Sweden's Middle Way Continues

OLBERG, PAUL

The Social Democratic Labor party, in power since 1932, gets a new mandate for its welfare-state policies Sweden's Middle Way Continues By Paul Olberg Stockholm Next year, the Swedish Social...

...Except for one period of 101 days and the war years, when all parties but the Communists were represented reaching reforms in the areas of social legislation, education, etc., which would entail huge expenditures...
...it received 663,742 votes and 42 seats, for a gain of 119,817 votes and 11 seats...
...There are some million families with children in Sweden, of which roughly a half have only one child...
...The People's party, somewhat to the left of the Conservatives, stands second with support from the middle class, commercial interests and professionals...
...Since July of this year, every old-age pensioner, regardless of his social status, has received 2,100 kronor annually after the age of 67...
...Compared with 1952, this year's final election results contained some surprises...
...Nevertheless, the Opposition campaigners made no secret of their belief that the Social Democrats had held the reins too long and should, in all decency, step down...
...One painful surprise was the Communist gain...
...As for the election results, they can perhaps best he analyzed as follows: The Social Democratic party remains the largest and strongest party in Parliament...
...The Social Democrats received 1,-729,501 votes and 106 seats?2,783 votes and 4 seats less than in 1952...
...This program has...
...In 1952, this was raised to 1,400, in 1953 to 1,750...
...Ever since September 1932, when party chairman Per Albin Hansson formed a Social Democratic cabinet, the party has continuously headed the Government, forming a coalition with the Agrarians in order to maintain a stable majority in Parliament...
...Both partners scrupulously respect the fraternal relations between them, which arc organizationin the Government, this coalition has lasted up to the present day...
...The close link between the Labor party and the unions has existed for more than 50 years...
...at the same time, it has introduced Government price controls...
...Before World War II, about one-fifth of all Swedish families lived in modern dwellings with two rooms and a kitchen...
...The 150-member upper house, or Senate, is elected indirectly by municipal councils in the cities and by rural councils in the rest of the country...
...on the other hand, they promised, should they take power, to carry out the most farally anchored by the unions' collective affiliation with the party...
...It has undertaken a number of financial measures such as a moderate increase in interest rates, restrictions on credit, tax increases for industrial and financial firms, and regulation of the building industry...
...in 1952, it was raised to 290...
...Child care includes a monetary contribution, a housing allowance, free meals at school, free schoolbooks, nurseries for small children, and maternity benefits...
...Of these the Conservative party, which speaks for big industry, banking, high-level civil servants and the military, is the largest bourgeois Opposition group...
...Not to be forgotten is the fact that Sweden was fortunate enough to escape both World Wars...
...Municipal and rural elections are held at four-year intervals, midway in the lower house's term, enabling the people to pass judgment on the Government and the various parties every two years...
...The demagogic tactics were all too obvious...
...Another vital reform, also adopted in 1948, was carried out in the field of aid to parents...
...This propaganda method is particularly improper because Parliament has already enacted a general tax cut averaging 10 per cent which is to take effect on January 1. On the one hand, the Opposition parties demanded a drastic across-the-board tax cut...
...The Agrarians, who draw their support from farm owners, constitute the third important bourgeois party...
...All non-Communist Swedish parties subscribe to the principles of political democracy, which has been firmly entrenched in Sweden for some three decades...
...The Social Democratic government under Hausson set as its goal the transformation of Sweden into a welfare state...
...the country's development was not disrupted and major reforms could be carried out undisturbed...
...his successor Tape Erlanderówho is now marking his tenth anniversary as Premierócarried on the welfare-state concept...
...Full employment has been a reality in the country for years...
...The Social Democratic regime can also claim remarkable achievements in the area of housing...
...After Hansson's death on October 6, 1946...
...The problem of inflation has by no means been minimized by the Erlander Government...
...Under the pretext of defending the workers' freedom of political opinions, the Opposition parties have for some time been conducting vigor-our propaganda against this system...
...Socialist Prime Minister Tage Erlander has announced that his party will continue the long-standing governing coalition with the Agrarian party...
...In reality, union members are encouraged to state their political opinions in writing to the union leadership without in any way indicating a party preference...
...financial support is given for every child up to the age of 16...
...According to the new law, every oldage pensioner received 1,000 kronor a year...
...Farm laborers are organized in a labor union belonging to the Central Federation of Swedish Trade Unions, which is affiliated with the Social Democrats...
...The gains of the Opposition parties were for the most part due to their promises of drastic tax cuts, modern housing and other social reforms should they win power...
