Democracy, tolerance, and multilateralism are a tougher sell than ethnonationalism and prejudice, he says, but the fate of humanity is hanging in the balance.
Featuring Stefan Löfven
October 19, 2022
39 minutes and 25 seconds
During his seven years leading Sweden’s government from 2014 to 2021, Stefan Löfven had a front row seat to observe the rise of right-wing and neo-fascist political parties both at home and around Europe. A former welder, and union leader from working class roots, Löfven earned the nickname “the escape artist” during his years as prime minister for his knack for holding together governments despite his country’s increasingly fractious and polarized politics. But this year the Sweden Democrats—a party with its roots in fascist and white nationalist ideology—became the second leading vote-getter and were embraced as part of a ruling coalition government by other conservative and centrist parties. Löfven says the Sweden Democrats, who were once politically radioactive, are now the tail wagging the dog of Sweden’s new government. And he says the rise of far-right parties is a trend all over Europe, most recently in Italy, but also in Poland and Hungary, where they have fanned fears of economic insecurity, cultural displacement, and crime to scapegoat immigrants and offer authoritarianism as a cure-all, which has enabled them to steal followers from more mainstream parties and take power. Löfven, who is a Fall 2022 IOP Visiting Fellow at the Harvard Institute of Politics, says Europe’s democratic multilateralists are now on the back foot, trying to sell democracy and tolerance in a social-media-driven communications culture that favors the simplistic slogans and memes favored by the right. In this tumultuous era in European politics, he says only time will tell whether the rapid pace of societal change will keep driving voters into the arms of extremist parties, or whether the unpopular Russian war on Ukraine being prosecuted by the godfather of the continent’s strongmen, Vladimir Putin, will take some of the shine off authoritarianism’s allure.
Stefan Löfven grew up as foster child in a working-class family in a small town in northern Sweden. He studied social work at university and worked as a welder for a manufacturer of railcars. In 1981 he began taking an active role in the Swedish Metalworkers’ Union, ultimately become the president from 2006 to 2012. In 1973 he started a local Swedish Social Democratic Youth League club. In 2012 he became leader of the party. In the parliamentary election in September 2014 Löfven won, and his party is still the leading and largest party in Sweden. He stepped down as a prime minister in November 2021. Today, Löfven is chairman of the board of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, SIPRI, as well as chairman of the board of the Olof Palme Memorial Fund. A staunch supporter of the United Nations and multilateralism, he was appointed to lead the UN High-Level Advisory Board on Effective Multilateralism by Secretary-General António Guterres in February. He is currently a Fall 2022 IOP Visiting Fellow at the Harvard Institute of Politics.
Ralph Ranalli of the HKS Office of Public Affairs and Communications is the host, producer, and editor of HKS PolicyCast. A former journalist, public television producer, and entrepreneur, he holds an A.B. in Political Science from UCLA and an M.S. in Journalism from Columbia University.
The co-producer of PolicyCast is Susan Hughes. Design and graphics support is provided by Lydia Rosenberg, Delane Meadows, and the OCPA Design Team. Social media promotion and support is provided by Natalie Montaner and the OCPA Digital Team.
Stefan Löfven (Intro): The Sweden Democrats and all these extremist parties, they use their power. They're not there for fun, they do want to make changes in the society and changes that I am really worried about. So as an example, before even taking their seats in the parliament, the Sweden Democrats said, one of the representatives, "I don't think we need legislation against discrimination in Sweden. We should take that away because it's something temporary that a society expresses." To me that's basic in a society, that we actually have legislation that forbids discrimination. But for them, it's a problem, because they do want to discriminate against other groups of people.
