Posts Tagged ‘Environmental Party’

Farce continues as trade unions force the Swedish Social Democrats to dump the Greens

December 11, 2014

Just a week ago the Swedish Social Democratic Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven, lost a budget vote in parliament. The whole process was one of low farce. The budget was one his party and their Green (Environment Party) partners in government and supported by the far Left party had put forward. After the loss he announced that he would call an “extra” election as soon as it was permitted on 29th December and to be held on 22nd March 2015. He was quite belligerent and adamant that the joint budget with the Greens (the one defeated) was the very best for Sweden and that they would go to the hustings on the basis of the joint budget. The Greens were quite happy to ride his coattails for it gave them an exposure and a position at the High Table that they could never otherwise have commanded.

In the next day or two it became pretty obvious that it was the Social Democrats shift far to the left with the Greens and the Left party which effectively blocked any possible cooperation with parties further on the right. But Löfven was not prepared to give up his new found friends on the left. Even though it meant that his government was now required to administer the opposition’s alternate budget which had won in parliament until the new elections. Effectively income tax levels would continue throughout 2015 at the levels of the opposition’s budget. Even some expenditure items would have to remain static for the best part of 2015. He kept repeating the self-contradictory mantra that his party would contest the elections as a separate party but on the basis of the joint budget with the Greens. His propping up of the Greens and his obsession with the goodness of his Red/Green budget was becoming untenable.

Many voices within the Social Democrats pointed out the inconsistencies of this position but he stuck to his partnership. But the final straw came when the head of the Landsorganisation (representing the trade unions of Sweden) came out publicly  with the advice to abandon the Greens and fight the election on their own strengths – not least because any coalition agreements could only be negotiated later if they were not encumbered by the Greens and the Left party.

Dagens Nyheter(1):

Stefan Löfven should go to elections without the Green Party. So says a deeply concerned LO chairman Karl-Petter Thorwaldsson.

“Sweden is in a dangerous position, we are no longer seen as a politically stable country, we risk investment and jobs. The image of Sweden as stable, pragmatic and growth-friendly gave us investment and more jobs”, says LO’s chairman. He now sees this threatened on several fronts.

Mainly because of the parliamentary mess. But also because of the Green Party’s influence,  which he has criticized strongly several times in recent months. Among other things their requirements for nuclear decommissioning, the decision to close Bromma airport and postpone the Stockholm Bypass.

The Social Democrats ignore the trade unions at their peril. And Löfven has now been forced to back down and throw the Greens under the bus. But his contortions to keep his position today in touch with his position a week ago are also a little farcical.

Dagens Nyheter (2):

On Thursday the LO boss Karl-Petter Thorwaldsson put it plainly to DN: “Stefan Löfven should throw MP overboard and go to the polls alone”.

So on Thursday Löfven gave a number of bizarre answers. On the one hand, he had intended to do just that (dump the Greens) all the time – even though his press conference with Gustav Fridolin last week clearly showed that this cooperation was firm and fixed. “We like thecooperation we have and we have a very strong budget,” said Löfven.

Dagens Nyheter is scathing:

  • The Social Democrats are going to go to the polls alone, 
  • but together with the MP (Green Party),
  • with a budget that does not apply anymore
  • but which will anyway form the basis for future policy.

The show goes on. At least farces and pantomimes are quite suited to the festive season.

“Green” ministers in Swedish government off to a rocky start

November 7, 2014

It has only been a month since the new Red/Green government took over in Sweden. So it is early days yet. Inexperience abounds both among the Social Democrats (the senior coalition partner) and among the Environment party ministers. The Social Democrats are running a little scared and appear to be bent on appeasing far left and Green party demands. The far left party is not in government but has an inordinate influence since the coalition itself does not have its own majority. The Green party has already stopped many development projects around Stockholm (as they usually do) and the Social Democrats have not been strong enough to stop their job destruction.

The Green party does not have party leaders – only spokespersons – which is a wonderful way of evading responsibility. They have six ministers in the new government. The group is very politically correct with 3 men and 3 women. But with ages ranging between 31 and 51, I observe that they have little chance of (and no interest in) reflecting the views of the increasing number of senior citizens.

Any new government must have its share of inexperience and I have no quarrel with that. But incompetence in a minister is not so forgivable. They have not particularly enhanced their reputations so far. Instead many have been demonstrating an inexperience which borders on either an embarrassing level of naiveté or some level of incompetence. I don’t have any great expectations of them.

