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The beginning of the end of Scandinavian socialism?

By Jorn K. Baltzersen
web posted February 11, 2002

It was the morning of September 11, 2001 (Central European Daylight Time). In Norway Election Night was just over. On the day before the Norwegian electorate had kicked out the socialist majority in Parliament. The Labor Party had just had its worst election since 1927. The sun was shining. It was a beautiful day in more ways than one, until the afternoon came and the beauty came to an end by that terrible assault on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

I am, as I am certain a lot of my fellow Norwegians and Europeans are, ashamed of my fellow Norwegians and Europeans who have attacked the United States with words in the aftermath of this horrible event. The United States sent their men to Europe to fight back axis powers during World War II. A lot of Americans gave their lives to set Europe free. Moreover, the United States placed their men and women in Europe during the Cold War to protect Western Europe against the threat of the evil empire of the Soviet Union. We owe the United States of America an awful lot of gratitude. The least we can do is to support the United States fully when they and their people are attacked. I have great sympathy for those Americans who have lost friends and loved ones in the September 11 act of war. Also, I am sorry that liberties are being encroached upon as a result of the September 11 attacks.

As time went by I was eventually able to feel the delight of the electoral victory. Although the election result was not as good as several opinion polls had predicted (Opinion polls predicted the Conservative Party as the largest party in Parliament, a position lost by the Conservative Party to the Labor Party in 1927, and held by the Labor Party ever since), the election went well. Ever since 1935 the Labor Party has been in office, only interrupted by 15 years in total, of which the two longest interruptions were 4-6 years, about 10 years apart. We now have the most non-socialist Parliament in decades. We hopefully stand before a major rollback of the system decades of Labor Party misrule has created.

After the change of Parliament and Cabinet in Norway in October came the shift in Denmark in November. For the first time since 1929 there is a right majority in the Danish Parliament. The new Danish Cabinet started off well by reducing the number of Cabinet members from 21 to 18. Moreover, shut down of more than 100 government bodies has already been announced. The change in Denmark gives one more right-leaning country in the socialist dominated European Union.

Norway, as Denmark and Sweden, is an excessive welfare state. Norway can justly be called the land where Santa Claus comes to town every single night of the year. Bruce Bawer reported on Norway in Cato Policy Report May/June 2001, in which he wrote 'You almost expect to see a sign at Oslo's Gardermoen Airport reading "Welcome to Norway-A Law for Every Occasion"'.

The supporters of our collectivist nanny state claim the moral high ground. Supporters of tax cuts, less statism, and more power and responsibility to individuals are decried as selfish and materialist. Of course, this is completely wrong. The statist supporters of our collectivist socialist state have the moral low ground.

We can see from the election results that the Norwegian mentality towards statism and collectivism seems to be changing. With the political changes in Denmark and Norway there has been a significant change in Scandinavia. We are now waiting for the Swedes to oust their socialists from office. We stand before a great task of reducing statism and collectivism in Scandinavia, and of rebuilding individual liberty and responsibility and civil society. However, the Scandinavian mentality and system will not change over night. Scandinavians have after all been brought up with collectivist thinking through decades, and the current Norwegian Cabinet does have members who Americans would rightly label 'liberals'.

Let's hope that what we have seen recently, and are seeing, is the beginning of the end of Scandinavian socialism, or at least the beginning of the beginning of the end. Let's also hope that the right turn in the United States will affect more European electorates to turn away from socialism.

Jorn K. Baltzersen is a Norwegian conservative. This is his first contribution to Enter Stage Right.

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