Regardless of what you think of American presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s politics, no-one is ever going to doubt that should he fail in his bid for the White House, he’ll have a career in business to fall back on.
The same can’t be said of many of Denmark’s elected leaders, for whom, it appears, political office isn’t so much public service as it is a life-time position.
But while the current government, which includes two university drop-outs, might leave you longing for the good old days under its predecessor and cabinet members awash in real-world lessons relevant to their portfolios, it’s worth recalling that it too had a fair share of unqualified cabinet members.
For example, how about the tax minister who was a university drop-out. Or his successor, the electrician.
Back in the early years of the previous government, a childless woman was appointed family minister. As a successful businesswoman, you’d have thought that she’d have been a shoe-in for the Commerce Ministry. Unfortunately, that portfolio was held by a former police officer.
Of course it’s entirely possible that an electrician, as someone who’s dealt with tax regulations, could have brought a load of good ideas to the office. But this wasn’t an isolated case. Cabinet assignments are routinely assigned with political convenience in mind, rather than the nation’s best interest.
Political scientists are correct to question whether the emerging new ruling class of career politicians can force themselves to make unpopular decisions.
But what we should be more concerned about is whether it is even possible for them to know which issues are the right ones at all, given their lack of connection to the world around them. Despite the health minister’s claims, working at Netto as a student and visiting nursing homes is no replacement for actually living in the real world.
The irony of Denmark’s cabinet-level farce is that out of all current ministers, the one with the most real-world business experience happens to be a former communist. Currently the commerce and growth minister, he has earned a reputation as one of parliament’s leading businessmen for the way he has run his own publishing house since 2004. Looks like there’s at least one MP who’s got something he can fall back on after the next election.