Posts Tagged ‘Stefan Löfven’

Swedish Prime Minister to Saudi Arabia to mend fences ( but does not take Foreign Minister Wallström with him)

October 20, 2016

saudi-arabia-sweden

The Swedish Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven is visiting Saudi Arabia over the weekend with a couple of business leaders to try and recover some of ground lost by Swedish businesses in Saudi Arabia. Needless to say, the Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström does not seem to be accompanying him.

She, of course, was the one who soured relations with Saudi Arabia to such an extent that Swedish industry is not happy. There are many stories of  business opportunities lost because of Wallströms “holier than thou” diplomacy. It was in early 2015 that Margot Wallström and the left green coalition made a great display of their moral superiority and caused some diplomatic consternation. They called Saudi Arabia nasty, very undiplomatic names (all true but not how a Foreign Minister is expected to behave), saw to it that a defence agreement was cancelled and recognised Palestine. The Saudis recalled their Ambassador, banned Margot Wallström from giving a speech to the Arab League, denied visas to Swedes and made life difficult for Swedish firms doing business in Saudi Arabia. Eventually the King of Sweden sent a letter carried by Björn von Sydow to Saudi in March 2015 apologising for Wallström and managed – monarch to monarch – to cool down some of the Saudi anger.

Left/Green sanctimony is causing a debacle for Swedish foreign policy

But the Greens and the left of the Social Democrats forgot that they were actually in government and were not just an irresponsible lobby group like Greenpeace or the WWF indulging in publicity pranks.  They were so mesmerised by the idea of showing off their moral credentials that the intention to terminate the defense agreement was announced in a great blaze of self-righteous publicity.  The Prime Minister Stefan Löfven (an old trade unionist with a good understanding of the importance of jobs) actually wanted to extend the agreement. But he was over-ruled by his far left and the Greens. His Foreign Minister, Margot Wallström (who, unlike the Greens, is old enough to know better), was more obsessed with demonstrating how Swedish foreign policy was feminist and green and occupied the moral high ground than in promoting Swedish interests and values. And so she forgot about her duties as a Foreign Minister and sharply criticised Saudi Arabia in most undiplomatic language. It verges on incompetence that the consequences of her statements were not analysed.

On this trip Löfven will be accompanied by Marcus Wallenberg of Investor, and Maria Rankka from the Swedish Chamber of Commerce.

I don’t expect that Löfven will bring up the funding emanating from Saudi sources for IS in particular or for Sunni extremists in other places.


 

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A Deputy PM who isn’t (if you are in Sweden and the deputy is a “green”)

July 19, 2015

The Swedish Social Democrats were forced to bring the Environmental Party into government to cobble together a majority in parliament with external support from the Left Party (rebranded communists). The leader of the Greens, Åsa Romson, was given the title of “Deputy Prime Minister” but it has now been revealed that in the agreement between the Social Democrats and the Greens, the position was entirely titular. Fortunately the Social Democrats were sane enough and responsible enough not to allow the possibility of a Green Deputy PM actually stepping in to replace the PM when he was abroad or ill. That would be more frightening than nuclear weapons with a rogue state.

This agreement came to light this week when the PM, Stefan Löfven, was taken ill – just for a few hours – on his return from a trip abroad. Though he has not named any particular person to fill his empty shoes, it is usually the Foreign Minister, Margot Wallström, also a Social Democrat, who steps in.

Opposition parties have been quick to take pot-shots. “Unconstitutional”, said some of them, “to have a deputy who wasn’t”.

All good fun, but there is a serious point. The Greens are not seen, even by their partners in government, as being responsible enough to be allowed to take the reins. And that is the reality. The 6 Green Party Ministers in this government have, in my perception, amply demonstrated their inexperience which borders on the incompetent. They are a destructive force, primarily concerned with stopping actions from others,  but have few constructive ideas of their own. They raise barriers when others want to “do” but “do” very little themselves.

Dagens Nyheter: The Green Party spokesperson Åsa Romson’s is Deputy Prime Minister – but will still not act as replacement for Stefan Löfven (S). Instead, it is Margot Wallström, who has that role in government.

According to information provided to DN the Social Democrat leaders did  not want to give Romson the responsibility to lead the country in a crisis.

“Stefan Löfven has not appointed a deputy. Since no specific proxy has been appointed the role is taken by the longest serving Minister” says Hans Dahlgren (S), State Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office.

