Unlike earlier years, I will not be writing a major (more or less off-beat) review of the year this time: There haven’t been any significant new developments in Swedish politics since I wrote my “Instant failure”-series in late June – see the “Reviews”-page – the government is still in the doldrums and we are still waiting for the political and economic effects of the latest reforms of the sickness and unemployment insurance. Things could get funnier during the spring, though.
(Oh, and Frankfurter Allgemeine today has this, rather critical, discussion of the Swedish economy)
The big events in Danish politics were the rise and fall of New Alliance and the November election. I don’t think NA is dead yet – and unlike a lot of commentators, I wasn’t surprised by the decline in support for the party – but the party seriously needs to get its act together during the coming year. Strange as it may sound, the looming conflicts over public sector pay deals and the general state of the Danish economy could be the salvation of NA. Conversely, the government may realise that the result of the election was a poisoned gift. I wouldn’t be surprised if 2008 turns out to be a bumpy ride in terms of policy even if the Social Democrats are not in a position to mount a serious attack on the government.
And as for me, well 2007 can only be described as a disaster. I saw it coming – the university world is eerily slow-moving – but it still wasn’t the funniest of years. Just to recap: Despite being commended in the last national evaluation of political science and conflict research programmes in Sweden, Umeå has seen a substantial drop in the number of students choosing the subjects (especially political science). So much for the impact of evaluations – and the consequence was that 7 out of 21 tenured faculty members were made redundant, me included.
What I can say is that my position in Umeå will expire on 14 March 2008 (a little tricky as I’m supposed to give a course which ends on 30 March – the unemployment fund will not like that) and for a number of reasons I haven’t sorted out my future yet. I haven’t managed to get a position in Denmark and after 9 years haven’t really got the stomach for more of the Swedish university system (where the market is tight, anyway), so my best guess is that this time next year I will be based somewhere south of here (okay: that is a hope as well as a guess) and more likely than not outside of the academic world (I find that the most sensible point of departure). Hopefully I won’t be conducting field studies in Swedish unemployment insurance and labour market policies, but then you never know.
And with that – and without any irony intended – I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year (or Glædelig jul og godt nytår, in Danish). Blogging will be light or even absent during the coming weeks.