The Swedes are coming. As Europe lurches to the right amid financial and climate meltdown, a horde of cool-headed Nordic warriors are riding to the rescue. Sweden’s EU presidency from 1 July will be greeted as a breath of fresh air after the Czech leadership, what with the latter’s antics on climate change and arousal chez Berlusconi. What the EU needs is a whiff of sense and reason. And who better to provide it than the social-minded, climate-conscious Swedes? Sweden still sets hearts racing across Europe. The “Swedish model” might bring up thoughts of a nubile blonde rather than a strong social state, but it is in the latter incarnation that my home country stirs the passions of left-leaning Europeans. Whatever Sweden does must be right, or so reason progressive politicians and Guardian journalists – not to mention scores of Swedes. But beyond this blue-eyed vision lurks a darker reality. Sweden’s conservative coalition government has stood still as the financial crisis has engulfed the country. Jobs, social services and healthcare are eroding. The Sweden Democrats – the equivalent of the BNP – are on the rise. The social state is failing. The Swedish dream is no more.
more from Ruben Andersson at The Guardian here.