The ”Swedish Model”
The Social Democrats were responsible for the establishment of the so called ”swedish model” for the welfare state, which relies on high taxes to provide funds for widespread benefits. These include a National Healthcare System, parental leave so that parents can stay home with newly born children for up to one year at close to full salary, and generous sick-leave compensation.
In recent years, the Social Democrats have been criticised for hospital ques, dental care reform, failing to tackle stubborn unemployment, and for maintaining the monopolies for pharmacies and retail sales of alcohol (except for beer under 2.5%). Recently the government has come under fire for its slow response to the Asian tsunami, which took the lives of 543 Swedes.
Half of the ministers in Prime Minister Göran Persson’s government are women, and gender equality is an important principle for the party. Political pundits say one of Göran Persson’s strongest rivals, and possible successor when he steps down as party leader, is Margot Wallström, Vice President of the European Commission.
The killings of Prime Minister Olof Palme on February 28, 1986 and Foreign Minister Anna Lindh on September 10, 2003 traumatized the nation, and deprived the party of two of its most charismatic leaders.