Friday, September 22, 2006

The dust has settled.


The Alliance, consisting of four right-winger parties (The "new" Moderates, the Christian Democrats, the Peoples party and the Center party) are now in the process of forming a new government.

Maybe I first should explain a bit about how the Swedish election process and parliament work?

  • Sweden is a monarchy. The king, Carl IV Gustav Bernadotte, is the head of state, a mere ceremonial role. He opens the parliament after summer vacation, represents Sweden at official visits from other countries. CGB is by law forbidden to interfere in Swedish politics.
  • Swedens parliament is a one-house-parliament as opposed to, for example the British and the U.S. government.
  • There are 349 chairs in the parliament and 310 of these are divided among the 29 electoral districts, based on how many people are allowed to vote in every district. The other 39 chairs are used to "even out" discrepansies and make the results more just. This means that a party that won their voting district but not did get 12 per cent of the votes can still get a chair in the parliament, thus the people of that district can get a representative.
  • Anyone who wishes can start a political party in Sweden. All they need are 50 signatures for the municipality election, 100 signatures for the Country Council election or 1500 signatures for the parliament election and/or the European parliament election. Yes, it's that easy...

For a very long time there were seven major parties in Sweden:

The Social Democratic Labour Party (SAP).
Was in power for almost 70 consecutive years. Still the biggest party with about 35.2 per cent of the votes. That's down 4.8 per cent from last election. They've made many mistakes but on the whole, the Swedish welfare system is their brainchild. "Even out the incomes and there are more people who can afford things, thus contributing to the industries growth." Well, that's the general idea.

The "New" Moderates (M).
The biggest of the right-winger parties with 26.1 per cent of the votes. That's up 10.9 per cent! I don't think there's anything new about them except for their new and carismatic leader. I'm not quite sure what this party wants because they hide behind phrases like "freedom for the individuals" and "freedom of choice". Essentially it seems to mean that privatisation of hospitals, day-care centers and other municipality controlled areas are a good thing. When people start getting their "new improved" bills for this, they'll probably scream for mercy.

The Center (C).
Formerly known as the "Farmers party". They got 7.9 which is up 1.7 per cent. They are the greenest of the blue side. Many of their ideas are quite good, sustainable energy production as an example. They are also very oriented towards small businesses.

The Peoples party (Fp).
Actually, this is probably the party I would have voted for if I hadn't been such a stubborn social democrat. Down 5.9 per cent to 7.5. They got flogged by the politically correct media because they had the nerve to propose that immigrants should be forced to learn swedish and also take a test before they became citizens. I can't understand what all the fuzz was about. If you don't know the language you'll always be handicapped. Nobody hires someone who can't speak the language at all.
That's a fact and not a racist view.

The Christian Democrats (kd).
This is the party I fear the most even though they went down 2.5 per cent to 6.6. Sweden has separated the State and the Church from each other and there is a good reason for it. Religion and politics are an explosive combination. Just look around in the world...

The Left Party (v).
These guy's are communists. Some more than others. I'm not afraid of them but think they have a wee bit to many radicals among their members. They are now down to 5.8 per cent which means they lost 2.5 per cent of their support.

The Enviromental Party (mp).
Yes, the green party, a strange mix of left- (mostly) and right-wingers with a conscience about enviromental issues. They emerged as the first new party in Sweden in 70 years. This election they lost 0.6 per cent and thus dropped to 5.2 per cent. I know in my heart that they're right about what we are doing to our planet. Hell, I agree totally with them! But the rest of their political agenda is quite a blur, thus I wouldn't be sleeping well at nights had I voted for them.
Better to try and influence a bigger party. That way, things happen faster.

There are some other minor parties too. Most notably The Swedish Democrats, who had a great success in many parts of the country. They want to throw out all immigrants since they all live on social welfare (according to SD) and take "our jobs". What SD has forgotten is that unemployment among immigrants is even worse than among Swedes. But they do have a point. Immigrants are allowed to bring relatives, retired relatives, who get access to our welfare system and in many cases receive more money than an ethnic Swede who's worked all his life. Of course that pisses people off! But, in my opinion, it's still not the immigrants fault but the system's fault. And it has to be fixed fast, before people start running around shouting "Sieg Heil" from the top of their lungs.

And, as a small remark on their views, their group leader in one of southern Sweden's major cities is living on unemployment checks. Asked about this he claimed that "it was not the same thing." So it's okay for an ethnic Swede to be unemployed but not for an immigrant. Democrats, my ass.

