How can right-wing countries also be progressive? Look to the Nordics. With the political pendulum having swung to the right since the 90s, Scandinavian countries are reinventing their model of capitalism as they see fit. This pragmatic (rather than philosophical) swing is anchored in their innovating and futurist-bend paired with their tradition of good governance across the political spectrum. Having reached the limits of the big government state, the Nordics seek to innovate transnationally in a time of global economic isolationism.
How? For one, they have been open and flexible to find solutions to common federal challenges; transforming their tax-and-spend structure to be open to alternate ways to get the job done, the Danes and Norwegians have private firms managing public hospitals. Swedes have established a universal ‘school voucher’ system, allowing private schools to compete with public ones, along with greater transparency regarding measured performances of schools and hospitals (granting access to official records). They also make better use of technology with taxes that can be paid via SMS. Balancing this privatization, Nordics have established state-led competitiveness for jobs, employing 30% of their workforce in the public sector. Accepting the consequences of being a stout free-trader (Sweden allowed Saab to fall into bankruptcy and Volvo is now owned by China’s Geely), the country doesn’t turn a blind eye to the local victims of globalization. Denmark has created ‘flexicurity,’ a pro-active labour market policy that provides support and training for the unemployed.
Nordics have the discipline and temperament to reform through a series of educated gestures. While smaller territories can often fall behind the leading giants in innovation as they take giant steps into the future, this is a prime example of adaptability and agility of the small when faced with the need to expand, globalize and all the while, retain diversity. With the will to modernize their more socialist foundations, Scandinavian countries have managed to see past the dividing boundaries of the welfare state and the market economy, integrating what works from each to create a custom, dynamic and incredibly-functional whole.