Thus, Sweden remains an anomaly in democratic Europe. In an era of grudging acceptance of Reaganomics and Thatcherism, at a time when even the Socialist governments of France and Spain are following austere policies that reduce spending, ease restrictions on business and allow high unemployment, Sweden continues to follow its own way. It is a heavily taxed society protected by what is probably the most extensive welfare system in any democratic country.
Yet Swedes do not want to give up a single aspect of the system. In his last day of campaigning in the Goteborg area, [Olof Palme] rushed to the defense of a program that provides the aged with coupons that pay for 80% of their taxi fares. This was the kind of program, Palme insisted, probably correctly, that the opposition would have to eliminate if it reduced taxes and public spending. Palme, in contrast, promised that the elderly would keep their taxi coupons.
An overwhelming majority of the Swedish voters obviously like their system. One reason may be their dependence on it. In a recent study, Hans Zetterberg, a sociologist who heads the Swedish Institute of Public Opinion, concluded that more than half of Sweden's 6.4 million voters were dependent on the welfare state for their main source of income.