In the red-green government, Foreign Minister, Margot Wallström is the longest serving minister. Therefore she has, whenever available, led most of the cabinet meetings that have taken place since last autumn whenever Stefan Löfven has been abroad or absent for other reasons.

…….. when the Social Democrats and the Green Party negotiated for government posts last autumn, the parties agreed that Åsa Romsons title as Deputy Prime Minister was merely titular.

“We made no demands about getting an operational deputy post when we negotiated to enter government. It was more important for us to have clear responsibilities and cooperation in government”, says Åsa Romson.

The issue came to a head on Thursday when Stefan Löfven after a trip to Ethiopia suffered acute nausea and was taken by ambulance from the airport to the Karolinska University Hospital. But it took more than a day for the Prime Minister to answer DN’s questions on the matter.

The Green Party is based on agitation when in opposition. In government they flop about like fish on dry land.

Left/Green sanctimony is causing a debacle for Swedish foreign policy

March 19, 2015

The 2005 defence cooperation agreement between Sweden and Saudi Arabia was renewed in 2010 and was coming up for a natural termination or a mutual renewal again this year. Currently there is very little being done under this agreement. It could have been allowed to die quietly. But that was not loud enough and self-righteous enough for the Greens and the left of the ruling Social Democrats.

The Greens are new to government (and it shows in many areas) but they are implacably opposed to Sweden having any defense industry of any kind. The Greens and the left are utterly opposed to the “anti-feminist and anti-democratic” nature of Saudi Arabia. But the Greens and the left of the Social Democrats forgot that they were actually in government and were not just an irresponsible lobby group like Greenpeace or the WWF indulging in publicity pranks.  They were so mesmerised by the idea of showing off their moral credentials that the intention to terminate the defense agreement was announced in a great blaze of self-righteous publicity.  The Prime Minister Stefan Löfven (an old trade unionist with a good understanding of the importance of jobs) actually wanted to extend the agreement. But he was over-ruled by his far left and the Greens. His Foreign Minister, Margot Wallström (who, unlike the Greens, is old enough to know better), was more obsessed with demonstrating how Swedish foreign policy was feminist and green and occupied the moral high ground than in promoting Swedish interests and values. And so she forgot about her duties as a Foreign Minister and sharply criticised Saudi Arabia in most undiplomatic language. It verges on incompetence that the consequences of her statements were not analysed. She received a swift diplomatic “punch on the nose” when she was barred from speaking to the Arab League.

But the Greens and the left (and the Swedish media – who are all very politically correct and morally upstanding) basked in the warmth of their own sanctimonious self-indulgence. If they thought they were promoting Swedish values, they seem to have failed spectacularly. Instead they have fuelled the opposing views from the region about Swedish moral degeneracy and decadence.

But now the whole affair is becoming a foreign policy debacle. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have called their ambassadors home. Fifty seven other nations have backed Saudi Arabia in criticising Margot Wallström for “denigrating Saudi Arabia’s social norms, judicial institutions and political institutions”. Swedes are not being issued visas for Saudi Arabia any longer.

Sweden is left floundering with a foreign policy being made by children and governed by childishness. A policy built on trying to demonstrate a self-proclaimed moral superiority and which talks down to others smacks of the playground. It diminishes Sweden. Business will suffer and jobs will suffer. And it will take a long time to repair the damage. Right now almost the entire Islamic world has taken umbrage and Sweden’s voice has never been as irrelevant in the region.

(Soon after the left/green government took over they had recognised Palestine as a State – also to demonstrate their moral superiority. Needless to say Israel was not amused and they are not the flavour of the month with Netanyahu. And he is going to be around for a long time yet).

But the Greens and far left are still basking in their moral superiority and don’t even realise that they have done something very silly. That they have managed to earn the contempt of both Israel and the Arab World  – simultaneously – seems to be of little consequence.

Swedish Radio:

Saudi Arabia has informed the Foreign Ministry that they will not issue any new business visas to Swedes. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that they received notice about this and say they will continue trying to resolve the issue bilaterally.

Companies that are in procurement or planning projects will not be able to send employees to the country. 

The Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven had just received the information and said, “We do not want this situation with Saudi Arabia. We have been clear all the time that we want a good relationship with Saudi Arabia and we work seriously and systematically with it”.

