Tuesday, December 06, 2005

"Too few politicians quit" - Persson

"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.

Swedish PM slams French government over riots

Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson has criticised the way the French government has handled the unrest in the country. "They have chosen a confrontational route and it is hard to see how it will become a dialogue," he said. Persson reserved his strongest criticism for France's interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy. "It's clear that if you resort to emergency legislation then it's naturally very dramatic, the like of which I haven't seen in Europe in the last 30-40 years. It feels like a very hard and confrontational approach." Persson also rejected the idea of more local police as a "first step" in Sweden. "It could be a method that works, but I don't believe that's the way we would choose in Sweden. For us it is about working on the opportunities for education. To start sending out signals about strengthening the police is to break with the political line we have chosen to follow," he said.

Sweden: Shots fired at police station

A police station in Södertälje, near Stockholm, was hit by around fifteen shots from an automatic weapon on Sunday night, following a major confrontation between local youths and police. Apart from police staff, two civilian women were in the police station. They were being questioned about a reported harrassment earlier in the day, which had been the background to the rioting. The women had called the police and reported that they had been harrassed in the shop where they work. Police refused to reveal details of their allegations, because questioning had been broken off by the gunfire, but three young men who had been identified by the women were suspected of making illegal threats. The three men were released in the evening, but the arrests had provoked strong reactions among 20-35 other youths in the area. The group advanced on the police and attacked them with stones.

Is Swedish Democracy Collapsing?

This article in the newspaper Expressen about Prime Minister Göran Persson's visit to Malmö during May Day is brimming with sarcasm, presenting him as a modern Swedish version of clueless Marie Antoinette:

Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson, surrounded by a dozen body guards, took part in the May Day demonstrations in the city of Malmö. "It is a splendid celebration, a manifestation of freedom and security", Persson says. Meanwhile, a couple of blocks from there, a handicapped man is beaten to the ground by a group of thugs. The victim was about to demonstrate under the slogan "Welfare is most important". Now he is kicked in the face and the chest. When two of the assailants are finally taken into police custody, the man is terrified and suffering from severe pains. "This is one of Sweden's finest meeting places," says the Prime Minister as he enters the platform after listening to Socialist anthem The Internationale. "In a Malmö I love. Sweden's face to the world." Persson doesn't notice that the police are taking action against a neo-Nazi counterdemonstration nearby. "Open to the winds of the world lies my fair country," says Persson. "There is no greater freedom than security. A society with clean air, clean water and safe people, open to the world.". It's 3.3o pm and a police patrol is cutting down a doll resembling a politician being hanged, carrying a photo of Malmö's Mayor Ilmar Reepalu. The Prime Minister has just promised improved dental care for young people, and concludes: "Look up! The fabulous fact is that the sun is breaking through." The police and the fire department get an alarm. The Örtagård school in Rosengård, an area of Malmö with close to 100 % Muslim immigrants, is burning yet again. Several police patrols are called out. But Prime Minister Persson has already been escorted by special security police into his bulletproof Volvo, on his way back to the Cabinet's private jet and out of Malmö.


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