Here is a tiny bit of Swedish history for you. Sweden’s perhaps most famous king, Gustav II Adolf, (or Gustavus Adolphus in English) ruled Sweden from 1611-1632, years that were mostly wars against Sweden’s neighbours.
Here is a tiny bit of Swedish history for you. Sweden’s perhaps most famous king, Gustav II Adolf, (or Gustavus Adolphus in English) ruled Sweden from 1611-1632, years that were mostly wars against Sweden’s neighbours. He was the main military fighter for Protestantism (introduced in Sweden by his granddad Gustav Vasa, as a way of getting all the church’s cash and govern its priests) and led the Protestant side in the Thirty Year’s War (1618-1648). Without him, perhaps Protestantism would have been killed.
And he didn’t do this alone, but with the help of his great friend, Axel Oxenstierna. Oxenstierna is our most famous bureaucrat ever, and took care of the country while Gustav was out fighting and inventing military strategy (such as light artillery that followed the soldiers very flexibly).
Adolphus died in 1632, and Oxenstierna ruled the country while Adolphus’ kid was too young. In 1634, Oxenstierna wrote a new constitution for Sweden, in which the government would be ruled by ministries led by experts, far from the king/queen and their whims. And it was quite effective. Sweden had a very small population sharing a large area, but yet the armies it managed to throw against its neighbours were big enough for win after win, until Russia, Denmark, Poland and a bunch of Germans got together and crushed us in the early 18th century. (Fun fact that I had no idea of before: the Swedish army was very religious compared to those of other countries. The soldiers really feared going to hell! Like a modern amanita.)
And we still have independent ministries. The politicians can change the laws. But a minister can’t call their own ministry and interfere in details. You could say that it’s a bit of an exception from democracy, which is still democratic, as politicians can still change the laws and let courts do the fire. And, of course, the government can simply remove bureaucrats they don’t like. But that seldom happens.
For example, the police has to follow the police laws, and make their own priorities. The politicians can’t come and say “let’s spend more money on burglaries and less on drug control”. They would have to rewrite the laws somehow. An agency has to follow its own budget, which is decided by the parliament. The government can’t come and say “keep using the old budget, we’ll get you the money any day now”. The Swedish system is supposed to keep corruption out – you can’t just call “your” minister and ask for something – it all has to go trough the ministry’s regular meetings, which are more open than the brain of a politician. On the other hand, maybe we get another kind of corruption: dinners between politicians and bureaucrats get more important, for the latter to keep and get good jobs.
Anyway, when it comes to epidemics, we have a health agency, and they have since many years employed a ”government epidemiologist” – Anders Tegnell – whose job it is to decide what Sweden should do during a pandemic. He used to be in Africa, fighting Ebola, which has given him lots of information what to do right now (as well as during earlier, less scary, pandemics). So this is why Sweden is still functioning, kids go to school, bars sell beer etc. Because he is afraid that if Sweden would stop working, then it’d sooner or later make us not able to treat the sick, not just people with Corona, but people suffering from whatever people suffer from.
This has created tons of articles. ”Why is Sweden doing it like this?” etc. And now you know! And I have to admit that I’m a little bit proud of it, for some reason. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s just fun to read about your own country in the news. Or maybe it just sounds great to be able to sit down in the heat and have a beer (well, it’s snowing right now, but you get it). It’s too early to give him/Sweden right or wrong. Which he admits himself, in the kind of honesty that only a hard-to-fire bureaucrat can give. We’ll see in the future!
And what else did I do today? I made hummus in the morning and black bean stew in the afternoon.