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« Tails From the Trail | Main | Final Thoughts on Baseball »

How Swede It Is

I had the pleasure of chatting with Carl Kangas of the Swedish Social Democrats this evening on the Sharf for Colorado Blog Talk Radio show. Carl is with the communications staff of the party, and is over here looking specifically at ways to leverage the Internet for direct contact with voters.

During the broadcast, I mentioned some trade figures for Colorado exports to Sweden. Here's the source. (You want to click on Export Product Profile to a Selected Market.)I also mentioned the Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom. For more basic information about the country, here's Sweden's World Fact Book entry.

After the show, I called Mr. Kangas to thank him, and we had a further discussion about the Swedish electoral system. While Sweden has public financing of campaigns, there are no actual restrictions on party fundraising, and the ruling Conservatives (one can't properly call them, "Tories") have raised about $10 million over this election cycle. To put this in perspective, Mr. Kangas noted that about $15 million would let you compete effectively as a party in national elections.

He also mentioned that Sweden has a closed primary system, so only party members choose the candidates, and that the long-ruling, now-brooding socialists, only have about 100,000 members nationwide. He said that one delegation was in Orlando, studying the use of volunteers, and the possibility of students getting college credit for pushing socialist ideas during election time. Hmmm. How novel.

We also got to discussing the differences between his party and the ruling Conservatives. Mr. Kangas noted that they had successfully positioned themselves to the middle, by appealing to workers. He also mentioned that the top marginal tax rate was probably about 45%, quite high by US standards. But then, the government consumes 56% of GDP, and the country has been able to get by with only 1.5% of GDP going to military spending. (This means that yes, Sweden has a navy, but that it's not exactly responsible for fending off pirates through the Straits of Malacca.)

Thirty minutes wasn't nearly enough time; I would have liked to ask him about differences between Sweden and the other Scandanavian countries, something about Swedish history, immigration, and the modern Swedish economy. Ah well, maybe when I do the remote from Stockholm.

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