Ralph Ranalli (Intro): Stefan Löfven has been a welder, a union leader, a party leader, and a prime minister. During his seven years leading Sweden’s government from 2014 to 2021, he earned the nickname “the escape artist” for his knack for holding together governments despite his country’s increasingly fractious and polarized politics. The prime minister’s seat also gave him a prime vantage point to observe the rise of right-wing and neo-fascist political parties both at home and around Europe. This year the Sweden Democrats—a party with its roots in fascist and white nationalist ideology—became the second leading vote-getter and were embraced as part of a coalition government by other conservative and centrist parties. Löfven says the Sweden Democrats, once essentially radioactive politically, are now the tail wagging the dog of Sweden’s new government. And he says it is a trend all over Europe, most recently in Italy, but also in Poland and Hungary, where right-wing parties have fanned fears of economic insecurity, cultural displacement, and crime to scapegoat immigrants and offer authoritarianism as a cure-all, which has enabled them to steal followers from more mainstream parties and take power. Löfven says Europe’s democratic multiculturalists are now on the back foot, trying to sell democracy and tolerance in a social-media-driven communications culture that favors the simplistic slogans and memes of the other side. In this tumultuous time in European politics, he says only time will tell whether the rapid pace of societal change will keep driving voters into the arms of extremist parties, or whether the unpopular Russian war on Ukraine being prosecuted by the Godfather of the continent’s strongmen, Vladimir Putin, will take some of the shine off authoritarianism’s allure. Stefan Löfven is here with us to share what he’s seen.
Ralph Ranalli: Stefan, welcome to PolicyCast.
Stefan Löfven: Thank you so much.
Ralph Ranalli: So I wanted to get to our main topic, which is the rise of right wing parties and politics in Europe, in a minute. But I was hoping you'd take me back to your time as prime minister, from 2014 to 2021. Seven years is a good long stretch. But during that time, from what I've read, it was not easy maintaining a coalition and keeping a government together. Can you talk a little bit about that time and what was going on politically and whether you saw some signs that this was starting to happen, this rise of right-wing parties and politics?
Stefan Löfven: Absolutely. We have had a right-wing extremist party in our parliament since 2010, so that was the first time they made it to the parliament. It has been a difficult time in our parliament, difficult to form a majority. And I've led minority governments also, but cooperated with other parties in the parliament, and minority government is quite usual in Sweden actually. But I could see over time that making compromises and trying to negotiate was harder and harder. So the general atmosphere, I think, in politics, has become tougher and tougher stances and shorter time to really think things through. So I've noticed it, yes. And now the conservatives in Sweden and even the Christian Democrats and one liberal party decided now, after this election, this year, to cooperate with this right-wing extremist party. It's a racist party and those three parties decided to cooperate with them, and I think that is a very, very serious development.
Ralph Ranalli: Right. And that's the Sweden Democrats party.
Stefan Löfven: Yes.
Ralph Ranalli: And they got 20.6% of the vote. The Moderate Party, which aligned with them, as the third largest party, got 19% of the vote. And your party, the Social Democrats, got over 30% of the vote, but not enough to form a majority. The Sweden Democrats have their roots in neo-Nazisism.
Stefan Löfven: Right.
Ralph Ranalli: And they've been considered an extremist party and the other parties in their coalition have said: “Well, they're part of the coalition, but they're not going to have any ministries and they're not going to be a major player in making policy.” How much do you believe that?
Stefan Löfven: Well first, if we go back to before the election 2018, all these parties said unanimously that they would not cooperate, even cooperate with this party. After the election 2018, when we formed the government, together with the Green Party, but also with cooperation with two liberal parties in the parliament. After that election something happened with the conservatives, so now it's power at any cost. The Conservative Party leader, before the election 2018, went home to see one of the survivors from the Holocaust. And he promised her, because they are worried now, they're worried about the future, what's happening in Sweden, and he promised her, looked her in her eyes and said, "I'm not going to cooperate with Sweden Democrats." Now they are fully cooperating and yes, even if they don't get seats in the government, it's a high price because the other three parties need the Sweden Democrats in the parliament. So we can already see now that important positions as chair persons and vice chair persons in different committees in the parliament, are now, to a large extent, seated by Sweden Democrats.
