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[经济学人] [2010.1.23]Sweden leans left again 瑞典右翼倾向再次消失









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发表于 2010-4-29 03:04 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
Sweden leans left again  瑞典右翼倾向再次消失

Trouble at home

Fredrik Reinfeldt’s government is falling out of favour with voters

Jan 21st 2010
From The Economist print edition

“WE DID our best,” said Carl Bildt, as he handed over the presidency of the European Union to Spain at the start of January. The Swedish foreign minister takes pride in his country’s accomplishments, which included shepherding through the much-delayed Lisbon treaty, making progress with EU enlargement and doing some good work on financial regulation and climate change. Fredrik Reinfeldt, the prime minister, even averted a possible row among his colleagues in the delicate matter of filling top EU jobs. Most EU leaders praised Sweden’s centre-right government for its competent stewardship.


But Mr Reinfeldt’s voters are less happy. A recent poll put support for the opposition Social Democrats at 52%, giving them a whopping 11-point lead over the government. Mr Reinfeldt, who led his centre-right coalition to victory in 2006 after 12 years in the political wilderness, has just eight months left to narrow the gap before the next election, on September 19th.


The economic crisis will make his task much harder. Along with most of the EU, Sweden’s economy started to recover in the second half of 2009, albeit slowly. But the previous 12 months of recession have left deep scars. Heavyweight Swedish companies such as Saab, Telia and the airline SAS have shed thousands of jobs. Although the government plans to keep its fiscal-stimulus measures in place, unemployment will rise further. The government predicts a level of 10.7% this year, up from 8.5% in 2009. Anders Borg, Sweden’s respected finance minister, concedes that the jobs situation “will remain difficult”.


Public-spending and benefit cuts are likely to make life harder for the government. Many pensioners are complaining about the bipartisan formula that links pensions to GDP growth, since it has meant reduced pensions in the recession. Some welfare recipients are objecting to the government’s “heartless” efforts to get them back into the workforce. In hard times Swedes’ natural centre-left instincts tend to come to the fore.


One surprising result of the crisis has been a softening of opposition to the idea of adopting Europe’s single currency, the euro. Swedes rejected a proposal to join in a referendum in 2003. For the most part they have since shown little inclination to change their minds. A recent poll, however, reported a slim margin in favour of joining. Even the Centre Party, a member of the centre-right coalition, seems to be warming to the idea. But another referendum is unlikely to be held soon. The Social Democrats, who lost the previous one, have said they do not want the issue put to voters during the next parliament.


If Mr Reinfeldt ends up losing in September to the Social Democrats’ Mona Sahlin, it will have historical resonance. Sweden’s previous centre-right government, an energetic reforming one led by Mr Bildt in the early 1990s, lost in 1994 largely because it had the misfortune to be hit by an economic crisis. Something similar occurred in the late 1970s. If it happens this September as well, Mr Reinfeldt might be forgiven for concluding that, in Sweden, the centre-right is forever jinxed by crises that are largely not of its making.



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