The country of Sweden is often heralded as a socialist success story. Sweden’s history shows that the government has been moving towards socialism for quite some time now. The general consensus seems to be that this system works well for them. This blog post will explore what we can learn from Swedish socialism and compare it to other countries.
Is Sweden a Democratic Socialist country?
Sweden is described as a democratic socialist country by many analysts. A democratic socialist nation should guarantee that all citizens have access to fundamental services, and the government must be elected democratically. Sweden has a large welfare system responsible for helping many Swedish people [Source]. “Scandinavian and Nordic countries follow the “Nordic model” for the most part. Most people describe this as a kind of social democracy. They’re democratic countries committed to looking after and supporting citizens. Some economists call it “cuddly capitalism” [Source].
In 1974, Sweden changed its constitution, and the new one stated that “all public power in Sweden derives from the people” [Source], and this is a true reflection of a democratic socialist nation, and even the makeup of its parliament supports this view. Currently, Sweden is ruled by a prime minister from the Swedish Social Democratic Workers’ Party. He implemented policies legislated by his party’s ideology aligned to social democracy.
Examination of the Nordic Model can reveal how it is similar to democratic socialism. It is only a matter of different terms being used. But politicians and philosophers argue that Sweden has since moved from a purely socialist state to a hybrid system.
Socialism in Sweden
The Swedish social welfare program introduced as a socialist policy stated that “The Swedish social assistance consists of two parts – a subsistence allowance (forsorjningsstod) and financial support (bistand) for day-to-day expenses. The maintenance benefit covers the household’s fixed expenses [Source], and “other financial assistance is to cover costs that arise from time to time.”
The Swedish parliament is dominated by the Swedish Social Democratic Workers’ Party (formerly the Social Democratic Workers’ Party of Sweden), and the ruling PM is from this party.
The Swedish government oversees a lot of economic pillars responsible for production. Also, Sweden has one of the highest living standards by many people who enjoy a good livelihood.
According to Insider monkey, Sweden is number one on the most successful socialist countries list. [Source]. Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Iceland rounded out the top five.
US Capitalism vs. Swedish Socialism
Employment – According to the 2020 stats, Sweden had an employment rate of 75,5%, and the US had 67,1% [Source]. Such figures are also affected by the population in these countries as Sweden only has 10,350,000 people. The US has 331,893,745, so the US will probably have a lot of citizens who are not working plus unemployed migrants.
Elections – In 2018, Sweden recorded about 7,3 million voters who went to the polls. In the last elections, the Americans had about 158,4 million ballots. Since the US is most vocal and gets involved in global issues, its elections attract attention. The Democrats-Republicans competition is probably the biggest across the globe. Because it is a large country, the US invests a lot in its elections compared to Sweden.
Citizen Satisfaction – Sweden was ranked higher than the US regarding living standards. Sweden was on number 3, and the US was on 20 [Source], a big gap. Socialism in Sweden got it under the “best countries for quality of life” banner, suggesting that most citizens are satisfied. The US has a large population of various races, and it is challenging to take care of more than 300 million. But US capitalism had managed to maintain the social welfare in the country for long periods.
Education – As per education, in 2019, it was revealed that a substantial difference between the Swedish and the American educational system is that “In Sweden, everything is simply free. And that means that everything from tuition to writing utensils & notebooks to field trips and even the cafeteria food, is free by law”. This is done to satisfy the socialist stance propelled in Sweden. Considering the American population, the US will have to release a lot of funds to match Sweden’s style.
Crime – Sweden was described as one of the safest countries globally, but gun violence seems to have risen due to gangs [Source]. Stats of crime presented between Sweden and the US were pretty much the same [Source], with the US averaging higher by a small margin.
Why does socialism work in Europe?
Socialism emphasizes government intervention, which means the government should intervene with resources. A lot of European governments have vast resources in their territories. There must be an effective economic system to establish social welfare, which Europe has. It is one of the most affluent continents.
Wealthy individuals are usually owners of private companies. They contribute a lot of revenue to the nations, thus growing the economy. Due to this, the governments have enough funds to roll out social welfare programs. For instance, during the covid-19 lockdowns, most European nations could afford to give out stimulus checks to their citizens.
Also, Europe has a proper organization in medical facilities, schools, and services providers, so it is to channel those towards socialist initiatives. At the moment, European countries are pushing for tolerance and equal rights across the globe, so they exert a lot of effort to be exemplary to the whole world.
Europe has had great success with socialism and other models, but some argue that it’s because of the mix. A purely socialist country would be impossible to run successfully; thus, Sweden incorporated different philosophies into their society, leading to a successful system.