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Scandinavian Social Democracy

The Nordic model of social democracy offers lessons to the developing world, including countries like India, despite the myriad complexities of diversity.

The Nordic model of social democracy offers lessons to the developing world, including countries like India, despite the myriad complexities of diversity.

In the recent elections in Sweden, while the Social Democrats returned as the largest party according to preliminary results, a fragmented mandate saw it win only 107 of the 349-seat strong Riksdag (Swedish legislature) and 30.33 percent of the vote share. gave out. This meant that the coalition of which the Social Democrats were part, consisting of the Center Party, the Left Party and the Green Party, was left with 173 seats, as opposed to the right-wing coalition led by the Moderate Party, which received 176 seats. Was. seats. The Moderate party won only 68 seats, two fewer than its previous seats in 2018, but major gains among the right-wing were made by the right-wing Sweden Democrats, who won 73 seats and 20.54% of the vote, according to preliminary figures.

The Social Democrats’ current prime minister, Magdalena Andersen, conceded defeat and resigned, even as moderate leader Ulf Christerson is expected to form a government with offers of support from other right-wing parties. Some members of the coalition – representatives of the Liberal Party – have expressed their unwillingness to be part of a government that was backed by the Swedish Democrats and has accelerated the formation of a new government.

The threat to the Nordic model

The rise of the Sweden Democrats (SD), the party that originated the neo-Nazi movement in the country, into the mainstream of Swedish politics has much to do with the center of the discourse on immigration in the country. Many voters have expressed their concern about increasing immigration violence and control of crime. The SD has taken a tough stand against immigrants – Sweden played a major role in allowing refugees fleeing the Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan wars to seek asylum in 2010 – making it extremely difficult for asylum seekers to enter the country. By making a promise But whether the rise of the SD’s polarizing presence – which is not expected to be part of the new right-wing government but may give it issue-based support – threatens the Nordic model driven by political and social consensus as it is called in Sweden and Other Scandinavian countries? To answer that question, we need to understand what the Nordic model means, or if US Senator Bernie Sanders’ version is accepted, “democratic socialism.”

Socialism and Social Democracy

It would be wrong to call the politico-economic system in the Scandinavian countries “socialist” despite its strong welfare base and emphasis on collective bargaining. For one, the term “socialism” is associated with the rule of the erstwhile communist bloc, which was heavily dominated by the state with a one-party system not only in ownership of the major means of production, but also in political life. Its ideological basis for governance on the part of the working class.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, in recent years the new socialist regime has sought to distance itself from the one-party model in the so-called “other world”, focusing instead on maintaining the functioning of market economies with wealth. The emphasis is on redistribution. And a greater prominence for the state in the process. Governance in Latin America, led by ruling parties in Venezuela, Bolivia and more recently Chile, can be termed “democratic socialists” – achieving socialist goals of redistribution and reorganization of formal democratic and liberal institutions into highly unequal and elite-run systems. Want.

‘Extraordinary’ Scandinavian model

On the other hand, in Scandinavian countries, the systems are more similar to typical “social democracies” – reliance on representative and participatory democratic institutions where the separation of powers is ensured; a comprehensive social welfare schema with an emphasis on publicly provided social services and investments in child care, education and research, which are funded by progressive taxation; The presence of strong labor market institutions with active labor unions and employer unions that allow significant collective bargaining, wage negotiation and coordination, in addition to an active role in governance and policy. All these countries also follow the capitalist model of development, which allows the financing of entrepreneurship and welfare policies through large-scale wage taxation in relation to corporate taxes. (Norway is an exception where a higher corporate income tax rate is levied on extraction activities – the country is a major producer of oil and gas).

The similarities in the Scandinavian countries – Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland – are measurable in many of these respects. For example, among the countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (characterizing the highest income countries in the world), Iceland (90.7% workforce), Denmark (67%), Sweden (65.2%), Finland (58.8%). ) and Norway (50.4%) have the highest proportion of the workforce belonging to trade unions (data as of 2019). Education is free in all Nordic states; Health care is free in Denmark and Finland and partially free in Norway, Sweden and Iceland; Workers get many benefits from unemployment insurance to old age pension apart from effective child care. Therefore, labor participation rates in these countries are among the highest in the world (even among women). If calculated as a percentage of GDP, the five Nordic nations rank in the top 10 of the OECD countries in government spending on health and education.

