Monday, October 16, 2006

Clean Hands

The new Swedish government is going through a process of intense journalistic scrutiny, and it's taking its toll: both the Minister for Trade Maria Borelius and the Minister for Culture Cecilia Stegö Chilò have been forced to resign only a week after their appointment. Neither has paid the state broadcasting fees for years, and Stegö Chilò has employed a housekeeper without paying taxes.

Borelius made the mistake of trying to defend herself: "I couldn't afford it". This would have been a silly defense in any case, since we can't have government ministers subscribing to the view that if you want something you can't afford (in this case, access to state TV channels) then you should just steal it. But Borelius is in fact an unusually affluent person, so her words were a big fat slap in the face to the average Joe.

Stegö Chilò didn't make any silly statements, but of course she had to go too. The Minister for Culture is the boss of the state broadcasting company.

Some people think these issues are negligible. But I'm really glad to be living in a country where it matters to a politician's career whether they play by the rules or not. And I'm glad to see the press really doing its job and not just reporting on reality TV.

[More blog entries about , ; , .]

Labels: ,


Blogger Hans Persson said...

That's two out of twentytwo ministers out less than one month after the election (OK, only one day less, but still). Yet another minister is under police scrutiny for not having paid the same fees.

I usually argue that the state TV should stop broadcasting stuff like docusoaps, but this one is actually rather entertaining. I wonder who gets voted out next time?

16 October, 2006 14:04  
Blogger Martin said...

It's really strange that the affluent classes are so unwilling to pay peanuts for a legally employed cleaning lady. Although I have very little money myself, I come from that sort of background, and it's simply the rule there that if you can avoid paying for something then you just don't pay. Even if it's illegal. I know all these posh ladies who share their Polish housekeepers without work permits like a friendly little secret.

I though Conservatism was about Law and Order and Capital Punishment. But I guess rich people in Sweden tend to look upon the country's laws as a distasteful product of the labour movement.

16 October, 2006 14:12  
Blogger Karen said...

That's how the rich get rich! Don't pay for anything.

16 October, 2006 14:38  
Blogger Martin said...

I suppose you're right. But, encouragingly, it seems that's not the way rich people get into the government.

16 October, 2006 15:08  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Martin that it is nice to see that things work reasonably well in Sweden. Indeed, these right wing politicians had to go and the SSU-head Anna Sjödin was convicted on all accounts despite her position.

I am very disappointed of the right wing "alliance" that they were not clever enough to ask their PR-people to do a checkup on all ministers *before* putting them on public display. I must say that this was very stupid, given the swedish mentality towards these things and the fact that most journalists are social democrats/communist.

16 October, 2006 16:32  
Blogger Martin said...

Maybe the leader of the Conservative Party knew very well what these Ministers had been up to, but was unable to find reasonable replacements with a clean record. Those Polish cleaning ladies appear to be about as common as cars in the circles we're talking about here. And it would have been impossible to get together a right-wing government without recruiting any car owners...

16 October, 2006 16:37  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If they knew, then why did they not try to pay right away *before* the media got hold of it?

What can be the case is that they erroneously expected the press to drop it after a few days if the ministers appologized publicly, but this is not a probable explaination, since they were ill prepared at appologizing as well.

I also doubt that Reinfeldt was informed about Maria Borelius indirectly owning her summer house to avoid tax.

To summarize, I think it boils down to stupidity. The same stupidity which reigns within all political parties. (I do not advocate technocracy, but sometimes it is tempting :-)

16 October, 2006 17:14  
Anonymous Tommaso said...

I'm from Italy, we lived 5 years with Berlusconi as premier, one of the lightest things he said is that "tax evasion" is natural, and that he did it.

The new governement is trying to attack tax evasion and it has to defend for trying in it (In average gold and jewel dealers declare incomes lower than primary school teacher, that have quite low salaries).

Here in Italy something like that would not create any scandal at all.

16 October, 2006 17:33  
Blogger Martin said...

Anon, most people are way too stupid and ignorant to be allowed to vote if we looked them closely first. But it's better to have several million idiots voting in various directions and cancelling each other out, than to have a single smart dictator making the decisions...

Tommaso, the corruption culture of southern Europe is legendary. But Silvio Berlusconi managed to disgust even Italian voters.

Being Swedish, I'm used to things working pretty much by the book and would find it very hard to function in such societies.

16 October, 2006 18:05  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

eXTReMe Tracker