Posts Tagged ‘Deputy Prime Minister’

A Deputy PM who isn’t (if you are in Sweden and the deputy is a “green”)

July 19, 2015

The Swedish Social Democrats were forced to bring the Environmental Party into government to cobble together a majority in parliament with external support from the Left Party (rebranded communists). The leader of the Greens, Åsa Romson, was given the title of “Deputy Prime Minister” but it has now been revealed that in the agreement between the Social Democrats and the Greens, the position was entirely titular. Fortunately the Social Democrats were sane enough and responsible enough not to allow the possibility of a Green Deputy PM actually stepping in to replace the PM when he was abroad or ill. That would be more frightening than nuclear weapons with a rogue state.

This agreement came to light this week when the PM, Stefan Löfven, was taken ill – just for a few hours – on his return from a trip abroad. Though he has not named any particular person to fill his empty shoes, it is usually the Foreign Minister, Margot Wallström, also a Social Democrat, who steps in.

Opposition parties have been quick to take pot-shots. “Unconstitutional”, said some of them, “to have a deputy who wasn’t”.

All good fun, but there is a serious point. The Greens are not seen, even by their partners in government, as being responsible enough to be allowed to take the reins. And that is the reality. The 6 Green Party Ministers in this government have, in my perception, amply demonstrated their inexperience which borders on the incompetent. They are a destructive force, primarily concerned with stopping actions from others,  but have few constructive ideas of their own. They raise barriers when others want to “do” but “do” very little themselves.

Dagens Nyheter: The Green Party spokesperson Åsa Romson’s is Deputy Prime Minister – but will still not act as replacement for Stefan Löfven (S). Instead, it is Margot Wallström, who has that role in government.

According to information provided to DN the Social Democrat leaders did  not want to give Romson the responsibility to lead the country in a crisis.

“Stefan Löfven has not appointed a deputy. Since no specific proxy has been appointed the role is taken by the longest serving Minister” says Hans Dahlgren (S), State Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office.

In the red-green government, Foreign Minister, Margot Wallström is the longest serving minister. Therefore she has, whenever available, led most of the cabinet meetings that have taken place since last autumn whenever Stefan Löfven has been abroad or absent for other reasons.

…….. when the Social Democrats and the Green Party negotiated for government posts last autumn, the parties agreed that Åsa Romsons title as Deputy Prime Minister was merely titular.

“We made no demands about getting an operational deputy post when we negotiated to enter government. It was more important for us to have clear responsibilities and cooperation in government”, says Åsa Romson.

The issue came to a head on Thursday when Stefan Löfven after a trip to Ethiopia suffered acute nausea and was taken by ambulance from the airport to the Karolinska University Hospital. But it took more than a day for the Prime Minister to answer DN’s questions on the matter.

The Green Party is based on agitation when in opposition. In government they flop about like fish on dry land.

Japanese demographics are alarming as Finance Minister tells elderly to “Hurry up and die”

January 27, 2013

The demographic strains in Japan are beginning to tell. They face a shrinking population and an increasing proportion of the elderly and without measures to increase the productive proportion of the population the situation is not sustainable. That the problems are not in some long distant future but are already exercising the minds of the current administration shows in the outburst from the new Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, Taro Aso, when he exhorted the elderly to “Hurry up and Die”

The Japanese deputy prime minister Taro Aso kicked up a storm of controversy Monday with his comments on the financial burden the elderly place on society. 

The 72-year old finance minister said elderly should be allowed to “hurry up and die” at a meeting of the National Council on Social Security reforms, hoping to ease the financial strain caused by an aging population where fertility rates are low and the economy is struggling. Heaven forbid if you are forced to live on when you want to die,” Aso said. “You cannot sleep well when you think it’s all being paid for by the government.” 

“This won’t be solved unless you let them hurry up and die.” …. Aso is no stranger to controversy: the former prime minister once said he wanted to make Japan the kind of country where “the richest Jews would want to live,” and compared the opposition to the Nazis.

But the fact is that he is the first politician who has dared to defy political correctness – his subsequent apology notwithstanding – and address what is likely to be Japan’s most serious challenge within the next decade. It is a challenge that is going to come to dominate the realities in Europe as well. In the US – and in some countries in Europe –  it is the continuing immigration into the ranks of the productive population which helps to keep this challenge a little further away in the future. In any event it will be population decline that is the global issue within one hundred years. Globally the proportion of productive population to elderly population will not be so wrong – but it will be too low where population is declining unless active measures to keep this in balance are taken.

The latest data from the Japanese National Institute of Population show why Aso is so alarmed. The projections for the next few years of the rate at which the productive population is declining are alarming.

Aso’s outburst is not palatable or feasible but there are only 4 basic ways to address this issue:

  1. reduce the proportion of elderly requiring support 
  2. increase the birth rate,
  3. allow immigration to bolster the productive part of the population , and
  4. increase the age at which the elderly get support from the state

Increasing the birth rate is a long term measure and that assuming that birth rate can be increased. In the short term it has to be immigration into the productive portion of the population which can have an effect (assuming of course that they can contribute to growth).

But before the demographic challenge can be addressed it has to be acknowledged and maybe Aso’s outburst – unpleasant as it is – will bring the issue to the table.

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