Swedish Industry Minister Mikael Damberg also believe that the news is negative. “It is clear that this not good and we are working both to normalize relations with Saudi Arabia and to make sure that it does not spread to more countries. We are very careful to emphasize that what the government did was not to extend a military Terms of Collaboration with Saudi Arabia. And there was a very strong political majority in parliament not to extend”, says Mikael Damberg.

Tonight, the Minister and the Foreign Minister, Margot Wallström will meet with executives from Swedish industry regarding Sweden’s relations with Saudi Arabia. “I will talk about what the government is doing but also to listen to those companies that are active in the region to see if they have encountered a problem and if there are misunderstandings so that we can help each other” says Mikael Damberg.

On being asked what actions the government would take, he said “We are working very hard to normalize relations with Saudi Arabia. Both through diplomatic contacts here in Stockholm but also in place in Riyadh and in countries in the region. The work is intense.. We are also working together with Swedish companies in place in these markets. We take note that this has happened but we have no interest to implement some kind of retaliation or to escalate this”, says Mikael Damberg.

Both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have called their ambassadors home from Sweden. The reason is because of the statements made by Foreign Minister Margot Wallström about Saudi Arabia in connection with the Swedish government cancelling a controversial trade agreement.

At the same time 57 states have closed ranks behind Saudi Arabia in their criticism of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Margot Wallström. This means that almost the entire Muslim world is critical of Wallström’s statements.

“In its opinion Wallström has humiliated Saudi Arabia and its social norms, legal systems and political institutions,” says a statement on the website of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (IOC).

 

Swedish extra election to be called off as major parties do a deal to oppress the minority

December 27, 2014

The low farce continues.

UPDATE: It seems that all the political parties except the Left Party (new Communists)  and the Sweden Democrats are agreed on changing the rules to allow the “large minorities” to suppress the “small minorities” and prevent them from taking advantage of tied situations where their positions can give a majority one way or the other. It is all geared to de-fang the Sweden Democrats.

The problem for democracy is that no matter how undesirable the Sweden Democrats are – and they are fairly vile – they are the third largest party in parliament. Effectively the two largest parties are colluding to oppress the third. The Swedish Democrats will probably introduce a motion of no confidence in the government. But the right-of-centre parties in the Alliance will probably abdicate their responsibilities as an opposition and abstain. While I may welcome the neutralisation of the Sweden Democrats, it is being done by institutionalising the suppression of undesirable minorities. The 13% of the electorate who voted for the Sweden Democrats – misguided as they are – are being disenfranchised.

It’s the right result but it is – I think – the wrong way to have done it. The Prime Minister should have allowed the Speaker to ask for a new round of government formation, ditched the Left and the Greens and made a deal with the Moderate Party or the Alliance Parties, on the condition that he remained as Prime Minister.


Swedish Radio is reporting that the extra election threatened to be called by the end of the month by the Swedish Prime Minister will now not be called. The election was threatened because the ruling Red/Green coalition (a minority government) lost the parliamentary vote on their budget.

Now it seems that the major parties have done a deal to change parliamentary voting rules to allow a minority government to govern by preventing all the opposition parties to indulge in tactical voting and supporting other non-governmental minorities to vote down the minority government.

I was half expecting this but was hoping to see the formation of a new coalition where the destructive nature of the Environmental Party would have been eliminated.

It sounds to me as if things are being set up so that the large minorities can suppress and oppress the smaller minorities. There is a certain deficit of democracy that is evident in trying to protect the “establishment”.

A pity on two counts:

  1. I was looking forward to the first woman Prime Minister of Sweden, and
  2. I was looking to the incompetence of the Environmental Party (Greens) being removed from government

Swedish Radio:

There will be no extra election in March, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven is expected to announce at a press briefing at 10:30 today.

The Government has accepted the Alliance’s earlier proposal for a change of rules rules to reign in the minority, according to sources.

Stefan Löfven stays and Alliance budget will apply in 2015, but the government will be allowed to propose some adjustments.

New elections were supposed to be announced this coming Tuesday and held in late March.

