government – and Fredrik Reinfeldt isn’t the first Prime Minister to lose a minister under bizarre circumstances but he could have lived without that mark in his book.
They Thought It Was All Over – But the Game Has Only Just Begun
But Mr. Reinfeldt would face an even bigger problem during his first year in office. The four parties of the centre-right Alliance had fought their electoral campaign on a promise to fight social exclusion and create new jobs. Now was the time to deliver.
The government went fast and furiously by introducing lots of changes to the unemployment insurance system. Basically, the idea was that receiving public benefits should be much less attractive and labour market policies should change from being social buffers to instruments of change. Or as a commentator said: “The moving vans will start rolling now” (from rural areas and minor towns to the big cities, that is).
Yes, if you look really hard at the Alliance parties’ electoral platforms, you will find references to hints at changes in the unemployment insurance along with calls for better conditions for small firms and more aggressive innovation policies and so on, but the unemployment insurance took on a life of its own beyond what anybody had expected before the election.
In my opinion, the government has paid a hefty price in the opinion polls because it failed to present a central part of its policy to the electorate.
But the next question is: Why did it fail?
Did the four parties deliberately play down the role of labour market reforms and changes in the unemployment insurance would have in government policies in the election campaign?
If so, was it out of fear of the reaction or because the parties thought, the the voters had understood and accepted their conception of the foundations of labour market policy? And why didn’t the Social Democrats seize the issue and challenge the centre-right during the campaign? Surely, they should have seen it coming.
Was it because the parties’ campaign machines were exhausted after the election and everybody worked on the assumption – this is Sweden after all – that now that the voters had given the new government a clear mandate until the next election, there wasn’t any need for making further propaganda for the government’s policies? After all, all of the politics had been made in the election campaign and all that remained for the coming three and a half year was devising the correct technical solutions before the election machine would be restarted.
In reality, it is the other way around: A government has to work very hard every day to make its policies appear attractive to the electorate, especially when the original victory was a precarious one.