  • Åsa Romson, 42, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Environment and Climate, is usually fairly circumspect in what she says.  She has a doctorate in international environmental rights but her speeches tend to be a string of very politically correct cliches. There is little evidence of an open mind or any great thought beyond the parroting of cliches. She has however demonstrated a sad lack of judgement by appointing a convicted drug trafficker to the Cabinet Office as her closest aide. She has defended her choice on the grounds that he has served his sentence and has paid his debt to society. But she misses the point. It is her judgement in having someone who is known to drink himself senseless and who is a convicted drug trafficker at the highest office of government which is in question. I would have thought that he would be privy to a great many confidential matters and an obvious security risk.
  • Gustav Fridolin, 31, is the Education Minister (!). He has been a peace activist, been arrested by the Israelis in the West Bank  and won Junior Jeopardy at the age of 11. By the age of 19 he was a Member of Parliament. He has also been a TV reporter. He has not attended university or any other form of higher education. Soon after being appointed he addressed all Swedish teachers by YouTube! A remarkably patronising effort directed at teachers as if they were 10 year old children. If I were a teacher I would be horribly depressed by the childish approach of the Education Minister. He too demonstrated some poor judgement when he chose an aide to work within government who was then rejected (after having worked for two days) by the Security Services for being heavily in debt.
  • Per Bolund, 43, is the Deputy Finance Minister and the Minister for Financial Markets and Consumers. He is by education a biologist but never completed his doctorate. He has not made any real blunders yet, though his immediate castigation of Swedish banks when they came through the recent stress tests with flying colours, seemed more a reflex, ideological twitch rather than any considered opinion. As a member of the Environmental party it is not in his genes to ever acknowledge that any part of the finance sector has done well. He is – of course – generally in favour of raising taxes wherever possible.
  • Isabella Lövin, 51, is the Minister of International Development Cooperation (Foreign Aid) and has kept a relatively low profile so far. She made some fine sounding statements about the €16 million Swedish support (out of €1 billion from the EC and the EU)  for helping the African countries fighting Ebola. Unfortunately this was somewhat negated by the subsequent Swedish rejection of a request for treatment of an aid worker suspected to have been infected. She was not the one to make the rejection which was more due to a bureaucratic approach to emergency situations. She has probably supported the government in its largely symbolic – but rather useless – gesture of recognising the state of Palestine. Another “feel good” action without objectives.
  • Mehmet Kaplan, 43, is of Turkish origin and is the Housing and City Development Minister. In July this year he equated the ISIS jihadists with freedom fighters. He has been very active in the past in trying to get subsidies for mosques but his record on Sharia Law and radicalisation of young Muslims is rather ambivalent. The right-wing Sweden Democrats like to target him, but he does gets a little bit of a free ride from the media and other politicians because of his opponents’ fear of being seen as islamophobic and politically incorrect. (A little reminiscent of the politicians who did not dare enough in Rotherham). He has yet to make his mark.
  • Alice Bah Kuhnke, 43, is the Minister of Culture and Democracy and has made a rather inept start. She has a degree in political science and is best known as a children’s programme and talk-show host on Swedish TV. She had a disastrous radio interview where she rejected many questions for being hypothetical. Her attempts to correct the fiasco with her own article in the press only made it worse. Surprisingly she is not comfortable in granting the press access and tries to control and micro-manage their questions. She is also getting herself horribly mixed up whenever she tries to equate culture with ecology and sustainable development. Her take on what constitutes culture leaves a little to be desired.

This group of six do not fill with me any great confidence but it is early days yet.

Maybe they will all grow into their jobs. Maybe they will perform better than my very low expectations.

But as a group they have not started very well. I am left with the impression that they are all a little too light-weight for the responsibilities that they may well fail to carry. There is a real risk that this group of six will only help in bringing this government further into disrepute.

Have Green Parties in Europe been hijacked by the Far Left?

October 15, 2013

I have a theory that the fall of communism and the subsequent meltdown and demise of the Communist Parties in Western Europe (most immediately dropped the word “communist” from their names) then led to many of the core supporters of the communists hijacking the Green Parties to gain a measure of respectability. This infiltration of the green parties by the forces of the hard-left was enabled by the relative inexperience of the do-gooding environmental enthusiasts who had initially set up the Environmental parties.

It is my thesis that the take-over by the hard left of the Greens started after about 1995 (with the wall falling in 1990) and has been going on ever since. Not just the political parties but even organisations like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth and even the WWF have all effectively been taken over by the Far Left. The current behaviour of Greenpeace is a case in point. Today most Green Parties in Europe are indistinguishable in their policies from the Communist Parties of old (in Western Europe) though usually hidden under a cloak of environmentalism.

A recent analysis of voting patterns in the Swedish Parliament seems to support my hypothesis. The Environmental Party (MP) seems to be much more closely aligned to the Far Left Party (V) than to the Social Democrats (S) and closer than the Social Democrats are to the Far Left. This same picture spans all the main policy committees; Traffic, Justice, Foreign Affairs, Business and Industry and Environment and Farming.

Voting Patterns in the Swedish Parliament

In the diagram above the red bars indicate the level of agreement between the Greens (MP) and the Far Left (V) compared to the alignment of MP with S and of S with V.

Environmental parties would like to claim that this is because the Far Left has come closer to them but that doesn’t hold water. In issues of jobs or employment or industry or business or health, the Environmental Party policies are often just traditional Marxist dogma.

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