Change

So, we have a new government, and Göran Persson is resigning as party leader. I ended up voting for the Center party, the most inoffensive of the rightwing parties. I was a little tempted to vote a blank ballot. I know this new government will do all kinds of bad things, and now I’ll be responsible. I’ve never had to vote for a party that I thought would be on the winning team before.

I can’t really think of any particular issues that defined the campaign. That might be a little troubling I guess, but there weren’t any particular non-issues either , so to speak, or a great deal of “politics as spectacle”. People weren’t too riled up, there was just a general feeling of twelve years being enough. Well, good for the voters. 16 years of uninterrupted rule by one party wouldn’t have been healthy, especially this party in this country.

7 thoughts on “Change

  1. Interesting thoughts David. I tend to agree that a regular change of government tends to be healthy in a democracy. And the difference between the parties in political terms is hardly huge. Also the shift in the vote was far from being a massive landslide.

    There has been some discussion on other threads about the ‘true’ level of unemployment. This I think is very difficult to assess and compare between countries. I tend to think that the best measure of this is whether or not people perceive it to be a problem. This is more or less the methodology we are adopting vis-a-vis inflation where expectations have occupied the centre of the stage. You could call this the ‘subjectivist’ turn in economics.

    Since the shift in the vote has been on the margin this would tend to suggest that people may feel that unemployment is rather higher than desireable, but not in an especially fervent way.

    The real test, I think, of whether or not unemployment is too high comes with the attitudes to economic migration. If unemployment isn’t a problem then one can expect people not to be especially concerned about the arrival of economic migrants. From what I have picked up the new government would seem to be more favourable to this than the last one was.

    Also selling-off state assetts may be a relatively painless was of raising cash in the short term. It doesn’t however address longer term structural problems. Sustainability does seem to be a topic of interest for your new government, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find that if they actually start to do something (and casting a wary eye over to Germany) they won’t see their new found popularity suddenly plummeting.

    Your median age is now hitting the 41 mark. From what we can see from Japan, Germany and Italy the dials all start to show red once you get up around the 44 mark. This means they have an opportunity to slow all this down, if they get on with the job now. Incidentally I noticed from the stats that you are expected to have a lot more live births in 2006 than you had in 2005.

  2. “So how long does it take for Sweden to get to the median age of 44?”

    This depends on three things:

    i) The number of new migrants Sweden attracts
    ii) The number of children born
    iii) the evolution of life expectancy

    All of these three are variable, so it is hard to say. On present trends a decade perhaps. That is why the debate is now so focused in Sweden.

  3. Those numbers have only small effects for the next decade and if it is later than why worry now as you can’t really do a lot about it

  4. “why worry now as you can’t really do a lot about it”

    Well I wouldn’t be quite so fatalist. Clearly birth rates and life expectancy are not going to be very influenced by policy in the short run (between now and 2016 for eg), but in the longer run they both will be. Especially life expectancy which very much depends on the health system and the availability of care provision.

    But migration is a variable you can inflluence and the level of inward-migration will depend on the level of economic growth. So it is realistic to try and encourage growth and attract migrants, this will help cushion the changes, and this I guess is what the present debate in Sweden is all about.

  5. On another front the new government are spelling out their plans to privatise. They say they will sell a number of entities over a 3 to 5 year horizon, but:

    “Fredrik Reinfeldt, prime minister elect, has not committed himself to a timetable for the sales but said they will only go ahead only when the best price can be obtained.”

    This gets us into some interesting details. The IMF is also pointing out today that it is quite possible that the global economy is slowing, which means that stock markets may well move down from their current highs, a factor which will not be unimportant when it comes to the timing of the Swedish sell-off.

  6. I wasn’t fatalistic. I just don’t see how one can import enough immigrants to change that number in ten years time.
    I don’t think that is even possible with Spanish numbers and higher numbers than that are only likely if the immigrants are not poor Africans but more educated kinds of people and they will take their grandparents with them