Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Swedish politics: Rascism, Scandals and Piracy, Part 2: Scandals

by A swedish kind of death Sun Oct 15th, 2006 at 12:14:08 PM EST

As Laurent already has reported, the Swedish trade minister resigned yesterday. Things are coming to fruitation quicker then my reporting, but here is my longish version of what is going on.


Formation of government
If we start with the formation of the government, the parliament elected (as expected) Fredrik Reinfeldt prime minister. He then presented (or proposed? I am not really clear on the obscure details) his cabinet to the parliament. It was all a done deal as it had been settled among the party leaders in the right bloc. The cabinet, reflecting their strengths in parliament, consists of 11 from Moderaterna (including the prime minister), 4 from Folkpartiet, 4 from Centerpartiet and 3 from Kristdemokraterna.

With some exceptions, the parties has split cabinet among thematical lines, giving Folkpartiet education, Centerpartiet labour market, Kristdemokraterna Social security and Moderaterna the rest: Finance, Culture and Foreign affairs.

Scandals
Trying to prevent scandals, when the cabinet was presented trade minister Borelius and minister of culture Stigö Chìlo, came clean with having employed nannies without paying taxes in the 90ies. When asked why Borelius answered that she could not have afforded it had she payed taxes, reflecting the party line.

That was a mistake, tax records are public in Sweden.

The stuff scandals are made of
For our anglosaxon readers I should here pause to point out that in Sweden a politicians sexlifes are not a political liability (as long as everybody is of age and consenting). Nobody cares who sleeps with whom. Money on the other hand, well that is the stuff scandals are made of.

And of course their is a standard way of getting embroiled in a scandal. Lie about something that can easily be proven. The media does not like being lied to, and dramaturigally this is the easist case. Just show the lie and the thruth. It does not really have to be that big a deal to begin with. The fact that it was lied about shows that the politician was ashamed of his or her acts.

Now, back to the scandals
Soon it became clear that Borelius and her husband had in average during the 90ies as a couple earned more then 1,6 million kronor/year (just below/over 200 000 euros/dollars per year) making the comment of not being able to afford taxes a lie or a statement of very privileged priorities. The last days it has also come to the medias attention that Borelius and her husband owns a number of houses through a company in Jersey. As this is a sign of tax minimisation or tax fraud, the media attention has not looked like it will stop. So she resigned yesterday.

Paying the tv license
The next scandal that unfolded regarded minister of culture Stigö Chìlo. Not because she paid her nanny under the table. Since she was not caught lying about that the media focused on Borelius on that issue. She was however caught with not paying her tv-license for 16 years.

Now the tv-license is not huge if you have a decent or good income (about 150 euros/year) and since their is no real punishment for evading it (other then eventually paying it) it has a certain moral aspect in the public discourse. She was not the only one among Moderaterna in the new cabinet that had not payed her tv-license, but she was singled out as the minster of culture has public service on her table. And now comes the twist: When confronted she claimed that she missed it as she has been moving in and out of the country. Can be checked, was checked.

Stigö Chìlo had indeed lived two years abroad during the last sixteen. And maybe she would have gotten away with it had she not within the last year bragged about not paying the license and procalimed that she gladly would face a trial for refusing to pay. Lied, got caught = media pressure. Her fate is still unknown, but the traditional mechanism of ousting ministers are already in play. Papers has called the district leaders of Moderaterna asking them for their take on the matter, and the mayority thought she should resign. That is usually it, though she can still weather it if Reinfeldt is willing to take the heat and get the district leaders in line.

Ruling from the center with inexperienced neoliberal ministers
One thing that stands out is that the ministers caught in these scandals are young and politically inexperienced. They tried thinking on their feet and fell. It is telling something about Moderaterna as a party that many of the new cabinet ministers lack experience, with the notable exceptions of minister of foreign affairs Carl Bildt and minister of justice Beatrice Ask. But I will come back to that.

There is also another thing here, something that might be more important. If the new government had come to power on a platform of system-change the ministers could have taken Starvids line:

TV license? Come on. I sure as hell don't pay mine

After all that is probably how they feel about it. But they did not take that line as they did not have the mandate.

Instead they came to power on Reinfeldts strategy of rebranding Moderaterna as "The new workers party" promising a better welfare state and more competent rulers. So the young neoliberal ministers had the hard task of playing better socialdemocratic ministers.

So why chose the young neoliberals in the first place? They consider tax as a form of theft and of course they were bound to show it. My take is: because this is were Reinfeldt has his base in the party and he is taking his boys and girls with him.