...Besides the Social Democratic party, the four other parties that make up Sweden's fairly stable political spectrum participated in the election...
...Loans totaling 760 million kronor, 225 million of it interest-free, have been approved for the construction of new housing...
...Various types of child aid cost the state 560 million kronor a year...
...The Swedish Communists, who are still 100-per-cent Stalinists, round out the Opposition...
...Perhaps the greatest of the Social Democratic achievements has been the elimination, through a systematic emergency program, of the unemployment which had racked Sweden before 1932...
...Anyone who has lived in Sweden in these last decades must report that it has been peacefully transformed into a social state...
...The 1956 Government outlay for pensions amounts to 2.2 billion kronor, and the number of persons receiving some sort of pension is 860,000 in a population of about 7 million...
...The prevailing work-week of 48 hours is to be reduced to 45 in the next few years...
...Also of tremendous importance was the reform of old-age pensions...
...During the last term of Parliament, a law was passed guaranteeing an uninterrupted vacation of three weeks...
...Sweden's lower house of Parliament is chosen by direct election...
...Of these, 710,000 are receiving old-age payments, 130,000 are disabled, and some 20,000 are widows...
...All these measures have produced more or less satisfactory results, and it is instructive that, except for the interest hike, all were opposed by the Opposition parties...
...The collective affiliation of Swedish trade unions with the Labor party was also discussed during the campaign...
...This was assured by the results of the September 16 elections to the lower house of Parliament, which saw the Social Democrats capture 106 of the chamber's 231 seats...
...The employer can break that into two periods only by agreement with the employe...
...this was particularly evident in the recent election...
...The great pension reform was enacted in 1946 and went into effect two years later...
...The monetary contribution was originally set at 260 kronor a year...
...Two years ago, in another significant reform, universal health insurance was introduced in Sweden...
...by and large, been carried out...
...A statement by the writer L. 0. Johansson at the party's May Day celebration was in the same spirit: "There can be only a united Sweden in which people feel like good neighbors, in work and in relations with one another, with responsibility for their acts...
...This is chiefly attributable to the fact that the Social Democrats concentrated almost all their fire during the election campaign on the bourgeois parties...
...No less than 95 per cent of all residential building is financed with the aid of state loans, and the various forms of aid amount to 200 million kronor annually...
...The balancing of the national budget with a surplus, instead of being praised, was sharply attacked by the bourgeois parties and used as an argument against the Government's tax policy...
...The Communist party won 194,017 votes, a gain of 29,823, and increased its Parliamentary representation by one to a total of 6. During the campaign, the Social Democratic chairman, Prime Minister Tage Erlander, emphasized cooperation among all parties for the well-being of the country...
...Conflicts between the Social Democrats and the bourgeois parties, which naturally arise frequently and sometimes take bitter forms, have been tolerantly discussed and resolved in Parliament, by special commissions and in the press...
...There are no longer any differences on this question between the Social Democrats and the bourgeois parties...
...Most striking was the major advance of the Conservative party...
...These gains were scored largely at the expense of the Agrarians, who received 366,567 votes and 19 seats, for a loss of 39,616 votes and 7 seats...
...For married couples of that age, the amount is 3,360, and for needy cases a supplementary housing allotment is provided which often covers the entire rent...
...In Sweden, a 42-hour week would roughly correspond to the American 40-hour week, since in Sweden holidays and vacations last longer...
...State and communal funds earmarked for housing amount to a billion kronor...
...A vital, happy Sweden will unite everyone...
...Today, almost half do...
...They attacked the Government for the inflationary tendencies of Swedish foreign exchange, high taxes, the housing shortage, insufficient pensions, and overly close relations with the Soviet Union...
...Some 125,000 families with two or more children are currently receiving special aid to cover their rent...
...The Social Democratic Labor party, in power since 1932, gets a new mandate for its welfare-state policies Sweden's Middle Way Continues By Paul Olberg Stockholm Next year, the Swedish Social Democratic Labor party will celebrate its 25th anniversary as the chief ruling party of the nation...
...Forty years ago, the pension amounted to a niggardly 6 kronor (one krona = 19.3 cents) per month...
...The People's party maintained its 58 seats, with a popular vote of 923,551 for a net loss of 1,268...
...The coalition parties, i.e., the Social Democrats and Agrarians, have lost a total of 11 seats, but they retained a majority of the votes and seats...
...But they provided little substantiation of their charges...
...The Opposition, however, vehemently attacked the financial, economic, social and foreign policies of the Social Democratic regime...

Vol. 39 • October 1956 • No. 43


 
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