Sweden Democrat’s deputy speaker sufficiently emboldened to show his xenophobic colours

December 15, 2014

The Sweden Democrats have been emboldened by the current political turbulence – more akin to a low farce – to speak out much more openly about their core agenda. The Sweden Democrats are a far-right, anti-immigrant, anti-immigration, xenophobic party with its roots in the neo-Nazi world. They have quite successfully managed to keep this agenda hidden under a cloak of pseudo-nationalism and have managed to get into a “balance of power” position. They are the 3rd largest party in the Swedish parliament and have even managed to get a member into the position of Deputy Speaker.

Of course it is the current situation where an extra election has been called which means that even the Deputy Speaker in a sitting Parliament is now focused on electioneering. And the current turbulence is due in no small part to the incompetence of the Red/Green coalition coalition government in putting forward a budget which could not be passed. They put together an extreme, leftist budget which gave the Sweden Democrats the wonderful opportunity to defeat it in parliament. SD members all over the country are both energised and emboldened. Yesterday another party member argued that water-boarding was not, in fact, torture and was perfectly acceptable as an interrogation technique.

Of course the Sweden Democrats are being opportunistic, but it was the farcical situation generated by Stefan Löfven and his Green partners which gave them the opportunity. Moreover the “rehabilitated”, somewhat cleaner image of the Sweden Democrats is primarily due to their personable leader, Jimmy Åkesson. But he is off sick due to stress and many of the Sweden Democrat “cowboys” have had no restraining influence to keep them in order.

There is one area however where the Sweden Democrats have put their finger on the pulse of the problem not just in Sweden but all over Europe. A society can be multi-ethnic but it cannot be multi-cultural. The treatment of “multi-culturism” as a god has been a major blunder. A new culture has to and does evolve if allowed and encouraged to. There is little doubt that most European countries have put too little effort in getting their immigrants to adapt to their new surroundings and instead have encouraged them to develop their own separate enclaves. Preserving cultures from other times and other spaces has been prioritised over encouraging the new culture to evolve. A fear of being labelled racist has led to many types of immigrant behaviour, which are incompatible with the new society, being permitted and preserved. As in Rotherham.

Where the Sweden Democrats go completely wrong is in thinking that a predominant culture can be frozen into a past image and can avoid evolution as necessary immigration occurs. And Björn Söder even though he is Deputy Speaker, has already started electioneering. In his latest interview with Dagens Nyheter he brings his xenophobic views into the open and has managed to bring both his own position and Parliament as a whole into disrepute. Some extracts follow:

Reduced immigration is just one of several means for SD to reach its main objectives: to reshape Sweden in to a more nationalistic country. Sami people, Kurds and Jews can live in Sweden – but they are not Swedes, according to SD’s party secretary Björn Söder. He wants to pay immigrants to leave the country: “It would be great with a repatriation grant.” …..

Who is it that does not fit in to SD’s vision of Sweden?

– We stand for an inclusive society, so anyone who wants to fit. We have an open Swedishness which also includes people with roots abroad. But one must adapt to the Swedish and be assimilated to become Swedish.

Do you have to be a nationalist to be part of the Sweden you want to see?

– Absolutely not. I certainly have a lot in common with a liberal who grew up in Sweden – although we have different political views. But we have a unity, we celebrate the same festivals and also has some basic values in common, that the belief in democracy and the rights of women. Therefore, we have a sense of community.

The Swedes who have multiple identities, then? You say that we have people from “other nations” living in Sweden.

– Yes. There are, for example, people belonging to the Sami or the Jewish nation in Sweden.

Can one not be both a Jew and Swedish, at the same time?

– I think most of Jewish origin that have become Swedes leave their Jewish identity. But if they do not do it need not be a problem. One must distinguish between citizenship and nationhood. They can still be Swedish citizens and live in Sweden. Samer and Jews have lived in Sweden for a long time.

The comedian Soran Ismail used to say that he is 100 percent Swedish and 100 percent Kurds. Can not it be so?

– I do not think you can, to belong to two nations that way. However, Kurds could be Swedish citizens. The problem is if there will be too many in Sweden who belong to other nations.

This summer, you shared an article from the SD newspaper Samtiden on your Facebook page. “Swedes in the minority in Malmö,” read the headline. The article wrote that people of foreign origin – at least one parent born abroad – were more than 50 percent of the population in Malmö. You also wrote that in your FB post: “Swedes are now in the minority in Sweden’s third largest city.” Do you mean that everyone with a foreign-born mother or father is not Swedish?