Countries took many steps from the heyday of the Keynesian era to the 1970s in deregulation of industry and the privatization of some public services, but they placed greater emphasis on welfare, taxation and investment than the rest of the world, and Europe in particular. Huh. , This has helped these countries achieve significant results – higher levels of international trade and participation in globalization, economic progress, lower levels of inequality and higher living standards. In the most recent UNDP report, Norway ranks second among countries in the Human Development Index (0.961), Iceland at fourth (0.959), Denmark at sixth (0.948), Sweden at seventh (0.947) and Finland at 11 (0.940). The Nordic countries ranked highest across the world in various indices on freedom of the press and in indices that measure gender equality. They were placed among the top 20 countries in per capita gross domestic product (PPP, $) according to the most recent data from the World Bank.

key features

A major reason for the thriving social democratic models in the Nordic countries is their relatively smaller and more homogenous populations that enable concentrated governance. The “corporatist” model of involving the interests of both capital and labor mediated by the government at multiple levels allowed these countries to move relatively smoothly from agricultural to industrial to post-industrial (in some cases) and knowledge/service economies. is allowed. The tripartite consensus approach also emphasizes social policies “that facilitate the expansion of modern production, and thus more and better paying jobs”, as a book by Ole Tornquist and John Harris points out. The increased immigrant population in countries such as Sweden has brought new tensions to its social democratic model and its safety net.

The second similarity is the political presence of Social Democratic parties in these countries. Norway is ruled by the Social Democratic Labor Party in alliance with the Agricultural Center Party; Denmark is ruled by the Social Democrats, supported by the Red-Green Alliance, the Socialist People’s Party and the Social Liberal Party; The government of Finland is led by the Social Democratic Party in alliance with the Center Party, the Green League, the Left Alliance and the Swedish People’s Party, and Iceland is ruled by a coalition led by the Left-Green Movement, which replaced the opposition Social Democratic Alliance. left back. As the leading left wing force in the country. These social democratic parties consolidated support by reducing the impact of the global economic crisis in the 1930s. For example, unlike other social democratic parties in Europe, which rallied against the Nazis in Germany, Scandinavian social democrats “strengthened democracy, in broad alliance with agrarian parties based on favorable agricultural prices and universal social security.” entered … owned [than to] Economic expansion, more jobs and rising tax income….[This lead to] Equal citizenship rights and practical class agreement”, say Tornquist et al.

While social democratic parties do not today enjoy a prominent presence in the political party systems of these countries, they are still the largest organizing force in most of the Nordic countries. Due to labor and environmentalist movements thriving in civil society, the pole position of the centre/leftist social democratic parties in these countries has helped generate a political consensus on the welfare model, with the result that even the right/right wing of the center parties tend to keep them more. Huh. or less intact. The main differences between these parties have been on social and immigration issues, and some commentators believe that the growing influence of the SD in Sweden would not be a threat to its welfare model, despite its far-right party roots. In many ways, the Nordic model of social democracy offers lessons to the developing world, which includes countries like India despite the diversity, intra-internal development and myriad complexities of history.

essence

The rise of the Sweden Democrats (SD), the party that originated the neo-Nazi movement in the country, into the mainstream of Swedish politics has much to do with the center of the discourse on immigration in the country.

Scandinavian countries share these characteristics: reliance on representative and participatory democratic institutions where the separation of powers is ensured; a comprehensive social welfare schema with an emphasis on publicly provided social services and investments in child care, education and research, which are funded by progressive taxation; Presence of strong labor market institutions with active labor unions and employer unions that allow significant collective bargaining etc.

Due to labor and environmentalist movements thriving in civil society, the pole position of the centre/leftist social democratic parties in these countries has helped generate a political consensus on the welfare model, with the result that even the right/right wing of the center parties tend to keep them more. Huh. or less intact.

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