Scandinavian social democracy

Scandinavian social democracy

#GS-02 Governance and Polity

For Prelims:

Which are the Scandinavian countries:

  • Scandinavia is a subregion in Northern Europe, which is also known as the Nordic region due to the ethnic Nords who are considered as the original inhabitants of the region.
  • Scandinavia includes Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland, along with the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Åland.
  • As per the Human Development Index Norway is ranked second (0.961), Iceland stands at fourth (0.959) Denmark at sixth (0.948), Sweden at seventh (0.947) and Finland at 11 (0.940).

For Mains

What is Democratic Socialism?

  • Democratic Socialism is completely different from the socialism practiced in the erstwhile communist countries, which had a heavy preponderance of the state in not just the ownership of the major means of production but also in political life with a one-party system drawing its ideological basis for rule on behalf of the working class.
  • Democratic socialism instead focuses on retaining the functioning of market economies, while emphasising redistribution of wealth and a greater preponderance for the state in this process.
  • They aim to achieve socialist goals of redistribution and restructuring of formal democratic and liberal institutions in vastly unequal and elite driven systems.
  • The regimes in Latin America led by ruling parties in Venezuela, Bolivia and recently in Chile, can be termed “democratic socialist”.

What happens in Scandinavian countries:

Scandinavian countries practice social democracy.

Scandinavian Social Democracy have the following features;
  • reliance on representative and participatory democratic institutions where separation of powers is ensured;
  • a comprehensive social welfare schema with emphasis on publicly provided social services and investment in childcare, education and research among others, that are funded by progressive taxation;
  • presence of strong labour market institutions with active labour unions and employer associations which allow for significant collective bargaining etc;
  • labour and environmentalist movements in civil society is thriving;
  • even right-wing organisations support the welfarist model.
  • All these countries also follow a capitalist model of development, allowing for entrepreneurism and funding of welfare policies through a large degree of wage taxation in relation to corporate taxes.


Features of Socialism in Scandinavia
  • Education is free in all the Nordic States;
  • health care is free in Denmark and Finland and partially free in Norway, Sweden and Iceland;
  • workers get several benefits — from unemployment insurance to old age pensions, besides effective child care.
  • Therefore, labour participation rates in these countries are among the highest in the world (even among women).
  • Among the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, Iceland (90.7% of the workforce), Denmark (67%), Sweden (65.2%), Finland (58.8%) and Norway (50.4%) have the highest proportion of the workforce belonging to trade unions.