– Wasn’t it that  Swedes were in the minority in the age group under 18?

No, I do not think so [I check later and the article is about all the people of Malmö].

– Anyway many living in Malmo are not Swedish, they are representatives of other nations. Not least, the Arab nation.

Which country is the “Arab nation”?

– No, there’s no country of that name. Arabs coming from several states. It is in any case desirable that a States’ geographical boundaries should coincide with the spread of its people.

It sounds like the argument Putin uses when he activates the Russian minorities in Ukraine, Estonia and Latvia.

– The problem there is that the Soviet Union placed great Russian nations in the Baltic States, it was a strategy of taking over. It is an imperial, chauvinistic nationalism that has nothing to to do with SD’s ideology 

If many residents of Malmö are not a part of the national community that you and your party want to build – what do you do with them?

– They must adapt and become a part of the Swedish nation. We have an open Swedishness, an individual can become Swedish regardless of background. But it requires that they be assimilated. And the problem with Malmö is that we have brought in too many. If very many from other nations live together in Sweden, it creates foreign enclaves in Sweden.

When I listen to you, it sounds as if all who come from an Arab country are alike. But the people of Malmö I know are very different among themselves, even those whose families originated from the same country.

– Sure, it might be so. You and I are also different from each other. But some fundamental value elements unite us. We both grew up in Sweden and it has shaped us. If you have a different cultural background there are other values that unite.

Malmo is multicultural and much of the city’s identity lies in that it is an immigrant city. Those who grow up in Malmö today speak a different dialect of Skånska than those who grew up here a few decades ago. More like Zlatan. They grow up in an environment where different cultures mixed together. Is that bad?

– I think many of them will lose their identities eventually. They will ask: what country do I belong to? It becomes an identity-less society. And obviously there is a problem in Malmo because the economy is so lousy. The rest of the country must prop up Malmo with fiscal equalization. If Malmö had been so good its problems would not have been so great and so obvious.

Söder is rather simplistic and superficial in his views. But he does have a point. The future of Europe is irrevocably multi-ethnic (and that is a comment only on ancestry). But the multi-ethnic Europe has to develop a new, vibrant, inclusive culture and that can neither be the old culture nor a multitude of separated cultures. You have as many societies as you have distinct cultures. It has to be one, new culture which assimilates the best part of the contributing cultures.

Farce continues as trade unions force the Swedish Social Democrats to dump the Greens

December 11, 2014

Just a week ago the Swedish Social Democratic Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven, lost a budget vote in parliament. The whole process was one of low farce. The budget was one his party and their Green (Environment Party) partners in government and supported by the far Left party had put forward. After the loss he announced that he would call an “extra” election as soon as it was permitted on 29th December and to be held on 22nd March 2015. He was quite belligerent and adamant that the joint budget with the Greens (the one defeated) was the very best for Sweden and that they would go to the hustings on the basis of the joint budget. The Greens were quite happy to ride his coattails for it gave them an exposure and a position at the High Table that they could never otherwise have commanded.

In the next day or two it became pretty obvious that it was the Social Democrats shift far to the left with the Greens and the Left party which effectively blocked any possible cooperation with parties further on the right. But Löfven was not prepared to give up his new found friends on the left. Even though it meant that his government was now required to administer the opposition’s alternate budget which had won in parliament until the new elections. Effectively income tax levels would continue throughout 2015 at the levels of the opposition’s budget. Even some expenditure items would have to remain static for the best part of 2015. He kept repeating the self-contradictory mantra that his party would contest the elections as a separate party but on the basis of the joint budget with the Greens. His propping up of the Greens and his obsession with the goodness of his Red/Green budget was becoming untenable.

Many voices within the Social Democrats pointed out the inconsistencies of this position but he stuck to his partnership. But the final straw came when the head of the Landsorganisation (representing the trade unions of Sweden) came out publicly  with the advice to abandon the Greens and fight the election on their own strengths – not least because any coalition agreements could only be negotiated later if they were not encumbered by the Greens and the Left party.

Dagens Nyheter(1):

Stefan Löfven should go to elections without the Green Party. So says a deeply concerned LO chairman Karl-Petter Thorwaldsson.

“Sweden is in a dangerous position, we are no longer seen as a politically stable country, we risk investment and jobs. The image of Sweden as stable, pragmatic and growth-friendly gave us investment and more jobs”, says LO’s chairman. He now sees this threatened on several fronts.

