Posts Tagged ‘Swedish Social Democratic Party’

Swedish Social Democrats implode as Juholt resigns

January 22, 2012

I have long felt that Håkan Juholt was inappropriate as the leader of the Swedish Social Democrats. But what was most disturbing  – in this time of transparency – was the opaque manner of his being “appointed and anointed” as leader of the party some 10 months ago.

But it is the party’s Executive Committee (Verkställande utskott) who come out of this debacle  as being particularly incompetent. No doubt Juholt himself was lacking in the competence and leadership qualities necessary to unite the party behind him. But it was the Executive Committee which displayed gross incompetence;  first in choosing a leader who would be constantly sniped at from within the party; secondly, incompetent in the coup-like manner in which they pulled Juholt’s name out of a hat; thirdly incompetent in not being able to discern Juholt’s lack of the leadership qualities necessary for the position; and finally incompetent in not being able to shield their “appointed” leader from the snipers and the baying media.

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Europe this week: ethics loses as Berlusconi and Juholt continue while Fox resigns

October 14, 2011

Berlusconi clings to power in Italy, while Håkan Juholt continues wallowing through his mire in Sweden and Liam Fox resigns in the UK.

Strange are the ways of politics and ethics. And even when ethics seems to win – as in the Liam Fox affair – there is a sense that the victory is superficial.

Berlusconi will probably hang on by his finger nails as Italy goes the way of Greece. Juholt has probably ensured that his party – the Social Democrats – will lose members and the next election. In the UK the full extent of the dubious antics of Liam Fox’s “best man” have yet to be revealed and David Cameron is struggling with the lack of competence in his Cabinet.

It is tempting to conclude that the common thread is that ethics and competence cannot survive together. But I refuse to believe that it is impossible to be competent or a politician without sacrificing your ethics – even if such examples are difficult to find.

Swedish Social Democrats commit suicide as they destroy their own leader

October 14, 2011

I was not much impressed by the “back-room” election of Håkan Juholt as the leader of the Swedish Social Democrats and nor have I been very impressed by his performance to date. But the current media storm over his “failings” (excessive housing and travel expense claims, vacillation on immigration and citizenship and embellishing his credentials as a young politician) is I think entirely fuelled by forces within his own party which have decided to take revenge for the manner in which they were ignored and overridden in the battle for the party leadership. The timing  and the drip feeding of all the revelations over the last week screams of an “inside job”. There are some who are now blaming the media feeding frenzy – which no doubt exists – but it was surely initiated – and perhaps orchestrated – by a few of his party “colleagues”.

But this internecine feuding will surely keep the Social Democrats out of government for a long time to come.

Irrespective of whether he will actually be found to have broken any laws or parliamentary rules, his position and that of his party has been destroyed for the next election in 2014. The prevailing perception – that will surely dominate the next election – is of a party which is supposed to represent workers, weaker members of society and the downtrodden but where the representatives are a grubby, greedy, hypocritical lot looking for every possibility of lining their own pockets. They have opened themselves up for unending attacks regarding their ethics. All social democratic politicians can now be  accused of embodying a “do as I say and not a do as I do” mentality.

Needless to say, the left-wing of the party which organised the coup which made Juholt the party leader 6 months ago are now whining and busy blaming the “neo-liberal” wing for leaking and initiating the whole affair. As one of them- Daniel Suhonen – puts it:

Maybe Juholt needs to go, maybe he deserves it. But the story of how this has happened for probably all the wrong reasons, and how the trap was sprung by the
neo-liberal, right-oriented social democrats in the county of Stockholm has yet to be revealed.

Håkan Juholt exhibits either greed or ignorance (or possibly both)

October 8, 2011

Håkan Juholt, the relatively new leader of the Swedish Social Democratic Party, is in deep trouble.

He became leader of the party following an old fashioned “coup” in March this year  – reminiscent of a Soviet style of leadership change which did not bode well for the “renewal” of the party.

S-ledaren Håkan Juholt försäkrade vid fredagsförmiddagens presskonferens att han inte avsiktligt brutit mot reglerna när det gäller hyresbidrag från riksdagen.