  • Usually we don't get a sovereign majority for any political party but instead the "blocks" fight each other, ie SAP, V and Mp against the other guys, but Mp is willing to go to bed with anyone who promises to raise enviromental issues to their agenda.
  • After election every party receives the amount of chairs they are entitled to in the parliament. And then the circus begins...
  • First of all the old Prime Minister has to resign and with him the government. The Speaker of the parliament assembles the party leaders for a discussion on who's most fitted to be the new Prime Minister.
  • The Speaker suggests a PM and the parliament takes a vote. If more than 175 members of the parliament vote against the Speakers suggestion he has to start all over again.
  • This time around the Prime Minister is obvious. The Moderates is the biggest of the blue block, thus their party leader, Fredrik Reinfeldt, will certainly be our new PM.
  • As soon as the PM has been elected by the parliament he starts to form a new government. This is his prerogative. He can choose anyone he likes. Rest assured they will never choose me...
  • But actually, the government can't do anything without the parliament. It's the parliament (the peoples representatives) that have all the power. The parliament passes all the laws, the government makes sure it's different departments understand, follow and enforce the passed laws and the judicial system punishes those who don't. Quite simple actually. Put in another way: The government is equal to a CEO and board, the parliament are the shareholders and the judicial system are the independent accountants.

Now, JoeinVegas asked me a question about why I'm glad that I rent my home. Well, it's because we have something called municipality rental buildings (MRB). They are run just like private rental buildings (PRB) but with one big difference; They are only allowed to make ends meet. That means that even if interests go up a bit, they are only allowed to compensate for that and nothing more. You know, and I know, that if interests go up, banks and PRB's are going to compensate a for lot more than just the interest. I've seen private rentals with exactly the same standard as my apartment but with a monthly rent of "my rent" + "2/3 of my rent".

The system with MRB was one of the brighter ideas by the Social Democrats. Not only did it create thousands of jobs and housings back in the sixties but it also kept "the almighty market" from squeezing the last drop of blood of those less fortunate. The drawback is that some of the larger areas with MRB's have turned into problem areas. But that's, once again, more due to a stupid system that allows immigrants to live their lifes isolated from the Swedish language, culture and most importantly the workforce. I find that system more racist than demanding that people learn a new language. If I was to move to a new country I would sure as hell try and learn the language as fast as possible for my own sake.

Oups, I'm getting very angry looks from my wife. She thinks hammering on a keyboard after midnight is a sign of insanity... Bye. :)


Shark-fu said...


JoeinVegas said...

A sign of insanity? Perhaps she should be pleased you are doing it so late and not ignoring her (or perhaps you are, sorry, can't tell from here). I still don't know why owning a home is not better - would not interest rates be fixed, and thus your payments would stay the same?
Here owning is usually better than renting, mainly because out West we don't have those types of rentals, all are market driven, and last year with the great rise in land prices apartment rents went up greatly. Many apartments are converted to condos that renters can't afford, or torn down to build new condos. Vegas is losing all of it's low cost housing as is much of the west coast.
Our friend in Sweden is a doctor, and continually complains about the tax rate, but he works for the government and does have a steady job (at 80-100 hours per week). Doctors in Nevada are declining, due to the high insurance costs and the government continually reducing the amount they will pay for Medicare recipients, so insurance companies follow suit and doctors end up collecting $24 for a service that costs them $60 to provide. Free market.
Oh - your King was just out here in Vegas collecting a new sports car, and seen around town at the fancy restaurants and some charity gambling events. Again, I wasn't invited.

PissedOffPencil said...

Sorry it took so long Joe but my time in front of the Pc is limited for anything else but studies.

Yes, owning your house in Sweden is usually the best thing but the last time the right-wingers won, people suddenly got stuck with interest rates that sky-rocketed with 500 per cent and more. The fixed rent is only semi-fixed which means they rise but not as much as the non-fixed. That's how the banks assure themselves of losing as little money as possible.

What happened last time was that the well known IT-bubble bursted, the Swedish currencys fixed exchange rate against the euro had to be taken away and the banks had done to much investments in the building sector. It all collapsed at the same time and since many people were told, by their bankers, that there was nothing to worry about, many people had all their loans "floating". Two words = catastrophic results. I even had the chance to buy a condo for one (1!) krona but sadly my wife didn't want to move. Today we would have been millionaires...