Mainly because of the parliamentary mess. But also because of the Green Party’s influence,  which he has criticized strongly several times in recent months. Among other things their requirements for nuclear decommissioning, the decision to close Bromma airport and postpone the Stockholm Bypass.

The Social Democrats ignore the trade unions at their peril. And Löfven has now been forced to back down and throw the Greens under the bus. But his contortions to keep his position today in touch with his position a week ago are also a little farcical.

Dagens Nyheter (2):

On Thursday the LO boss Karl-Petter Thorwaldsson put it plainly to DN: “Stefan Löfven should throw MP overboard and go to the polls alone”.

So on Thursday Löfven gave a number of bizarre answers. On the one hand, he had intended to do just that (dump the Greens) all the time – even though his press conference with Gustav Fridolin last week clearly showed that this cooperation was firm and fixed. “We like thecooperation we have and we have a very strong budget,” said Löfven.

Dagens Nyheter is scathing:

  • The Social Democrats are going to go to the polls alone, 
  • but together with the MP (Green Party),
  • with a budget that does not apply anymore
  • but which will anyway form the basis for future policy.

The show goes on. At least farces and pantomimes are quite suited to the festive season.

Low farce as Stefan Löfven gives up – will call a new election on 29th December

December 3, 2014

It has been another busy day in the Swedish parliament and for the political commentators. The 2-month old Red/Green government’s budget (supported by the communistic far Left) was defeated in Parliament. The alternative budget presented by the right-leaning Alliance of opposition parties, was also supported – going against past practice – by the far-right Sweden Democrats, and prevailed. We now have the very odd situation of a Red/Green government now having to administer the opposition’s budget which comes into force on 1st January 2015. It has been a spectacular failure by the Red/Green government after just 2 months in power.

Stefan Löfven, the Prime Minister, could have just resigned and let the speaker try to get a government cobbled together which could manage to get a budget passed. Strictly he could not call a new election since it has been less than 3 months since this parliament first met. Those 3 months are up on December 29th.

Many political commentators called this the most dramatic happening in Swedish politics since 1958! But I thought there was more of low farce than of high drama in the proceedings today. Everybody had announced how they were going to vote yesterday. There was 6 hours of meaningless debate in parliament before the vote.  Each speaker tried to avoid blame. CYA of the lowest order! Löfven called a press conference and lashed out like a very sore loser. He blamed everybody else and then announced that he would be calling a new election on December 29th to be then held on 22nd March next year. He comes from the trade union movement and has had a reputation as a good negotiator in industrial disputes. But his wage negotiation skills were not up to political negotiations. He has moved too far, too fast to the left in appeasing the Greens and the far Left party. So much so that he misjudged his strengths and weaknesses completely. He provided the Sweden Democrats an irresistible opportunity to become the centre of attraction in bringing him down. In fact he also managed with his lurch to the left to alienate the Alliance so much that it became impossible for them to rescue him (even if they had wanted to) from the quagmire of his own making.

So today he threw his hands up in the air and announced he was giving up and that he would call a new election – when he could – and ask the electorate to take the call on his budget. It strikes me that this is not just giving up. It is also a tacit acknowledgement of misjudgements and a lack of competence in managing the process of getting his budget passed.

Maybe he is hoping that before the new election is actually called 26 days from now, that the Alliance or just the Moderate Party (2nd largest party in parliament) will somehow find a way of saving his face by offering him some form of cooperation. Maybe his public announcement that he would campaign together with the Greens is just negotiating tactics. Arithmetically the only way for a majority to form is if the Social Democrats cooperate with the Alliance or just the Moderates. It is highly unlikely that the Moderate Party will just abandon its allies. The chances for the Alliance to form a Grand Coalition with the Social Democrats is extremely small and will extract a heavy price. The Social Democrats would have to dump the Greens and the far Left. That price may be too heavy for the Social Democrats

But I can speculate that if the Social Democrats have the long term in mind and are prepared to dump the Greens and the far-Left, Löfven could retain the post of Prime Minister in a Grand Coalition with the Alliance. They would command a very stable parliamentary majority which could manage to keep the Sweden Democrats completely marginalised. But some of the key portfolios – such as Finance, Defence and Foreign Affairs – would have to go to the Alliance. It may not be politically possible for this crop of politicians, but it could be the best possible thing for the country.

