Arkiv för april, 2007

Europa, Hemsida »

Free movement? Not really

[30 Apr 2007 | Ingen kommentar]

In Sweden the discussion was heated about restrictions on the labour market for the new EU members in March 2004. Many of the traditional liberal voters turned away from the Liberal Party in the European elections of June 2004 wanting to punish the leadership for having advocated those restrictions of free movement. Myself, I have never been closer to leaving the Liberal party than during those weeks of intense debate. Fortunately the proposal didn’t gain support in parliament and Sweden was one of few EU contries (together with UK and Ireland) to keep their labour market open to new member states.

The EU observer reports that the Netherlands who in 2004 chose restrictions has now moved to open up its labour markets to workers from ”new” EU member states. Not all member states are following the Dutch example. The German government has agreed to extend their restrictions until 2011, despite opposition from the current economy minister Michael Glos. Why is it so hard to comply with the principles of free movement of goods, services, persons and capital?

Well, one reason is for sure that national politicians don’t have the courage to stand up against strong unions and interest groups. In the case of the German government, the economy minister Glos has to stand up even against his fellow ministers – from the Socialist party. Germany has a bad reputation when it comes to restrictions to the labour market. The German worker unions were the ones putting strong pressure on Schröder against the Directive of services, which in the end led to the directive being watered down completely.

Hemsida, Sverige »

Var är brudarna?

[24 Apr 2007 | Ingen kommentar]

Den frågan ställer sig många av oss liberaler när vi nu söker efter en ny partiledare till Folkpartiet liberalerna. Jag är inte förespråkare för kvotering på något sätt, däremot är det viktigt att lyfta fram potentiella kvinnliga kandidater, som annars lätt glöms bort i mediabruset.

Anna Lindh brukade berätta hur hon tagit med sin son till FN:s Generalförsamling. Efter ett tag vände sig pojken till Anna och frågade: ”Men mamma, när kommer alla tjejerna?”

Historien är talande för hur världen ser ut än idag. Vi ska inte göra oss någon illusion över jämställdhet, det är snarare i relation till övriga länder som vi Sverige kan sägas ha kommit långt i den frågan.

Det finns många briljanta kvinnor i Folkpartiet. Här är några exempel på kvinnliga liberaler:

Cecilia Malmström, EU-minister, Nyamko Sabuni, Integrationsminister, Birgitta Ohlsson, utrikespolitisk taleskvinna, Karin Pilsäter, ordförande Näringsutskottet, Helene Odenjung, Kommunalråd Göteborg, Lotta Edholm, Skolborgarråd Stockholm stad, Madeleine Sjöstedt, Kulturborgarråd Stockholm stad, Nina Larsson, Försvarsutskottet, Cecilia Wigström, Justitieutskottet, Karolina Hilding, Kommunalråd Uppsala, Karin Granbom, EU-nämnden, Anna Grönlund-Krantz, f.d. riksdagsledamot/partiledningen, Gulan Avci, Kommunfullmäktige Stockholms stad, Sara Svanström, ordförande Fp-Farsta, Karin Karlsbro, Kommunfullmäktige Stockholms stad.

Så för dem som undrar – visst finns det kvinnliga liberaler.

Europa, Hemsida »

Who to vote for in the French election

[22 Apr 2007 | Ingen kommentar]

The choice that French voters are facing in today’s election is not obvious. I would be puzzled myself if I had to choose among the two main candidates; Sarkozy and Royal.

To start with Sarkozy, he has important advantages; he is quite liberal when it comes to economics, and I think France needs some liberal reforms especially when it comes to labor market and taxation. Sarko favors a mini-treaty for the EU, without renewed referendum, that’s clearly better than Royals promotion of a more social Europe and a new convention for a more social constitution. Sarko favors closer ties to the US, indeed very interesting for both French and EU transatlantic relations to have a US-friendly French head of state. But then again Sarko has a lot of disadvantages, he is violently against Turkish EU membership. With him entering the Elysée palace the cornerstone of future European enlargement and thereby a revitalized Euro-turkisk economy and common security policy would be stopped by the French. Sarko also has tried to intimidate French media that dared to critisize him (according to the Swedish program ”Medierna” in P1) and his immigration and refugee policy is all but pleasent.

So what about Royal then. She is promoting a more social Europe, and I dont believe in more harmonized social policy, especially not when it is favored by a socialist. Royal has a socialist agenda with proposals such as revitalizing the 35-hours labor week, a French failure that ought to be buried and forgotten. The more positive parts of Royals policies is her mentioning of reforming the European agriculture policy (CAP) which is pretty unique for a French presidential candidate. AND even more importantly, she doesn’t seem as anti-Turkish as Sarko. There is one more reason for Royal being an interesting candidate; she would be the first woman president in one of Europes most important countries, she would thereby state an important example to millions of girls around the continent that the highest political post in France no longer is reserved for men; she would be the first Madame le Président!

With all the good and bad sides of the two main figures of the French election campaign, maybe I should be glad I don’t have to vote in France…

Hemsida, Internationellt »

Tea with Madame Mubarak

[4 Apr 2007 | Ingen kommentar]

At the moment I’m in Egypt with the diplomatic training program of the Swedish foreign ministry. Our program contains meetings with as well NGO:s and Human rights activists as with officials from the Egyptian government.

Yesterday our group of young diplomats had been invited to have tea with Madame Mubarak, the first lady of the country and wife of the Egyptian dictator (since 1981) Hosni Mubarak.

After being directed through the presidential palace by two chiefs of protocol who seemed surprisingly nervous, we were offered tea and cookies by the first lady in the presidential reception hall.

Apart from a general introduction about youth participation, tolerance and gender equality (aspiring for world record in political correctness being the wife of a brutal dictator) Mrs Mubarak was kind to answer our questions.

I took the chance to ask her about the blogger Karim Amer who was recently sentenced to four years of prison for giving political comments on his blog (the judge had been kind enough to motivate the sentence, three years of prison for insulting islam and one year for critizising president Mubarak). My question concerned the difficulty of promoting youth participation (sic!) on the one hand, and locking up young political activists on the other.

Mrs Mubarak’s answer turned into a fluffy speach about the cultural sensitivity of islam, claiming not to know anything about the specific case of Karim Amer. She also elegantly ignored the fact that one fourth of Karim’s sentence was motivated by his critique of Mubarak and apparently had nothing to do with islam.

Leaving the presidential palace after having finished our tea but left most of the presidential cookies untouched, most of us had a very awquard feeling…

…not very surprised about Madame Mubaraks empty message, but concerned about the weakening pressure of the international community and the EU when it comes to Human rights in Egypt.

Read more about the case of Karim Amer here and here.