Thursday, April 29, 2010

The shame of living in a monarchy

People have a variety of opinions of Nicolas Sarkozy, and I am not one of his supporters. The fuzz in the media about his wedding with Carla Bruní were stupid and annoying, but if you don't like Sarkozy, his marriage is hardly your business. If you live in Sweden, things are more complicated.

The thing is that up here we live with an antiquated institution called monarchy. Our
king Carl XVI Gustav, a man for whom I have never had the chance to vote and who did nothing to earn his position is the official head of my state.

He is doing that all right, I guess. After all, it is not his own fault that he is the king, and he has commited only minor stupidities. I hold no illusions that I, or anyone else, would make a better king. There are also some good historical reasons for monarchy - a brief look at the world shows that the worst despots are almost always presidents, and monarchies are usually peaceful and democratic countries.

I used to regard the monarchy as a non-issue, but this summer the crown princess is getting married, and that has brought the problems with monarchy to light. Suddenly the royalties are not only annoyingly smiling family on TV - they  are actually my heads of state.

Aftonbladet expects the wedding to cost more than 64 M SEK. 14 M SEK swill be paied directly with taxpayers money The costs include among other things the accomodation of prominent wedding guests - which puts us in a dilemma. Either the princess is a free human being who invites her friends to her own wedding. If this is paied for with public funds it is plain corruption. Or she treats her wedding as an affair of state, and invites guests whose presence will somehow benefit Sweden. Then she is practically a slave, whose personal life belongs to the Swedish state.

Additionally the great church in Stockholm has been renovated, for about 14 M SEK. One could be happy about that, after all the church is a national treasure, and the renovation will benefit Stockholmers and tourists for years. But one could also despair that in a parliamentary democracy that even has a minstry of culture, it is the personal life ms. Victoria Bernadotte that decides when our public churches are renovated. Presume that she didn't want to get married? When would these 14 M SEK be spent?  We have the same dilemma here - either we are paying for Victoria Bernadotte's personal wedding, or she is a life-time employee without union rights and vacations.

It is not at all about the money - a Swedish business publication calculate that local businesses in Stockholm will see sales boosted with 30 M SEK, even though a thoughtful reader will ask why our taxmoney are used to boost their sales. The expenses for our monarchy are pure waste, but they are just a fraction of the state budget, and therefore neglectable.

The real problem is the mixing of private and public responsibilities and obligations. Wereas it is very clear that Sarkozy is on his job when he talks in TV, and living his private life when he gets married. As a French citizens, you can demand him to act responsible when at work, monitor his work, and punish him when he fails to do so. It is very unclear when royalties are "at work" and when they are not, and it is therefore hard to demand any meaningful responsibility from them. Presumably royalties are presenting us, and that gives me as "employer" a responsibility over their entire lives. Do we want that? is that how we think of work, or how we think of people?

The tragedy of it all is that nothing of this is new, the same arguments were in use 100 or 200 years ago. But the reasons that made most countries choose republicanism then, are the same today.

The media coverage of Sarkozy's wedding may have been akin to the endless stupdities in Swedish TV right now. But at least his political opponents money were not used for paying his wedding. He is a president when he is at work, but he can take holidays, and even quite whenever he likes. Victoria has no such freedom. Her private life is my business, since she is representing me. I am sure it feels as humiliating for her as it does for me.


radical royalist said...

Levfe Konungen!!

Maladets! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maladets! said...

Befria konungen! ;)

mili8951 said...
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