But unless some such cooperation is finalised within the next 26 days, the Swedish parliamentarians would have failed the electorate. And just going back to the electorate may produce the same result and solve nothing.

Getting confusing – Sweden’s Social Democrats are not the Sweden Democrats – or are they?

April 17, 2013

In Sweden the Sweden Democrats is a  (relatively) new anti-immigrant party with neo-nazi and skinhead roots which is growing in support and has managed to win seats in Parliament. Apart from being anti-immigrant and of blaming all problems in any area on immigration their Parliamentarians have mainly distinguished themselves by regularly getting involved in scandals (old-fashioned hooliganism and drug and alcohol abuse) and subsequently resigning.

Sweden’s Social Democrats on the other hand was founded in 1889, has its roots in the labour movement and was till 2003 the dominant party of Government through the 20th century. It is the party of Tage Erlander and Olof Palme and the largest party in the country and can be credited for most of the social advances made in Sweden. For a left-leaning party they have been remarkable in being very pragmatic and supportive of private manufacturing industry. It is currently in opposition but ought – in the normal course of affairs – to return to power in the 2014 elections.

Unless they can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Right now they seem to be keen on showing the world all their dirty washing and looking for ways to lose the next election.

It is still a party where party decisions are made in back rooms (no longer smoke-filled) by the few who exert the real political power. Within the party it is old fashioned power politics which matter and there is little trace of any real democracy. Lately the twists and turns over getting rid of Mona Sahlin as leader, appointing Håkan Juholt in a coup and then replacing him after a media campaign with Stefan Löfven, indicates that the internal antagonists have been well matched with the advantage shifting between the right/left and the left/left wings of the party. (All the factions are left of centre of course but the field is wide)!

But during the last week the party has shown itself as being particularly inept and the “dirt” from the battle for power has manifested itself as seeming to be racist and anti-immigrant! They appointed an immigrant to their governing board and then the internal fight began and the unfortunate Omar Mustafa was forced to resign less than a week later. But the double whammy for the Social Democrats is that in addition to their dirty washing becoming visible they now look exactly like the party they love to hate – the covertly racist and overtly anti-immigrant Swedish Democrats!

(If I were to be very cynical it could even seem that the Social Democrats are trying to win some of the anti-immigrant vote back from the Sweden Democrats).

 The LocalEmbattled Social Democrat Omar Mustafa, who also chairs Sweden’s Islamic Association (Islamiska förbundet), resigned from all his duties with the party on Saturday night, bowing to calls from within the party that he leave the governing board.

“The party leadership believes that having a mandate within the party and within Muslim civil society is incompatible. The party leadership’s view isn’t only regrettable, it’s also a frightening signal to Muslims and other Social Democrats who are people of faith,” he wrote in an open letter. 

“I therefore feel that the party leadership doesn’t have confidence in me and have forced me to resign from all my duties in the party.”

Mustafa, 28, was chosen to sit on the governing board of the left-of-centre opposition party at last weekend’s party congress. Mustafa’s announcement came following a Saturday night crisis meeting among Social Democrats in Stockholm who had previously lobbied to have him included in the party’s governing board.

“Knowing what we know now and considering how events unfolded, the situation became unsustainable. I therefore urged him to resign,” Veronica Palm, chair of the Social Democrats in Stockholm, told TT.  Palm explained that she and her colleagues had nominated Mustafa to the Social Democrats’ governing board because he’d “done a good job” for the party in Stockholm.

The Local continues in its next article:

.. Demonstrator Malika Moor has supported the Social Democrats for 36 years, but said she wouldn’t vote for the party today.

“I don’t understand why it’s come to this. It might be because his name is Omar, because he’s an immigrant, or a Muslim. I really want the Social Democrats to explain this to us,” she told TT.

Meanwhile, 29 active Social Democrats signed an open letter published on Tuesday in the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper taking issue with the party’s management of the situation.

According to the authors, it’s unacceptable that someone elected at a party congress should be forced to resign due to unfounded criticism from party colleagues and media hype.

They demand the party leadership distance itself from the accusations directed toward Mustafa and express their confidence in him. The authors also want those who published the unfounded accusations to apologize.

“We state with sorrow and anger that Mustafa was forced to leave the party’s governing board,” they wrote.


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