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Ex-Swedish P.M. Mocks Bernie Sanders’s Past Praise of Soviet Union

Sweden’s former Foreign Minister Carl Bildt at a joint news conference in the headquarters of the foreign ministry in Baghdad, June 23, 2012. (Karim Kadim/Reuters)

Former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt mocked Senator Bernie Sanders’s (D., Vt.) past praise of the Soviet Union in a Monday morning tweet.

Bildt, who was Sweden’s prime minister from 1991 to 1994 as the leader of the moderate party, cited a 1988 speech in which Sanders and his wife, having recently returned from the Soviet Union, celebrated the then-crumbling state’s public-transportation system and government-backed cultural programs.

Sanders often cites Sweden as an example of a mature, Western democracy that has successfully married a number of government-backed safety-net programs to a free-market economy.

“I think we should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden, and Norway, and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people,” Sanders said during a 2016 presidential debate against Hillary Clinton.

While Sweden has embraced certain policies included in Sanders’s 2016 platform, including tuition-free higher education and universal health care, it does not have a government-mandated minimum wage and utilizes a voucher program to provide parents total control over the kind of school their child attends.

Sanders’s commitment to progressive policy has helped shape the Democratic agenda: Nearly every 2020 presidential hopeful within the party has embraced some form of Medicare for All, a $15 minimum wage, and tuition-free higher education. While Sanders must now differentiate himself from fellow Democrats touting policies akin to his, his early fundraising numbers indicate he still enjoys widespread support on the grassroots left. He raised nearly $6 million from more than 225,000 donors in the first 24 hours after announcing his run last Tuesday.

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