Second letter from Stockholm 

Raymond Mujuni

Sweden, where I’m writing this from, is often referred to – in political economy circles - as the perfect country. It is a seamless welfare state that offers free education and health and provides a wide social safety net for workers. 
It is built as a constitutional monarchy with a king that holds only ceremonial roles. The legislature pretty much moves the burse and respects a sort of federalized municipality system. It’s a pretty complex system of governance with a cocktail of governance systems. 

The state in Sweden is probably the strongest in the world on the basis of harmonized legitimacy. In Sweden, more than 50 percent of incomes go to taxes – the highest of any country in the world. In return the citizens receive a rich basket of social services that ranges from free education at virtually all levels. 

In contemporary governance debates, the assumption is that high taxation levels lead to low innovation and low wages – and yet, Sweden still has the highest percentage number of business professionals across fields in Europe and also keeps its millionaires – and billionaires. One of the most famous of its billionaire philanthropists is the Nobel family which dishes out the cash of the Nobel prizes. 
It’s isn’t an all perfect state – there are far right groups with extreme views on migration, global politics etc but it is a model example of what many states aim to achieve. 
Even on measures like road safety, crime rates Sweden ranks high.
 
To live here, they way I’ve been for a fortnight now, is to live in constant question of how to create this welfare state with a recognition of political and cultural differences. 
There’s a famous debate in which the former attorney general of Kenya Githu Muigai faces off with the former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga. In the debate, the two intellectual luminaries haggle about the extent to which law can shape and model societies. Githu points out, rightly so, that there are limits to what law can do in shaping societies. That often times, societies are shaped by culture, interplay, the political depth of leaders and sometimes, societies are shaped by events, calamity, exogenous factors well out of their control, luck, circumstance and all. 

So why does luck favor the Swedes? It isn’t a question I have answers to? 
Is it that Sweden’s neighbors; Finland, Denmark, Norway are of equal growth and development? Of shared history?

What tamed the Viking age from its expansionary violent colonization to create this land of diverse yet mutually agreeable polities? What is the glue holding it together thus far? 
These aren’t easy questions to answer but definitely the study of Swedish society – with a keen focus on culture, the law, economics and politics is something of a welcome addition to the global debate on welfare societies. 
 

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