Ralph Ranalli: Right. And you have the example here in the United States of the Republican Party and the rise of the Trump wing of the Republican Party, where I think at the beginning the establishment Republican Party thought, okay, this is a trend, this is something we can use. And the shoe quickly went on the other foot and the tail started wagging the dog, and now you have a Republican Party that is essentially Trump's party. Do you see that as the trajectory of the coalition between the Sweden Democrats and the Conservatives?
Stefan Löfven: Well, even if it is not going to be exactly the same, and I don't know that, but for sure we know that their power, the Sweden Democrats and all these extremist powers, they use their power. They're not there for fun, they do want to make changes in the society and changes that I am really worried about. So as an example, before even taking their seats in the parliament, the Sweden Democrats said, one of the representatives, "I don't think we need a legislation against discrimination in Sweden. We should take that away because it's something temporary that a society expresses." To me that's basic in a society, that we actually have legislation that forbids discrimination. But for them it's a problem, because they do want to discriminate against other groups of people. So there we go.
Ralph Ranalli: So you come from a working class background, you were a welder, you were a trade union leader, you got involved in politics fairly young. Why did you continue on politics as a path, just personally?
Stefan Löfven: I've always been interested in politics and society, society development. I can remember still sitting beside my father, looking at the finance minister at the time ... he was explaining the budget, the income and the expenditure, and I can remember sitting there and I thought it was interesting. So I've always been interested. And when I also joined the trade union, I became a representative at the local level, and I found out that I work in the way that— if we think and we believe things are important in our society, at the workplace, and if it is important I cannot just say, "Well it's important, but I'm not going to do anything." If it is important, I have to get involved. So that is basically how, and I stayed that way for all these years.
Ralph Ranalli: So some of the analysis, I want to keep on this theme of your background as a working class person, some of the analysis of the rise of the Sweden Democrats was that they had taken rural voters from the Center Party, they had taken small business owners from the Moderate Party, but they'd also taken working class voters, which is where you come from, from the Social Democrats. What shift have you seen among working class people, just at the grassroots level, that makes them more open to the message of the Sweden Democrats?
Stefan Löfven: I believe the basic feeling is, for many people, that they feel left behind. And I know we have a similar phenomenon all over the world that, well in general, just to put it short, that globalization has meant a lot to many people, lifted millions and millions of people out of poverty, and there’s been very fast development when it comes to technology. So, the society changes faster than it used to do, and in that change, in that transition, not everybody feels that they are on board on this journey. So I think that is the most important explanation. And also over the years, we have had conservative governments, and when you have conservative governments in power, they constantly, constantly decrease, for example, in the welfare system, unemployment benefits or sick leave benefits, they tend to attack that. And when we come back into power, we, of course, want to repair that. But you can't do that just over one year, perhaps it takes a little longer because we are also very cautious about having a budget that is strong not only today, but also tomorrow and in 10 years, because that is a prerequisite for promising people something. We need strong budgets. I see the same in the United States; with Republican presidents or majority in Congress, as I understand, you have a huge budget deficit and unemployment up, whereas when you have Democrats in power, they tend to be more cautious with the money. And that is exactly why we need, if you believe in a strong society, you need that budget.
Ralph Ranalli: Right. After the 2008 financial crisis, the response to that across Europe, in a lot of places, was austerity, and austerity combined with globalization was a recipe, I think, for a lot of people being left behind and consequently feeling left behind. And you have seen that all over Europe, you've seen in Hungary with Viktor Orban, Poland with Mateusz Morawiecki, and most recently Italy with Giorgia Meloni and the Brothers of Italy Party. What are things in common between the rise of those governments in those countries, and what's happening in Sweden? And is there anything that makes Sweden unique or different?
Stefan Löfven: I would say it's the same kind of sentiment in all this, perhaps not in detail, but it is this frustration and also in combination with anger towards power in general. And there you have these parties, political leaders that have a very, very simple solution. People are looking for the fast, simple solution to things. And you can always blame, for example, people with other color coming from other countries, believing in other religions. It is easy to find scapegoats and say if they weren't here, everything would be fine. So I think that is the common determinator.