Håkan Juholt: FOTO SCANPIX via SvD

 

It now seems that back in 2007 he moved into his girl-friend’s apartment in Stockholm and since then has been claiming the entire rental of the apartment as his “temporary” residence in the capital. Apparently he should not have been claiming more than half the rental. (By the rules, if he had evicted his girl-friend and was the sole occupant he would have been perfectly entitled to his claim!).

In any event his exaggerated claims have totalled some 160,000 kronor (about $23,000) that he was not entitled to. Yesterday he called a press conference and apologised excusing his behaviour on “not being aware of the rules”. He paid back the money yesterday. His acknowledgement of his “ignorance of the rules” is being received with some incredulity since an “internal audit” within the Social Democrats had apparently identified the problem back in 2009. The Parliamentary Finance Office pointed out the non-compliance a month ago when Juholt applied for an increase in his compensation because the rent had increased. That he kept silent for a month and only decided to apologise and pay the money back after the Aftonbladet newspaper had revealed the scandal has not added to his crediblity.

The extra payment he claimed has amounted to about 3,500 kronor per month and considering that his monthly salary is 144,000 kronor (about $21,000), the impression he has created is one of a greedy little man looking for every kronor he can squeeze out of the system.

Of course he is not the first – and is certainly not the last – Swedish politician caught with his hand in the till. Many have distinguished themselves by jumping housing queues and “purchasing” rental accommodation with very lucrative results. Swedish politicians are also known – both at the national and at the local level – for blatantly arranging the rules to ensure their financial well-being even after they have left office. Their defence thereafter has always been that they are “just following the rules” but they don’t usually mention that they made the rules themselves.

Swedish politicians like most of their European counterparts are extremely moralistic about the behaviour of others but are remarkably hypocritical when it comes to their own behaviour. Their own sense of ethics leaves a lot to be desired.

Juholt continues his Stalinesque purge

April 1, 2011
Håkan Juholt continues with his Stalinesque purge of the Swedish Social Democrats. Male social democrats who are out of favour are being replaced on the grounds of being the wrong sex! But sex discrimination in this form is of course politically correct.
Purges continue in the Social Democratic party leader after the change. Now it is the turn  of the assigned group leader in parliament, Sven-Erik Osterberg, who was one of candidates to become the new party leader, to go.
A new leader will be appointed at the parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday next week. Who  the new team leader will be is unclear. According to Rapport’s sources  the new party leader Håkan Juholt plans to fill the post with a woman. He has been in talks with party colleagues and said that it is important to have a woman in the post  to get a reasonably even gender balance in leadership positions in the party.
Sven-Erik Osterberg wanted to remain as leader, but after talks with Håkan Juholt agreed to step down.

Earlier Ibrahim Baylan was forced to quit a Party Secretary to make way for Carin Jämtin. This was necessary since the new Party Leader was a male and had to be “balanced” by a female Party Secretary! And now the unfortunate Osterberg is also apparently of the wrong sex. Sounds as if this is yet another case of  politically correct  sex discrimination being used to implement a political purge.

In the modern Social Democrats, competence is of little value if you are the wrong sex.

Related:  Juholt, the smiling Stalin, begins the purge as the Social Democrats try to relive the past

Juholt, the smiling Stalin, begins the purge as the Social Democrats try to relive the past

March 22, 2011

The Social Democrats in Sweden will have their convention at the end of this week where Håkan Juholt will be confirmed by a vast majority, if not unanimously, as their new leader. It will all seem very democratic of course even though the party’s Nomination Committee produced his name out of a hat at the last minute after a very obscure and confusing process reminiscent of a Soviet style politburo election in action.

Håkan Juholt : image ulf-vargek.blogspot.com

While Juholt’s physical resemblance to a smiling Stalin is meant partly in jest, the coup by the left wing of the party and the subsequent purge of the more moderate and “right-wing” leaders is anything but a jest. There may not be much real blood spilled in these days but the elimination of the “opposition” is as ruthless as anything Stalin perpetrated. In an organisational sense the Social Democrats are the true inheritors of the power broking style of the communist parties of the Soviet bloc. The smoke-filled rooms are gone (since this is Sweden and smoking is almost as sinful as any hint of male chauvinism and certainly more sinful than paedophilia) but the back-rooms are still around and the influence of the power brokers still reigns supreme.

