Sweden Recent History Part 4

Yes for the decommissioning of nuclear power

Sweden had been hit hard by the energy crisis of 1972-73, and had therefore focused on expanding its hydro and nuclear power. But especially with regard to nuclear power, attitudes were characterized by the increasing international popular opposition to nuclear power, and the issue was sent to a referendum in 1980, when the bourgeois government itself split on the issue. The form of voting was unclear, but nonetheless a majority turned out for nuclear decommissioning, and Parliament therefore decided to follow the result and aim for a closure of the country’s 12 nuclear power plants in the period up to 2010.

After 6 years of bourgeois government, Social Democrats, with Olof Palme at the head of 1982, returned to government power. The civilians first returned in 1991. In 1986, Prime Minister Palme was shot down by an assassination, and he was replaced at the post by Ingvar Carlsson.

Ever since World War I, Sweden had been a neutral country. A position that includes enjoyed World War II, where it had an extensive trade relationship with Nazi Germany. The neutrality facade was maintained after World War II. The country vigorously supported the UN, disarmament initiatives, relaxation between developed capitalist countries and the Soviet Union, as well as support for the Third World. In 1969, the country was the first Western country to recognize North Vietnam and publicly criticize the United States for its warfare in Southeast Asia.

In the 1980s, however, deep progress was made in the progressive facade when it emerged that the arms company Bofors – which also the Swedish state was financially involved in – had illegally sold weapons to the Middle East, India, Burma (Myanmar) and Indonesia and was involved in several major bribery scandals. Swedish official policy was not to supply weapons to areas of conflict.

In the 90s after the collapse of the Eastern Bloc, it was further revealed that Swedish neutrality was a thin varnish. In the event of conflict between the USSR and the US, Sweden would stand on NATO’s side.

According to simplyyellowpages, relations with the Soviet Union deteriorated through the 1980s. Initially after fierce chases on Soviet submarines in the Swedish archipelago, and later in 1986 when the Ukrainian nuclear power plant Chernobyl burst into the air, creating extensive radiation pollution in northern Sweden. A pollution that especially affected the people and their reindeer production.

In the late 1980s, the EU’s continued enlargement sparked debate in Sweden about the relations with its main trading partners. Sweden was at that time a member of the EFTA European Free Trade Co-operation and together with the other Nordic countries had in the late 60s tried to create a Nordic common market – NORDEC. However, plans that had never been implemented, even though the cooperation through the Nordic Council had paved the way for the creation of a common labor market and a passport union. In 1990, Sweden initiated the first probes in the EC and the following year, the Carlson government officially submitted the Swedish application for admission to the EC.

1991 Civil Return on Government Power

In the September 1991 elections, the Social Democrats lost the majority and had to surrender the government to a bourgeois coalition consisting of the Moderates, the People’s Party, the Center Party and the Christian Democrats. Moderate leader Carl Bildt was appointed prime minister. The new government promised to accelerate the country’s accession to the EC and the liberalization of the economy. These years brought a number of new parties into the Swedish Parliament. In 1988, for the first time, the center-left environmentalist party was represented. The Christians entered 91 and so did the heavily right-wing and xenophobic New Democracy.

By the end of 1991, unemployment in the country reached 160,000, or 3.5% of the economically active population. It was twice as many as the year in advance and was a record in postwar Sweden. In spite of the international economic crisis, for almost 20 years, low unemployment has been maintained – in comparison with the surrounding capitalist world. In 1991-92, the crisis triggered a wave of xenophobia and attacks on “foreigners”. A situation that had hitherto been unknown in a country that, through the 60s and 70s, had been known for its liberal emigration and asylum policy.

The crisis worsened drastically in 92 as the country was exposed to international currency speculation led by international grand speculator Georges Sorros. He made billions of dollars, in Sweden the interest rate rose for more than 150% for a shorter period, and the country’s currency was drastically devalued. The bourgeois government cut deep in public budgets. The internationally famous “Swedish model” was thrown into deep crisis. In late 1993, thousands of construction workers demonstrated for the first time in 35 years of work demands. The Swedish LO chairman, Stig Malm, declared that the government’s cutback plan was a declaration of war. But because of the considerable unemployment, the trade union movement was too weak for confrontation. Bildt, in turn, received support from the Swedish employers, and his government became dependent on New Democracy.

On August 26, 1993, the king inaugurated a new parliament for the Sami people in Lapland. It consists of 60,000 people divided between Sweden (17,000), Norway (40,000), Finland and Russia. At the same time, however, the people’s conflict with the Swedish government was resolved. The conflict had arisen when the Swedish government had deprived the Sami of hunting rights in their reindeer areas.

The Swedish schools give the children from same-sex families 2 weeks off in the fall and 2 in the spring to attend respectively. the gathering and spreading of reindeer on the pastures so that they can learn this work. The Reindeer Act of 1971 had given the Sami special rights to the grazing areas and rivers they used for breeding the reindeer. Currently, the majority of Sami keep their reindeer on grass. 10% of Sami work as reindeer hunters. The population has historically been culturally, socially and economically suppressed by the Swedish state, and it was not until 1998 that the Swedish state officially apologized for centuries of oppression of the common people.

In the economic sphere, open unemployment reached 5% in the beginning of 93 and in the first half of 94 it reached 13%. Among immigrants and refugees, it reached 40% for some groups. Unemployment was particularly catastrophic for women and large families, and at the same time, the state began to relinquish its historical social responsibility in health care, kindergartens, social assistance and unemployment benefits. Still, the government deficit exceeded 13% of gross domestic product – far higher than in other European countries.

Sweden Recent History 4