Ralph Ranalli: And I've heard you say that part of that message is a strong man who can fix everything. In one fell swoop they can just make everything alright.
Stefan Löfven: Exactly.
Ralph Ranalli: But at the same time, people who are pushing democracy or complex social solutions have a much more difficult time because their message is complex. And it seems like there are a number of trends that are working against, conveying a message of complexity, while there are trends making it much easier to convey simple messages. Of course, I'm talking about social media, which not only lends itself to simple slogans or memes or whatever you want, but it's also the algorithms that are built to respond to emotion, to give you more of what you respond emotionally to, as opposed to what you respond rationally to. How do you think that Democrats with a small D, can do a better job of explaining a more complex message, but a necessary message, than the authoritarian side who they're competing against for people's allegiance?
Stefan Löfven: I think we must be better at explaining the win-win situation you will gain from a situation where other people, other human beings, also can grow and make a better living. That it will be to your benefit as well as a human being, something in that area. I'm thinking a lot about what words can we use, because we need this clear short message that can attract people. We can't simplify difficult issues, that's not possible, but what are we looking for? We are looking for a world where you and I as human beings can support one another, and when I support you, I know that I'm better off also. I think we need to find that kind of language. So I'm also actually, I'm not actively religious, but I'm a member of the Swedish church, but I think in religion and in philosophy, I think we can find messages. For example, we already have the holy rule. The holy rule is in all major religions, expressed perhaps differently, but it's there. In India and Hinduism, they have an expression called ahimsa. And ahimsa means you are here to do something good for the world. You're here to heal, to do something as a human being. In Ubuntu, in Southern Africa, they have this expression, Ubuntu. Ubuntu means that I'm here because of you. So it's even stronger. So my mission is to do something good for you. Now if we look at all these—we have these expressions that are global—why can't we find a way also to build that into politics, to show that what we want to do, what we want to build is a society where everybody can have their vision and keep dreaming and keep working? I think we need to find something in that area.
Ralph Ranalli: That’s interesting, I wanted to go back to what you said about the opposite of that being blaming the other for your problems. And the other, I think, in the United States, as well as all over Europe these days, is immigration, migrants. Sweden had a large influx of migrants in 2015, and there was the Stockholm truck attack in 2017, that I know caused quite a bit of a stir in Sweden and five people were killed. Well, first of all, that migration issue is not going away. If anything, I think the climate crisis is going to increase it. What do you see as a potential, if not a solution, at least a way to make things better in terms of this reaction to migrants among people who are susceptible to these messages of: “I'm being displaced” or “they're coming to take my jobs and my culture,” and all these other things that authoritarian demagogues use to inflame the passions of people against immigrants?
Stefan Löfven: Yeah. That is why I strongly believe that you need to show that in people's daily life, your living or your job is not threatened. And to make that work, of course, we need an orderly immigration. So 2015 we received 163,000 in Sweden. That may not sound like much in the United States, but we are a country of 10 million people, so it was a lot. We could not let that go on, so we had to change our legislation. Still, and I want to be very, very clear on that, still respecting the right to seek refuge, that is a universal right, so we must respect that one. But we also must make sure, for example, all the people from African countries that now are taking this very dangerous journey over the Mediterranean Sea and dying there, because they want a better life. That is understandable, but we have to also make sure that the north and west can also support African countries much, much better than we do. I think Sweden is one of four countries in the world, out of 193 member states in the United Nations, we are one of four who actually contributes at least 0.7% of our GDP as a development aid. Four countries are doing that. If we had done better for years and years and years, decades, perhaps the situation would have been different. So you have to help support people where they are, to a much, much larger extent, knowing also that if we do that, those countries will develop and grow and bring more wealth to the world. It’s a win-win situation. We have now 180 million children that are exposed to child labor, they cannot go to school, half of them at the African continent. What if 80, 90 million children were allowed to go to school instead, grow as persons, contribute in their society? Their societies will improve, and we will also gain from that. That is something we need to understand and explain much, much better, it's a win-win situation to help others.
