torsdag, september 21, 2006

Left-leaning election gave right-leaning government

As I've said earlier on, the best social democrat wins the Swedish elections. And the September 17th general election was a left-leaning election that led to a right-leaning government. All parties competed in trying to seem left wing.

The biggest election issue was unemployment. The right wing attacked us for being unable to create jobs. And our major mistake was that we never took this seriously. We tried to paint the Swedish economy in happy colours, and that was right as we're really booming right now, but it should have been completed with a program for full employment.

As the campaign seemed for voters, the party lacked the ability to deliver a vision. The social democrats in general and the leader Göran Persson in particular seemed tired and satisfied with society as it is. We were proud of what we have created and that is good, but we lacked the critique of the lingering inequalities. And you can't win elections on history.

Another key factor was that we never succeeded in revealing the right wing's policies as being what they are. Their strategy to out-social democrat the social democrats worked very well as voters chose to vote for personalities and "change" instead of voting for policy.

In this election, the alliance between the working class and the progressive middle class was put out of function. We lost the most among urban middle class voters and younger voters. The voters who could afford it, chose to give "New Labour" (yes, the conservatives called themselves that!) a chance.

But we also lost in the other end. In some areas, in particular in the south, we lost working class votes to the right-extremist Sverigedemokraterna. They succeeded to benefit from scaremongering on immigrants taking jobs and being criminals.

The work from now on is not to mourn, but to organise. We are still by far the biggest party in this country and we are not disliked by voters as the economy is very good. People are a bit tired of us and want to give the other gang a chance. But as their policy won't tackle unemployment it's just a question of time until voters will lose their patience with the old tories that has been elected under the cover of Mr Reinfeldt's New Labour.

We need a strong opposition policy that challenge the right wing government's policies. And we need to re-build the party on a grass-roots level, recruiting new members, being a popular movement once again.

But we also need to challenge our weakest point - the economic policy that led to Sweden having 5,5 per cent open unemployment in an economic boom. The politics during the 1990's meant that important steps were taken away from the Swedish model, the most important being that fighting inflation down to the buttom was prioritized before fighting unemployment. We need to start following our congress decision from november 2005 to put full employment first on the agenda.

You can read my earlier articles on the election campaign here, here, here, here and here.

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