Thursday, October 19, 2006
The new Swedish goverment of Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt's Alliance for Sweden has seen two of its new cabinet appointees resign after only ten days in power. After Trade Minister Maria Borelius resigned having been caught hiring nannies on the black, new Culture Minister Cecilia Stego Chilo handed in her badge for the same misdemeanour, as well as a failure to pay her TV licence for sixteen years, which, for a Minister for Culture might raise eyebrows even among a people as legendarily uncivic as the Irish.
When Reinfeldt's government took power a couple of weeks back I was not too concerned as Sweden's conservatives these days are more like so-called socialists in most other parts of Europe and are unlikely to attempt the (relatively) disastrous social rollbacks that Carl Bildt's early-90's government effected, though Bildt is back in government as Foreign Minister. And besides, after almost ten years of rule by Göran Persson's SDP, a change is not a terrible thing for a couple of years, and neither is the far right involved, as has been the case in Norway and Denmark. Change might even be healthy.
What is amusing though is the fact that minor offences can be such causes for concern in the body politic. One part of me giggles while another part salutes this alertness to a rot in the state of Sweden, an alertness that has its root firmly in Protestant righteousness. Irish people would laugh at you if you suggested that tax evasion was a resigning issue. And so would many other peoples in Europe. No surprise then that Bertie's doctoring of the substantial payments he received from friends and donors while Minister for Finance in 1993 should see his governments rating rise. We have a lot to learn from those self-righteous Swedes.