The Socialist 20 September 2002 |
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Sweden - Spectacular Gains For Socialists In Local Polls
MEMBERS OF the Swedish section of the Committee for a Workers' International, Rattvisepartiet Socialisterna (RS), are celebrating spectacular gains in the general election held on 15 September.
In the two most populous cities in northern Sweden, RS now has five city councillors (up from two in 1998). In Umea city council, where RS was first elected in 1991, our vote rose by 38% since the last election (2,948 votes), delivering a third council seat.
In Lulea, RS more than doubled its result from 1998 to 1,497 votes, cruising into the council with two seats. In both cases, our gains were at the expense of the Left Party (ex-Communists) who were hammered for supporting spending cuts and privatisations and their "fatal attraction" to the ruling Social Democrats (SAP).
The gains for RS show the potential for a fighting alternative on a national level.
Nationally, the Left Party and the conservative Moderates were the biggest losers. The Left Party fell from 12% to 8.3%. One Left Party leader attributed the swing to the SAP (from 36.4% to 40%) to its "left policies" - a statement which stands reality on its head.
Fear of a victory for the bloc of four official "bourgeois" parties and their programme of massive tax and spending cuts galvanised support behind the government.
But the Left Party's rightward shift and track record in more than 100 local councils, which they control together with others, led to a haemorrhage of former supporters to the 'original' SAP.
Within the 'bourgeois' alliance the Moderates, most associated with tax cuts, suffered their worst result since 1973 while the Liberals tripled their result by openly flirting with racism.
Many international commentators have interpreted the result as reflecting a revival of the old, reformist, Swedish Social Democracy.
On the contrary the SAP made few promises in the election and the Prime Minister told journalists he was prepared to make cuts "in every area" if necessary to avert a return to budget deficits.