Ralph Ranalli: The right-wing parties have also shown an ability to adapt their messages. For example, I think for a while there the Sweden Democrats were advocating for a pullout from Europe or at least a part of a disengagement with the European Union. And you saw the same thing with the right-wing party in Italy. But perhaps they saw what was happening with Brexit and they decided that's not the best idea, the most palatable idea. What do you think of their ability to adapt their messages and how would you counter that?
Stefan Löfven: They are very good at it. They're very good. And that is so problematic in the situation where you mentioned earlier. Social media also, and they're very good at social media. They are better than us at using social media. So it's a strong force, with all these trolls that they use; it's an enormous power and people tend to believe that it has been written on Facebook or Twitter or whatever, and then it's the truth. So yes, they can definitely mask what they want to do, absolutely. They did it before the election 2014, the Sweden Democrats say they were against making profit in the welfare sector because it draws money from the taxpayers. After the election, they weren't against it anymore. And now they say they want to protect unemployment benefits, but when you look at their proposals, no they don't. They're very good at sending the right messages, but in many, many cases they want totally different things.
Ralph Ranalli: Right. One of the interesting things—and very unfortunate things, obviously—that I think everybody in Europe has had to adapt to is the Russian invasion of Ukraine. How does that cut for right-wing parties? It would seem to cut both ways because, on one hand, Putin is sort of the archetype of the authoritarian strong man that everybody says is going to come along and fix everything. But when you're a country like Sweden and you're on Russia's doorstep, cozying up to Putin would seem to be a fairly dangerous strategy. So what's your analysis of first, how the Russian invasion has altered politics in Sweden, but also in Europe as a greater whole? How do you think that's going to work out?
Stefan Löfven: Well it changed the situation, the political environment in Europe, totally, I would say. We have seen before the annexation of Crimea and the frozen conflicts that they're having in Georgia and in other countries, so we know that they were capable of a lot. But a full-scale invasion? And then label it as a special operation there—it's so silly—but a full-scale invasion of another country? We couldn't really see that. To be honest, the American intelligence and the UK intelligence said that. So they believed something serious was going to happen, because Russia doesn't do all this just for an exercise, but European countries tended to believe. And I also, of course, when I got this different intelligence, and I was really questioning whether what can happen.
And at the end of the day, most of us said, well that is too dangerous also for Russia because there'll be heavy sanctions, for example, and that will hurt Russia. But he did anyway. So he doesn't care for his own people. He doesn't care. He just had these big, big ambitions, being this new czar and shaping a new big country and coalition. So we were wrong. It changed the situation—as you know Finland and Sweden now are applying for membership in NATO as well—so it has changed. And I must say even in those very, very difficult times, problematic times, we still need to be able to think of how we first need to handle this together with us, all of us, supporting Ukraine? So we have an acute situation, but we need to look beyond that. How do we build trust again? How do we decrease tensions? How do we build a safer world? How do we build common security, because that's the only security that is sustainable, if I know that you are dependent on my security and I'm dependent on your security? So with all this, we need to right now actually start that discussion broadly: how do we create a safer world? We cannot go on like this in general; we have to find another path.
And these Sweden Democrats and the right-wing extremists, yes they are connected to Putin and they have had good connections. The week before the invasion, the party leader of the Sweden Democrats was asked in a TV interview, who do you prefer, Biden or Putin? He couldn't answer. Depends on, depends on. We know the Sweden Democrats have been in Moscow and dealt with them. We know that Marine Le Pen in France is also actually borrowing money from Moscow, and these parties in Italy, so we need to be aware of that, these other forces.
