“Too few politicians quit” – Persson

Too few Swedish politicians resign, and they are too afraid to accept personal responsibilty.

That was the argument put forward in a 1997 book by Göran Persson. Today, however, he is singing from a different hymn sheet: after last week’s stinging report on the government’s handling of the tsunami disaster, Sweden’s prime minister said that nobody would lose their job.

In the book, Those who are in debt are not free, Persson made his philosophy clear: leaders should pay for their mistakes with their jobs.

“Many of our bosses and leading politicians get criticised but remain in their jobs. It would be better if people left their jobs, often to go on to a much better life. I believe that if people went of their own accord and took the initiative it would be easier to make a comeback,” he said in one passage of the book, which was brought to light again by Swedish Radio on Tuesday.

Last week the Catastrophe Commission’s report said there were serious failings in the way the government handled the aftermath of the tsunami disaster.

The report was widely seen as containing the damning criticism of a Swedish government in living memory, but Persson appeared to have changed his philosophy. He insisted that his resignation or that of any member of his government would solve nothing.

“If it would ease people’s pain for us to point the finger at people in the government and say ‘you’re fired’ [then we would do it], but I don’t believe that it would.”

Sweden’s opposition parties are due to decide on Tuesday whethter to push for a vote of no-confidence in the prime minister following the tsunami report.