It will be interesting to see who Reinfeldt choses to replace Borelius and Stigö Chìlo should she resign. Even more inexperienced young neoliberals or more experienced politicians with their own powerbases? Or even bringing back som of the ministers from the 91-94 Bildt government with all that would entail for Reinfeldts position with Bildt already in the cabinet.

In conclusion
Reinfeldt won the election with a strategy that counteracted his after-election strategy, especially when it comes to transfering his powerbase from the party to the cabinet.

The election analyses and future plans of Piratpartiet will have too wait for another day.

Display:
Well, if those so-called liberals are seeing gov tax as theft, what are their thoughts about the biggest tax and freedom/market restriction of all: intellectual property?

May time to get rid of those commies law? I guess Starvid agrees :)

by Laurent GUERBY on Sun Oct 15th, 2006 at 12:51:21 PM EST
Actually many of the neoliberals (speaking generally, I do not know so much about the ministers in question) take exactly that position. Intellectual property is not proper property but private monopolies handed down by the state that disturbs the wealth-generating powers of the free markets. Their party - Moderaterna - does not agree however as their big-business wing sees it as a potential threath.

Of course you can reach similar positions from a left position. Intellectual property is private monopolies enforced by the state that is used by capitalists to control and own the common goods of culture and knowledge.

That is just one of the things that has been quite fun in the Pirate party.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Oct 15th, 2006 at 01:09:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I believe when I started posting in blogs a few years ago, most so-called "liberals" where pro-IP. However it seems to have changed now, amongst liberals I chat with it's much more common for them to have a pro-liberty view than before, I guess it's the excess of the IP extermists that helped them see the light.

See here for a liberal view of IP from Milton Friedman.

One funny thing though, Don Boutreaux at Cafe Hayek has stayed incredly pro-commie-big-business on the topic, even when I post the Hayek quote on the topic on his blog :).

by Laurent GUERBY on Sun Oct 15th, 2006 at 01:30:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In this discussion, is "liberal" being used in the U.S. way or in the Economist Magazine way? If the former, I'm unclear about how you can be a liberal and then not pay your taxes, as that is part of the whole income redistribution thing...
by asdf on Sun Oct 15th, 2006 at 02:16:37 PM EST
When writing about swedish politics, I use 'liberal' in the european sense. That is generally (and this is extremely general) speaking a position that is pro low taxes in economics and high tolerance in social matters.

Liberal parties are now a days generally seen as being on the right side of european political spectrums as they mainly cooperate with conservative parties (low tax, low tolerance). On the left side of the aisle we have green, socialdemocrat and communist parties. European politics are generally dominated by a big conservative and a big socialdemocratic party. Depending on the power relations, sometimes the liberal parties end up on the left. I am as saddened as DoDo when it comes to what is up with liberal parties in Europe these days.

'Neoliberal' on the other hand I reserve (as is done in swedish (european?) political discourse) for a certain Reagan-Thatcher inspired position of 'Regulation is slavery', 'Tax is theft' that swept european conservative parties in the 80ies and is still with us.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Oct 15th, 2006 at 03:31:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, but we are not talking about a tax here, but a license fee. And even it were a tax it would be a regressive one. Or at least a flat (not progressive) one.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sun Oct 15th, 2006 at 05:47:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We are talking both taxes (the nannies, Borelius houses) and the tv license. And the fact that the fee is flat should be all the more reason for rich people to pay it...

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Sun Oct 15th, 2006 at 06:15:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure, but this is not an economic issue.

People refuse to pay out of principle. But sure, the fee is to high also. Public service gets about 700 million euros every year. And they can't even manage to have programs 24/7 but shut down at night time.

I'd guess we get 18 hours of TV a day, times two as we have two public channels (and some budget fringe channels nobody watch which are filled mainly with content recycled from the two main channels). 36 hours a day is 13149 hours a year, or 53 000 euros per TV-hour.

I have a feeling the quality is not really equal to what we pay for it...

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sun Oct 15th, 2006 at 06:52:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, you are quite right: a matter of principle. To these ministers and to you it is a matter of principle not to pay, but to most people in Sweden it is a principle to pay if they can afford it. And most can and do. After all you do not get 700 millions a year without quite a lot of people paying their fee.

By the way those 700 are divided between television, radio and educational programs (UR) so it does not all go to television, though I suspect SVT takes the biggest part. But anyway, we just concluded that this is a matter of principle, not economics.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Oct 15th, 2006 at 07:08:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And I think it was good Borelius left. Apparently she was an upper crust bitch.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sun Oct 15th, 2006 at 06:53:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The B word is taboo - probably quite rightly in a multicultural environment

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Oct 16th, 2006 at 02:43:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And these paradigms of moral virtue promised to sell 500 billion SEK worth of publicly owned companies over the next four years... I guess there will be more members of Moderatarna buying summer homes in Jersey in the near future.
by Trond Ove on Sun Oct 15th, 2006 at 02:39:39 PM EST
I have nothing against public service television, as a matter of fact I support it, unlike those neoliberals. I made a political test yesterday and was branded "social democrat". Not a Swedish test obviously, but then a Swedish social democrat would have been branded "communist".

