• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Will schools lead to a split in the Alliance?

The Local · 7 Jan 2014, 15:23

Published: 07 Jan 2014 15:23 GMT+01:00

The Christmas and New Year holidays are understandingly some of the calmest days in the Swedish political landscape. So too are the first few days in January before most people have returned to work. Still, even these quiet days have seen a buildup to the “super election” year of 2014.

Take the debate about falling school results as an example. Retired professor Kjell-Åke Forsgren recently wrote that it is no coincidence that today’s school system underperforms in comparison to the system that existed in mid-20th century Sweden. Previously, the goal was to encourage students to aim high. Forsgren argues that today schools are organized based on the notion that all students should reach the same goals. How can this be achieved other than by lowering expectations to that of the average student?

Perhaps most interesting is what the Moderate Party is saying about state control over schools. In 1989, Social Democrat Göran Persson (who seven years later became prime minister) was the newly appointed education minister. His key reform was transferring authority over schools from the state to municipalities. Still today, many discuss whether this move was a good one or a bad one. The National Union of Teachers (Lärarnas Riksförbund) supports re-strengthening state control over schools. As does the Swedish Liberal Party (Folkpartiet). But the main center-right party, the Moderates – the party of Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt – have argued that they are against increased state control.

On its surface, this doesn’t seem particularly dramatic, or even interesting. But one should remember the formation of the four-party center-right “Alliance” in 2004 significantly changed Swedish politics. For much of the 20th century, Sweden was almost seen as a one-party, social democratic state. The Social Democrats formed their own governments, sometimes with support from smaller parties on the left or right, and sometimes based on own majorities. The center-right parties were too fractured by in-fighting to be seen as a viable alternative. The creation of the Alliance, coupled with reduced voter support for the Social Democrats, changed the dynamic. Suddenly, the center-right parties offered the most stable government formation, whilst the parties on the left had difficulties formulating common goals and strategies.

The opposition of the Moderates to state control over schools can be seen as significant in the light of the Alliance and its attempt to win what would be an unprecedented third election victory in a row. In effect, the Moderates oppose a central part of the educations policies of Liberals – one of the core issues for the latter. In some ways, the Moderates stance could be seen ti signal their belief that the failure to stop the slide of the Swedish school system (one of the reasons the center-right were voted into power) is the fault of the Folkpartiet, whose leader Jan Björklund is education minister.

Of course, this subtle form of in-fighting (the Moderates do not explicitly write anything negative about the Liberals) is to be expected within the frame of a political alliance. But we live in a time when both the governing parties and the opposition are hard pressed by an upcoming European parliamentary election this spring, followed a few months later by a national election – and by the rising popularity of the far-right, nationalist Sweden Democrats.

Story continues below…

Is the Alliance, in its tenth year of existence, beginning to crumble? It will be interesting to see if the four Alliance parties stick together, or begin relying more on individual ideas, even challenging policies of their own center-right coalition partners. When it comes to the European elections in May, having common policies is not as important – since the parties do not necessarily collaborate in the same party groups in the European Parliament. But the internal friction within the Alliance, as well as the challenges facing the opposition parties, will almost certainly be one of the main issues in Sweden's 2014 parliamentary election in September. 

Dr. Nima Sanandaji, a Swedish writer of Kurdish origin, has written numerous books and reports about policy issues in Sweden. He is a regular contributor to The Local.

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Royal baptism day for Sweden's Prince Oscar
Prince Oscar with Crown Princess Victoria, Princess Estelle and King Carl XVI Gustaf. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

UPDATED: Royalty, dignitaries and other esteemed figures took to Stockholm's Royal Chapel for the ceremony.

Giant replica of Swedish 18th century ship up for sale
The Götheborg setting sail from Stockholm in 2008. Photo: Claudio Bresciani / TT

A replica of a doomed Swedish merchant vessel that sank in 1745 within sight of its home port of Gothenburg has been put up for sale.

Video
The top reactions to Swedish high heels handyman video
Andersson was in agony after a day of laying floors in high heels. Photo: Emil Andersson

What did The Local's readers think about this viral clip challenging sexist beauty ideals?

Border checks
First migrants make it from Denmark to Sweden on foot
The Öresund bridge between Sweden and Denmark. Photo: Erland Vinberg/TT

Dozens of attempts have been made, but this is the first successful crossing since Sweden introduced ID and border checks.

Brexit
Poll: Swedes are worried about Brexit consequences
The possibility of Brexit has Swedes worried about the EU's future. Photo: Lars Pehrson/SvD/TT

Swedes are worried about what may happen both at home and abroad if Britain votes to leave the EU in June.

The Local Recipes
Fend off the bad weather with a Swedish beetroot salad
Beetroot salad with cumin and feta. Photo: John Duxbury/Swedish Food

Rain, rain, go away.

How a Swedish rocker saved the life of this cute baby elk
Erik Brodén's daughters Tyra and Brita with the elk baby. Photo: Private

Probably the sweetest story you'll read today.

Man sentenced over dinner party murder in west Sweden
The man during a preliminary court hearing last year. Photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT

He stabbed his friend at a dinner party and attempted to kill two others.

The Local List
Ten reasons why Varberg is the best place in Sweden
The Local shows some love for Varberg. Photo: Mikael Pilstrand/MarknadVarberg

Forget Stockholm, Gothenburg or Malmö, it looks like seaside town Varberg is Sweden's place to be.

Zlatan on his future: 'I made my choice a long time ago'
Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Thursday's press conference. Photo: Marcus Ericsson/TT

Go on then, Zlatan, tell us what it is.

Sponsored Article
How to find student housing in Malmö: 5 tips
Gallery
People-watching: May 25th
Sponsored Article
Can you afford to live in Stockholm? (Hint: yes)
Society
WATCH: Why Swedish handyman wore pink high heels for feminism
Sport
LIST: Top-ten ridiculous things Zlatan has compared himself to
Blog updates

20 May

Editor’s blog, May 20th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hello readers, Do not mention Abba! Or cuckoo clocks! Our most read article this week was…" READ »

 

17 May

What about “att”? (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! It often seems like the small words are the ones that cause the most confusion.…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
'Sweden gives artists the space to follow their dreams'
Business & Money
Why Swedes don't want the euro
Sponsored Article
Stockholm makes it easier for refugees to meet startups
Fastighetsbyrån
Gallery
Property of the week: Vika, Falun
National
Is this the most Swedish tattoo ever?
Gallery
People-watching: May 20th-22nd
Sponsored Article
Food, fun, and reliable sun: Summer in Dubrovnik
National
How to really annoy a Swede abroad
Sponsored Article
How Stockholm startups help new employees feel at home
National
How this war veteran is warming hearts in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: May 18th
Sponsored Article
'Only soft power can defeat radicalism'
National
How this Swede's viral ad totally nailed Stockholm's housing crisis
Sponsored Article
Why Stockholm attracts so many successful researchers
Gallery
Property of the week: Vasastaden, Gothenburg
Lifestyle
The best Swedish cities for dating
Gallery
People-watching: May 13th-15th
Sponsored Article
'Sweden gives artists the space to follow their dreams'
Culture
BLOG: Eurovision as it happened
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
National
Why a 116-year-old Swede isn't the world's oldest woman
Sponsored Article
Can you afford to live in Stockholm? (Hint: yes)
National
Youth unemployment falls in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: May 11th
Gallery
People-watching: May 6th-8th
Politics
Why Sweden's Greens are in free fall
National
Can these cartoon Swedes help foreigners blend in?
National
Why this fearless woman is the talk of Sweden
National
Sweden set for sunny weekend
3,348
jobs available
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se