Election watch: Thanks, Reinfeldt!
Today, Saturday, the opposition leader Fredrik Reinfeldt gave his annual summer speech in Vaxholm. I was hoping to travel there on a boat with the other Swedish journalists, but according to the Conservative party’s press people, the boat “was full”. This also happened when I was covering the right wing alliance campaigning in southern Sweden. Then the bus for the journalists was at best half full, according to other journalists and the press secretary of Folkpartiet. But according to the press boss of the Conservative party, the bus “was overloaded with people”. Anyway, I was happy to travel by public transport that time, and I did not bother taking the bus to Vaxholm instead. These things only reinforce my belief that all people should be treated the same way, like we to the left of center often say.
Anyway, my analysis of Reinfeldt’s speech today is threefold.
1. Reinfeldt said that everything the Social Democrats will do in order to improve welfare (especially schools and hospitals were mentioned), the Conservatives will do as well. This is indeed very interesting, and a way for them to try to face the voters as less extreme. But I don’t think the voters will be excited about a party that promises to do nothing on their own, but exactly what the ruling party is promising. In that case, why not vote for the real thing?
2. Reinfeldt also promised more tax cuts and to spend more money on different reforms for the elderly, pupils with special demands, and to make it cheaper for companies to hire young people. This might sound as interesting proposals, but if you add things up, who will pay for it? Voters will understand that: a) all the big tax cuts, combined with the reforms, would again create a big, black hole in Sweden’s public finances; b) the conservatives will have to save money somewhere in order not to create that big, black hole right away. And it is old-age pensioners, early retirees, the sick and unemployed, who will finance the policies and tax cuts. Why on earth does Reinfeldt want to save money on those in need, in order to afford big tax cuts?
3. Reinfeldt did not, as usual, refer to a vision or an ideology or a set of common values when he delivered his speech. He was bad-mouthing Sweden’s Prime Minister Göran Persson for ages, he tried to speak about foreign policy but only sounded ill informed and unnecessarily pro-Israeli, and then he delivered his policy proposals. What kind of values is driving his dream about what Sweden and the world should be like in 2020? Two more tax cuts and a bad joke about Göran Persson?
I know, I am very biased, but I was not impressed today. But I am extremely happy that Reinfeldt talked about tax-cuts again (welcome back, you old tax cutting conservatives) and that he still clearly does not have a vision. Thanks, Reinfeldt!
(An analysis of the speech in Swedish by Nina Blomberg will soon be published at www.aip.nu)