Anyway, there are five reasons I refuse to pay my television license.

  1. The whole idea with licensing television sets is deeply anti-liberal and anti-democratic. Were not talking about assault rifles or anthrax but a god damn TV, a basic tool of communication. Having people snooping around spying on people like they do is unacceptable. And damn expenseive. Replace the license with an ordinary tax and I won't grumble about that part.

  2. Public service TV should do what commercial channel's don't. In depth reporting and analysis, covering debates and seminars, airing unpopular movies and documentaries. Instead there has been a fanatic scramble to get "young viewers" (16-44, absurd age span by the way). Of course these people only want to see MTV crap and reality TV, things the commercial channels can do without hurting the public purse.

  3. All the people in charge of the public service television are socialist politicians or sympatisers. The head honcho is former social democrat party secretary Lars Stjernkvist. I am not kidding.

  4. All the journalists are commies, more or less. Combine this with #3 and you get a public service as "fair and balanced" as Fox News.

  5. In spite of this they spend vast amounts of taxpayer money to make PR about themselves being "Free television" free from any outside power, airing clips with the guy and the tanks on Tiananmen Square and such. It's absolutely sickening.


Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sun Oct 15th, 2006 at 05:45:10 PM EST
Do you really belive that a neutral TV can exist?
by Laurent GUERBY on Sun Oct 15th, 2006 at 06:10:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, not entirely neutral.

But one can do better than Fox. Or Swedish public service.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sun Oct 15th, 2006 at 06:46:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Replace the license with an ordinary tax.

I agree.

Public service TV should do what commercial channel's don't.

I agree and what is more, I think Eva Hamilton, the new CEO of SVT (Sweden public service TV), said something to the same effect in her pressconference the other day.

All the people in charge of the public service television are socialist politicians or sympatisers. The head honcho is former social democrat party secretary Lars Stjernkvist. I am not kidding.

Yes, I believe Lars Stjernkvist is president of the board, as this seat traditionally goes to a socialdemocrat. The president of the board in public service radio, SR, is traditionally from Moderaterna and the president of the board of public service educational programs (do not ask why this is a seperate entity) is traditionally from Folkpartiet. The rest of the boards are generally mixed but with a hefty representation of politicians from the biggest parties. And the socialdemocrats are over representated as they have held power for most of the time.

It is problematic that governmentally owned companies, universities, governmental agencies and so on are run by a politicians that needed a new position, but this has nothing in particular to do with public service television. Do you object to paying your fee for the electrical grid to Vattenfall based on them (in all probability) having a board with a lot of socialdemocrats? Otherwise I believe point 3 is moot.

All the journalists are commies, more or less.

No they are not, unless perhaps if you use the test that made you social democrat...

Combine this with #3 and you get a public service as "fair and balanced" as Fox News.

Then you should hear what self-described communists thinks of the capitalist filth spewed from this part of the MSM.

In spite of this they spend vast amounts of taxpayer money to make PR about themselves being "Free television" free from any outside power, airing clips with the guy and the tanks on Tiananmen Square and such. It's absolutely sickening.

I do believe that it can not have been that wast amounts since they did not advertise outside their own channels and the adds consisted stock footage, some music and text sliding across the screen. Anyway self-promotion is always sickening if you disagree with the promoters.

Did you see the parody 'Mediemagasinet' (swedish tv-show at SVT) made of "Free television"? Or was it 'Faktum' (another swedish tv-show at SVT) that made it? Anyway it was quite good.

Now I shall stop derialing my own diary, which after all was not about tv license. And one of the points I try to make above is that neither are these scandals (except to a very small extent).

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Oct 15th, 2006 at 06:49:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Update:

Stegö Chìlo resigned today. Replacements are yet to be appointed.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Oct 16th, 2006 at 11:27:06 AM EST
The office will be temporary held by the leader of the liberal party who is also minister of education.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Oct 16th, 2006 at 12:19:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yep, just saw that on Yahoo News.

So who's going to fight the commies?

by Laurent GUERBY on Mon Oct 16th, 2006 at 02:57:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Someone will -- apparently all across the world, for the Right, Kulturkampf muss sein.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Oct 16th, 2006 at 03:03:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]

Top Diaries