jump to navigation

No Hawthorne effect at Hawthorne? June 9, 2009

Posted by sverrebm in Methods in political science.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

Is nothing holy? Must I throw out my introduction textbook in methods now?  The guys over at the Freakonomics blog have dug up and reexamined the original Hawthorne data and concluded that there actually was no Hawthorne effect in the original Hawthorne study! I’m disappointed right to the very core of my post-graduate student soul. What should i believe in now?

No freedom of speech in France? June 6, 2009

Posted by sverrebm in World politics.
Tags: , , , ,
1 comment so far

I can’t yet find any English sources on this, but Norwegian newspaper Aftenpostenand the Swedish Aftonbladet report of events in France that don’t belong in any democratic country.  A French blogger was reportedly arrested and charged with “public insults” after having called the French Minister of Families, Nadine Sorano a liar. “Hou la menteuse” – “O, what a liar” are said to be the exact words of 49-year-old blogger Dominique Broueilh. The newspapers claim that Sorano has also called for tighter surveillance of bloggers in general by Frenchs ISPs.

If this is true, it is nothing short of an outrage. No democracy is possible if public figures are to be protected by such strict laws. Merely being impolite can’t be a reason to clamp down on free speach. I didn’t believe a democratic Western European country like France could employ such policies…

The death of a giant June 3, 2009

Posted by sverrebm in Norwegian politics.
Tags: , , , , ,
add a comment

On May 25th a giant in Norwegian politics, passed away. Haakon Lie might not be very well known to foreginers, but he was certainly one of the most influential people in Norway in the 20th century. He was a man of many controversies, but it is hard not to respect his role in building social democracy in Norway.

haakonlieHe was party secretary of the Labour party from 1945 to 1969, a period through which the Labour party was in government for most of the time. The joint leadership between Lie and the most prominent prime minister during the period, Einar Gerhardsen has become famous in Norwegian politics both for its effectiveness in building the country and for its latter days bitter rivalry.

Lie was one of the people who rebuilt the Labour party from a party of class struggle to a broader mass party building the welfare state on a compromise between capitalism and socialism. He was one of the ideologers that formed a new kind of socialism where anti-capitalism was replaced by a modern social democratic quest for liberty for all. In domestic policy he pushed for social reforms along with his comrade in arms Gerhardsen.

In foreign and security policy he was much more controversial. He was driven by a distaste for communism whose anti-democratic tendencies he felt was a corruption of socialism.  He feared its spread and favoured NATO membership and nuclear armament. (more…)

NYT sings the praise of Norwegian economic management May 14, 2009

Posted by sverrebm in Norwegian politics, Political economy, Public Policy.
Tags: , , , , , ,
add a comment

“As a socialist, I have always said that the market can’t regulate itself,” she said. “But even I was surprised how strong the failure was.”

These are the words of Norway’s Finance Minister Kristin Halvorsen from the political party Socialist Left (SV), which is part of the current centre-left government coalition in Norway. The words come from an article in the Global Business section of The New York Times, which praises the economic management of the Norwegian state, among other things  how it has stuck with its social democratic welfare model through boom and bust.

The global financial crisis has brought low the economies of just about every country on earth. But not Norway.

With a quirky contrariness as deeply etched in the national character as the fjords carved into its rugged landscape, Norway has thrived by going its own way. When others splurged, it saved. When others sought to limit the role of government, Norway strengthened its cradle-to-grave welfare state.

And in the midst of the worst global downturn since the Depression, Norway’s economy grew last year by just under 3 percent. The government enjoys a budget surplus of 11 percent and its ledger is entirely free of debt.

The debt free government is of course something the current centre-left coalition can’t take the credit for alone. The Norwegian government has passed between Labour, centre-right and centre-left governments for the last decade.  Since 1990, there has been a broad consensus in the Norwegian parliament for a programme of  national savings in a government pension fund, to preserve value for future generations and avoid “Dutch disease“. I mentioned this policy in an earlier post on this blog.

The description of Norway as always sticking with its welfare model is another issue, though. Norway did go through a phase of privatization of welfare, for example the schooling system, during the last government, but this was abruptly stopped by the centre-left Stoltenberg administration when it came into power four years ago. Of course this didn’t necessarily affect government expenditure.

If the right wing were to come into power in the upcoming parliament elections, we might see another shift in this policy. Although supportive of the need for government stimuli to the economy, their preferred stimuli come in the form of tax cuts rather than the countercyclic government expenditures the current government favours. Last week’s conservative party congress heavily emphasized this.

(Hat tip to Tromp for bringing this to my attention).

Carl Bildt not wanted in Sri Lanka April 28, 2009

Posted by sverrebm in World politics.
Tags: , , , ,
add a comment

My last post covered the EUs new involvement in Sri Lanka. Today, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt reports on his blog that the Sri Lankan government har refused to receive him. As a consequence, only his British and French colleagues Millband and Kouchner will be coming on behalf of the EU. According to Bildt, UN representative John Holmes has expressed disappointment. He also says that it “will affect bilateral relations” and that Sweden will recall its Charge d’Affairs “for consultations”. Diplomat language for “we’re annoyed and don’t want to play with you for a while.”

No reason has been given for the refusal, but I can hardly see how it can be a positive sign for the Sri Lanka situation.

The EU goes in with force in Sri Lanka April 26, 2009

Posted by sverrebm in World politics.
Tags: , , ,
6 comments

eusrilanka

Norway’s role as peace broker in Sri Lanka seems pretty much played out after Norwegian police failed to prevent damage to the Sri Lankan embassy in Oslo on the hands of Tamil protesters. The Sri Lankan government has reputedly declared Norway unwanted in the process.

But according to Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt’s blog, he is going to Sri Lanka to try and handle the humanitarian situation – together with French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner and their British counterpart David Milliband. It’s a real show of force from EU to apply pressure on the parts of the conflict to refrain from further bloodshed. It may also be a sign that the EU is really serious about its role as a global peace broker with  a different focus than that of the US.

The Tamil Tigers (LTTE) have according to various media already asked for a cease fire, but the Sri Lankan government has rejected it, demanding a complete surrender.