Ralph Ranalli: What role do you think economic inequality has played in the rise of the right wing in Europe? It seems to me that ... I know it's had an effect in the United States on pushing together this coalition of financial elites and right-wing populist demagogues, and it would seem that that's a sort of similar circumstance to what's happened in Sweden. Can you have stable democratic politics without having more economic equality, instead of the sort of extreme forms of economic inequality we're seeing right now?
Stefan Löfven: On economic equality, yes, we need that. Too wide gaps in societies create problems, create conflicts. Because in that situation, if you have people that don't really see their situation improving, they can hardly make a living; they are insecure. If I get sick or unemployed, what will happen? So everything is at stake. And in that situation, regarding others having more money than they would ever need. We have people that have the same amount of money as countries. I think the richest person in the world has something like $150 billion. I mean it's absurd, actually. And one can say, well he or she earned her money. Yes, of course, but those wide gaps create problems, conflicts in a society. So we need to make sure that everybody, I mean not only today, but to look into the future and say, "I will do reasonably well and my children will have a better life than I have." That's not the case, and so we need to see that and also again, understand that we are privileged. You and I are privileged. There's so many people that are privileged, and we would be even more privileged if others could raise their living standard.
Ralph Ranalli: Right. Now politically, what struck me lately is that these financial elites and the people who believe that there no upper limit to the accumulation of wealth, have somehow still managed to market themselves as being at the center of the linear left-right spectrum. You have the authoritarians over here and you have the left wingers over here, and somehow in the middle are these financial elites. They call themselves moderates; they call themselves centrists. Does the linear political model, where it's just a straight line from left to right, work anymore? Does that apply anymore? Do we need a different model to take into account the problem with this economic inequality? Because there are definitely forces that want to preserve the unequal status quo that's causing a lot of problems, but at the same time, they want to be the ones to be called the moderates or the centrist or the pragmatists.
Stefan Löfven: Well I believe, first, you do have people, wealthy people also doing good things. I mean that's good. And yes, right and left, that has changed and has been challenged actually for a number of years, that you have another scale also, whether you believe in globalization or not. So there are more factors perhaps we need to take into consideration, but yes, I still believe that left and right exists. Yes, obviously it does. We still have forces that do not want to build a common, secure, strong society and those who do want to do that. So I mean in Sweden still, yes, left, right exist, but perhaps you also have other layers that you have to put on that picture to make it complete. So yes, it exists, but it's more complex.
Ralph Ranalli: So there are a couple of major existential threats to humanity and the planet. Probably the premier one, the foremost one, is the climate crisis and climate change. At COP26, you said that the EU was going to cut emissions by 55% by 2030. I mean we've seen what Bolsonaro has done in Brazil, with development in the rainforests and his antipathy to measures that would preserve the climate. Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris Accords, even though Biden put the United States back in. What do you see as the danger of the rise of these right-wing governments to efforts to at least mitigate the climate crisis and to help us have a livable planet for our children?
Stefan Löfven: Yeah. Now it is dangerous, also in Sweden, again, that party denies the climate problem. They can't even see it. And then they say, "Why should we do this and that? Why should we spend money on doing that? We can spend it on other things." And it's a very, very populistic path they have taken, so of course that is dangerous. We know very well what will happen, we know very well it is a dangerous situation. If we accept an increase of heating with two or three degrees, that is extremely dangerous for us. But please at least think of our children and our grandchildren and future generations, how they're going to regard us in 100 years. We are writing history right now, we are writing tomorrow's history books and if we don't do this right, we will hand over a world that is so much in a very bad shape. The planet will handle it, the planet will handle it, the question is, can we human beings live on such a planet? So yes, they are dangerous also in that situation.