Of course a new leader will appoint his friends around him. But guilt by association has been created as a new sin within the Social Democrats. The Nomination Committee has done its job well and prepared the way for a purge. Where unwanted individuals actually proposed policies more in line with the electorate, they have been blamed for the election defeat without reference to policies so that they can be removed. Where favoured individuals backed the losing policies they have anyway been “promoted” as being the instruments of rejuvenation. But all of this is merely an attempt to step back to the “good old times” of 40 years ago.

The Svenska Dagbladet writes:

The ousting of Ylva Johansson and Thomas Östros is extraordinary. The latter is being punished for being Mona Sahlin’s candidate for finance minister. There seems also to be a new principle that not only the leader shall be held accountable for policy failures.

It looks like a shift to the left. (So the Social Democrats) dismiss Thomas Östros who criticized the Social Democrats’ fiscal policies from the right and selects Veronica Palm who has defended the tax policy adopted before the election.

I wonder how long it will take for the Social Democrats to realise that trying to recreate “good old times” is a cul-de-sac.


Håkan Juholt – A Stalin with a smile for the Swedish Social Democrats?

March 15, 2011
Swedish papers size up Håkan Juholt

Håkan Juholt. photo Bertil Ericsson / Scanpix

The Social Democratic party in Sweden have been choosing a new leader to replace Mona Sahlin who resigned after the party’s debacle in the last general elections. To the surprise of many the Nomination Committee has proposed Håkan Juholt, a member of Parliament for 15 years and chairman of the parliament’s defence committee but a relative unknown.

Though I am no expert, I find the Social Democrat’s selection process for a new leader a remarkable example of old-fashioned politburo machinations masquerading as a democratic and open process. A secretive nomination cloaked by an apparently open vote of approval at a party convention — but where the the Nomination Committee’s proposals are always adopted. The Nomination Committee itself works in some unknown fashion where “consultation” with all the party districts is carried out through some mysterious and  secret channels. The surprise expressed by so many Social Democrats at the committees  final choice of Håkan Juholt also demonstrates that there was no obvious choice by a majority. Traditionalism and back-room deals by a small cabal still controls the Social Democrats. Their so-called “democratic selection” is just a sham.

The nomination of Juholt is considered a coup for the left wing of the party. The Local:

According to a poll published on Friday in the Metro newspaper, nearly two thirds of Swedes surveyed said they had no idea who Juholt was, while an additional 22 percent said they only knew his name.

Metro went on to compare Juholt to Super Mario of the eponymous video game. Both have mustaches and both are heroes, although Super Mario fights “flame-throwing turtles” while Juholt’s main enemy is a “centre-right Alliance that stole his voters”.

The Social Democrat-supporting Aftonbladet praised Juholt’s folksy appeal and the fact that he had “visited every Social Democratic association between Ystad and Haparanda”, two cities in the far south and far north, respectively.

While concluding that the choice of Juholt “could very well work”, Aftonbladet cautioned that “despite Julholt’s many years in national politics, one can’t find a single political idea that he’s promoted”.

The independently liberal Expressen labeled Juholt “a compromiser’s compromise”, adding that the choice of Juholt, along with Carin Jämtin as party secretary, was a “major victory for the party’s left”. ..

The independently liberal-conservative Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) lamented that those who hoped for a “dynamic and future-oriented fountain of ideas behind the mustache” will likely be disappointed.

The paper points out that Juholt is no fan of “renewal”, but that he was approved because he has a “sufficiently weak profile so he can’t challenge the traditionalists”.

Interestingly the previous party secretary resigned his post one day before the nominations were announced and while he gave family reasons it was obvious that he had to do so only because he was male. The balance of the sexes had to be maintained with a female party secretary, Carin Jämtin, having to be nominated to balance the nomination of Juholt as party leader.

Political correctness in the shape of maintaining an equality of the sexes in Sweden sometimes goes to extraordinary lengths and often leads to the downgrading of talent and competence as selection parameters.

In any event the leftward lurch of the Social Democrats is a knee-jerk manifestation of the longing for the “good old times” of a party which has lost its way. It is hardly likely to lead to a rejuvenation of the party which is badly needed.

And Juholt is not , in my opinion, going to be a Super Mario. He is likely to prove to be a smiling Stalin.

I now expect a purge of right-wing and centrist members from the Social Democrats.



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