Sweden’s center-left government was long pleased to allow state epidemiologist Anders Tegenel to make it the public face of the country’s specific approach to dealing with the Kovid-19 epidemic.
But as the second wave strikes Sweden, which opposed the formal lockdown, much harder than its Nordic neighbors – contrary to the predictions made by Mr. Teganel in spring and summer – so the government in Stockholm stirred into action. Have given.
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven announced two weeks ago what he called the most intrusive measures in “modern times” in banning public ceremonies of more than eight people. That night, Mr Tegenel told Swedish radio that it was not his public health agency to “put our foot down”, and that the ban was less comprehensive than suggested by the Prime Minister.
So on Sunday, Mr. Lofven gave only the fourth television address to the country by a prime minister, warning that the situation was likely to worsen before it could get better and to let Swords know where there were non-essential meetings. To cancel it, “cancel, postpone”.
“It’s a mess now, it’s a real mess. This is a mess because it is unclear who is actually calling the shots. It is clear that there is a divide between the government and the public health agency, ”said Nicholas Aylot, Associate Professor of Political Science at Sodhorn University.
Marja Lemnae, a political scientist who previously worked in the Swedish state for 50 years, said: “There is some kind of crisis. You do not have to be a doctor to see that the strategy has not been very successful. There are signs of schism. I would not say that there is definitely one. “
According to health officials, the backdrop of the debate is a sharp rise in cases, hospitals and deaths in Sweden, which are unlikely to peak for another three weeks. Sweden has reported more than 397 kovid deaths from Norway or Finland in the last nine days – with about half the population each – announced during the entire epidemic.
Such data prompted the normally cautious and measured state broadcaster SVT to declare that Sweden’s strategy was looking to escalate like a “failure”.
Both Messrs. Tagnell and Lofven deny that there is any rift between the public health agency and the government. In response to a question by the Financial Times, Mr. Teganell said that there was a natural division of labor, with the public health agency advancing voluntary recommendations, while the government issued legal restrictions for restaurants and public ceremonies. “There is definitely no division or any new strategy. He said that there is complete confidence from both sides.
Mr Löfven told the Swedish newspaper Expresson: “There are no cracks. I imagine that it can sometimes be tempting in the media to portray conflicts. But there is no one here. Officials point out that the government regularly presents bills or rules with Kovid-19 during an epidemic.
Nevertheless, questions are arising over differences between Sweden’s policies and those adopted in the rest of Europe – not only in the absence of a formal lockdown, but in Sweden’s failure to recommend wearing face masks outside hospitals and On the reasons for this as well. Not to establish quarantine on passengers returning from abroad or on children whose parents were infected.
“The government is well aware that Sweden is increasingly seen as eccentric internationally,” Mr Aylott said. He said, ‘The government is jumping on whether its decision to completely hand over the Public Health Agency is sensible. Sweden looks like a limb. “
The Swedish Constitution grants independent bodies public health agency as great powers, an unusual system of governance that Mr. Löfven is eager to uphold. But Ms. Lemane said that in 50 years she had “never before seen the government fully give it to an agency”.
However, it is unclear whether the government can achieve much by playing a more central role in the fight against coronoviruses. “The problem with the Swedish government is that it has no ownership. It is very difficult now for Lofven. “
A poll this week for the newspaper Dagens Nyther showed 42 percent of people had generally strong confidence in Swedish authorities, down 13 percentage points in one month. Support for both the Public Health Agency and Mr. Teganell also fell, but was over 59 percent and 65 percent, respectively.
“You have to believe that when the situation worsens the trust in all the different types of officers will fall,” Mr. Tegnel said. “We do not see any kind of open opposition in many countries in Europe.”
Ms Lemane said it was unclear how things would develop. “the division [between the government and the public health agency] May appear to grow up, or it can fly. However, it said that “if it continues, it is dangerous for democracy and public confidence in government and agencies”.