Two Political Books

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Jan Gillberg
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Ivar Kreuger
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The former prime ministers Ingvar Carlsson (b 1933) and Carl Bildt (b 1949) have each written a book on their reflections and achievements during their ministerial years. For Carlsson the years 1986-91 and 1994-96 and for Bildt the period 1991-94. During these assembled ten years, the one who was not leading the government was leading the opposition. In his book „Så tänkte jag”, Carlsson has a lot of sensible things to say about the resons behind the successive decline of the Swedish economy since the 1970s. He explains that at an early stage he had been conscious of and felt concern that the Swedish people were not prepared for an economic set back: „ We were good at placing demands but were worse at taking responsibility.” At times, Carlsson sounds like a good conservative. The struggle for the cooperation climate of the employees‚ fund deteriorated:

 „Instead of letting the negotiating parties solve their disputes, we began making laws on employment security and the like. The employers felt forced back. In this way, the working class movement helped to undermine the model that we proudly had presented both within and outside Sweden.       Another significant change took place when the parties in the public sector took the lead when coming to an agreement instead of awaiting an agreement on the private side.”  

Insight - at least afterwards- also seems great on how not least the surrounding world changed conditions for the economic development, which provides the base for our welfare and social standards. This is what he writes in „Så tänkte jag”.
Looking back it seems clear that the party leaders of the Social Democrats have, for far too long, tried to maintain something which was already lost. The inability of seeing reality in the eye presumably had a negative effect on our ability to adapt and develop politics to the demands of a new time.
Imagine if this had been clear to Ingvar Carlsson when he was Prime Minister. How different things could have developed.
In his book „Uppdrag Europa”, Carl Bildt devotes much less, in fact a fleeting space to the important problem of the country, which he, as Prime Minister, took over in the autumn of 1991. He has already, as the title of the book implies, dispersed of the description of that part of his task as Prime Minister.
Both as Prime Minister and then even more as leader of the opposition, he usually chose to be in another place than in Sweden - if not always physically at least in his mind. He was, first of all, Foreign Minister for his own government with the ambition, in the shadow of Helmut Kohl, of playing a historical role in the top-level political game. When he later became leader of the opposition, this was more or less taken care of at a distance through Internet.