1976 all over again?

I can’t help but wonder.

1976 was the first time in post-war history when the Social Democrats were defeated in a national Swedish election. The center-right governments that followed managed to keep Olof Palme in opposition for six years. But they failed in many other respects. Yes, they did prove that the nation could indeed be ruled by someone else which actually was far from certain in the minds of many. But the coalitions fell apart and Sweden saw no less than four non-socialist governments during this period. Most notably the center-right parties failed to set a new course. True, they did inherit a collapsing economy but they in essence delivered more of the same big government, big spending politics of Palme.

In 1991 the center-right regained power. With an economy in turmoil and without a majority in the Riksdag they still had the clout to set a new course and give Sweden the new start they had promised. The voters punished them for economic hardships and the Bildt government was defeated in the next election but they did make a difference and today’s booming economy is a visible result.

Now, 2006. The center-right has a substantial chance of regaining power in the September 17 election. They could form a majority government and maybe, just maybe, they could be looking at a sound economy for the coming years. How would they use this opportunity? Which road would Fredrik Reinfeldt take? Has he got the courage to challenge the labor unions and big government? Or is it 1976 all over again, new faces and no vision? I wonder.

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