More change

Well the election saw a shift to the right of centre from the left of centre where the Swedish government has been for many years. Forty one year old Fredrik Reinfeldt is the new prime minister of Sweden. The Guardian (British newspaper) yesterday commented, that “faced with a new, energetic, media-smart and younger opposition leader in the Moderate party’s Fredrik Reinfeldt, Mr Persson (the former PM) was unable to persuade voters that they should give him another mandate or that the challenger was really out to wreck the country’s world-famous cradle-to-grave welfare system.”

The Alliance majority was not huge, but it showed that people are ready for change. The Guardian suggests that, “much of the Social Democrats’ decline can be attributed to time, boredom and bad luck – especially the government’s disastrous response to the Asian tsunami, in which many Swedes died. The murder of the popular foreign minister, Anna Lindh, was a blow too. The larger lesson is that when a government is tired and a fresh-sounding opposition does not look too threatening, there can be an opportunity for electoral change…”

Only time will tell how things go. When people are unhappy they tend to try to change the status quo. But expectations are so high in the western world that it will take a lot to convince the Swedes, who are basically a fairly conservative bunch it seems to me, that life is better under the new government than under the Social Democrats with whom they are so familiar. There have been short lived swings to the right in the past. But the election on Sunday shows that many Swedes are questioning whether the policies of the Social Democrats are really the best for their society, despite the incredible cradle to grave social security system which they have created and which seems outwardly to be so wonderful.

In our family change has come too. Maria started work yesterday at the hospital. She is only on the casual roster, but it is a foot in. She came home at 10.30 last night exhausted and was up before 6 this morning to head off again. Nursing shifts have always seemed to me particularly uncivilised!


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