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Social Democrats' patronage is 'corruption'

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14:16 CET+01:00
Sweden has become a “democratic one-party state” in which the Social Democrats have used their power of patronage to politicise the civil service and government agencies, the opposition Alliance has alleged in a new report. The four conservative-liberal parties used the report to call for more transparent procedures for appointing top bureaucrats.

The Social Democrats are consistently breaking the United Nations' corruption convention by openly preferring to appoint Social Democrats to powerful positions in the public sector, the Alliance of the Moderate Party, Liberals, Centre Party and Christian Democrats said.

“Their long run in power has allowed them to make a clear imprint on society through passing reforms to guarantee the flow of new voter groups and to reward allies for their loyalty,” the parties' joint committee said in a statement.

“Two changes are needed. Firstly, a new government is needed. Secondly, that through controls and monitoring all tendencies of cronyism and abuse of power are stopped – no matter who is in power.”

The report pointed to statements by former Social Democrat prime minister Ingvar Carlsson in which he said that it is natural for senior civil servants to be recruited from Social Democrat circles. He alleged that the business world was closed to many Social Democrats, and that the state therefore preferred to choose them for top public-sector positions.

The Social Democrats have built up an “empire” of organisations “which permeate society and follow the citizen from the cradle to the grave,” the report alleged.

The most politicised of all the state agencies was labour office AMS, which “during its half-century long existence has never had a non-Social Democrat as its boss.”

The report also said that Sweden has a political climate “where people who are not willing to confine themselves to a narrow, Social Democratic opinion range, are often seen as dissidents.” It said that it used to be almost impossible to question anti-Americanism and “cosying up to left-wing dictatorships.”

Social Democrats were accused of forming a political class that created strict rules for society that those at the top were not forced to follow. It took the example of housing policy, in which “patiently waiting in year-long housing queues is the height of virtue,” yet in which a rental apartment is “never more than a phone call away” for political and union leaders.

The opposition promised to introduce a new system that was more open and predictable. They also said that parliamentary committees should in future be allowed to question appointmentees to senior posts.

“Appointments are an instrument of power – Göran Persson has shown that very clearly,” the parties said.

“It is therefore important that there is an open process and the possibility to investigate appointments that have been made. Our proposals aim to achieve this openness.”

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