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The Stockholm Trial
Alan AtKisson, 9 Oct 06

The world has paid semi-shocked attention to the recent change in government here in Sweden, as the center-right "Alliance" coalition came storming in with a promise not to rock the welfare-state boat too much. Why has Sweden changed horses when we currently have 5.6% GDP growth etc.? Mostly because of hidden unemployment: one in four young people can't find a job, despite the growth.

But the Alliance government led by Fredrik Reinfeldt has already surprised the electorate by committing to go through with Stockholm's congestion tax. The referendum on the "Stockholm Trial" passed in the city, but not in the suburbs. Reinfeldt's government has confounded its right-leaning suburban supporters by deciding to put the tax back into effect early next year ... but with a twist. The money will go to complete the Stockholm ring-road, a big highway by-pass that has been stuck in political gridlock for years.

Politically, this leaves everyone scratching their heads. The ring-road is popular with the right, but unpopular with environmentalists (because it involves bulldozing through natural areas). The congestion tax is the opposite. So everybody wins something and loses something in this first public compromise of the new administration. The government says the toll will end when the road is paid for; but don't hold your breath on that. And of course, once the tax is back in effect cleaning the air here, you won't have to.

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Thanks for the update on this.

Posted by: Michael G. Richard on 9 Oct 06



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