I hear the same discussion here in United States, and it's very populistic because what they say to people is, "Don't worry, you don't have to change anything." What we need to do instead is to show people that not only will we decrease emissions, we will build a better society. The society is going to be better for you, because we see now, let me give an example, steel has been produced with the same methods for 1,000 years. 1,000 years. Now a Swedish steel company started to produce steel without using coal. I have a little piece of metal at home, it says “CO2 zero,” so now we know how to produce manufactured steel without using coal. We know that we can drive electric cars. We know that even trucks can go on electricity. We know that we can change the transport system without it affecting you as an individual in a negative way, you can still have your freedom, but please drive a car with no emissions instead. And we can support you with that, we do that in Sweden, we support individuals that buys a clean car. So you can have $7,000 if you buy an electric car. So support people in doing the right thing, so you become active in going in the right direction and knowing we are building a better society and we'll hand over a world to future generations that they can live in.
Ralph Ranalli: Speaking of the future, I wanted to talk about your own future direction. You were recently appointed to lead a UN high level advisory board on effective multilateralism, and I was very intrigued by that term. Can you tell me what effective multilateralism is, in your view?
Stefan Löfven: I can start with what it's not. Seriously, we have seen, during the pandemic, for example, vaccines were developed very fast. I was promised at the time when this COVID came and broke out, and we were very, very sure that we couldn't see a vaccine for five years—perhaps five years would be very good—and we gave people the first shot after one year. So that went well. But what didn't go well was after that, the distribution. Everybody said, "Well, nobody's safe until everybody's safe." Okay, so let's get it done, let's make sure that we produce, and we transport, we make sure that the logistics work and do whatever we need to do to get vaccines all over the world, in all countries. We didn't do that. All the United States, as well as the EU made this mistake. The UK, India, everybody held onto what they had because you want to show your own people that we can do this. But once again, everybody's not safe until everybody gets their vaccine.
Ralph Ranalli: That's the lesson of the pandemic.
Stefan Löfven: So that is one example of not being efficient. What should have happened was that the EU, together with the United States, with India, with China, and other producers, should have sat down at the table and said, "Okay, how much do we need to produce? How do we get this sent to everybody, all countries all over the world, out to the smallest village? What does it take? Does it take training for people to actually give the shot?" Everything, we could have done that much, much better. We didn't do it.
But we can improve. We see that peace and security is threatened because of the invasion, so we need to do more to prevent conflicts, that is another area. When it comes to inequality, we know that the poorer countries, the least developed countries, many of them on the African continent, but there are also others. The north must do more to make sure that they have resources enough to improve their conditions. And we have a multilateral financial architecture with the World Bank, the monetary fund and regional development bank, that must work much more efficiently to make sure that those countries also can take part of the wealth that we actually have. We have not got a problem in the world where we have a problem with resources, we have a problem with distribution of resources. So that global financial architecture can also do more. So there are a number of examples where we can do better.
Ralph Ranalli: Right. Those all seem to have in common, going back to your messaging about situations that are win-win. What are your hopes that if you and others are able to effectively communicate that win-win message? What do you hope you can achieve?
Stefan Löfven: I hope that if more leaders and more people in general see that it is the right path to take and to see, well, I will also gain, I profit from this. Well of course it's easier to take the decisions that are necessary to take locally, yes, nationally, yes, globally, yes. So I think it's an important ingredient because people tend to at least act in a way that gains my own future, that will make my future brighter. And if we can get that message through, it's more likely. We're not going to end up in a perfect world, I don't think so, and I'm not naive, but I do think we need to dream. We need to dream, we need to. But not only dream, but also show it is possible. It is possible. And as President John F. Kennedy said once when he was talking about going to the moon, "We're not doing this because it's easy. We're doing this because it's hard." I think that is one of the most brilliant quotes. I think we must try to make more people see that helping one another is good for me as well.
Ralph Ranalli: Great. Well thank you very much for being here for this conversation. I really enjoyed it. And good luck.
Stefan Löfven: Thank you so much. Thank you.
Ralph Ranalli (Outro): Thanks for listening. Please join us for our next episode, when we’ll talk to Harvard Kennedy School professors Erica Chenoweth and Zoe Marks about the recent protests in Iran and their important research on the connection between authoritarianism and violence against women. If you have a comment or a question about PolicyCast, please email us at email@example.com. And until next time, remember to speak bravely, and listen generously.