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Social Democrats a 'gang of navel-gazers': report
SSU Chairwoman Jytte Guteland at debate at Stockholm's Kulturhuset, September

Social Democrats a 'gang of navel-gazers': report

Published: 14 Feb 2011 16:35 GMT+01:00
Updated: 14 Feb 2011 16:35 GMT+01:00

As new poll numbers show a continued slide in popularity for Sweden's Social Democrats, the party's crisis commission has proposed increasing the influence of members, trimming the size of its governing board and launching an open nomination process.

Stinging self-criticism is evident in one of the Social Democrats' crisis commission working group's reports obtained by newspaper Svenska Dagbladet (SvD).

In it, the Social Democrats are described as a party with poor self-esteem that has lost the initiative in policy debates and engages in "navel-gazing introspection."

The party is a closed world that does not engage the surrounding world with interest, the report continued. The working group described the attitude as "destructive" and suggested a number of proposals for how the party could improve itself.

One proposal is giving members greater influence through membership ballots for both personnel and issue-related matters. Another suggested measure is to make the leadership nomination process more transparent.

"Closed processes contribute to speculation and unnecessary rumours," the working group wrote.

The group also wants to trim the party's executive board, currently numbering nearly 50. According to the working group, the current system does not function as an effective decision-making body and results in the creation of smaller informal groupings.

The Swedish Social Democratic Youth League (Sveriges Socialdemokratiska Ungdomsförbund, SSU) welcomed the proposals. However, it wanted to go even further in terms of power sharing and elections for party leadership.

"The Social Democrats need a new reform programme for the organisation with more openness and a sharing of power. We cannot have representatives who sit 20 years in parliament," SSU Chairwoman Jytte Guteland wrote in a statement on Monday.

"The SSU wants to see term limits for all elected officials within the Social Democrats," she added.

The SSU demanded that "more young and new people" get seats in the party leadership and that the extraordinary congress next month will also select a new executive committee and a new party board.

The commission was set up after the Social Democrats' worst election showing since 1914 in September 2010.

Other groups have analysed the party's policies, election, idea debates and surrounding analyses. The findings will be presented on Tuesday.

At the same time, a new opinion poll conducted by United Minds and published in the Aftonbladet newspaper on Monday showed that support for the Social Democrats continues to sag.

According to the survey, only 25.6 percent of voters currently back the Social Democrats, a loss of nearly one in five voters since the election in September 2010 and a 1 percentage point drop since the previous poll.

However, support for the ruling Moderates has also retreated 3.3 percentage points to 31.8 percent, while the far-right Sweden Democrats have increased 1.5 percentage points to 8.5 percent.

The other members of the Alliance also saw gains in the poll. The Liberal Party (Folkpartiet) rose 1 percentage point to 7.2 percent, the Centre Party inched ahead 0.3 percentage points to 4.4 percent and the Christian Democrats advanced 0.8 percentage points to 4.6 percent.

The Green Party also rose 1.6 percentage points to 11.4 percent, but the Left Party fell 0.8 percentage points to 5.1 percent. A total of 1,158 respondents were interviewed online from January 17th to February 13th.

TT/The Local/vt (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

18:22 February 14, 2011 by Swedesmith
So they watch Baywatch, too.
20:21 February 14, 2011 by Tanskalainen
They are also champions at pocket-pool.
21:12 February 14, 2011 by Zala Russe
The Social Democrats (and I speak as a broad-based supporter) need to extract their heads. They are not navel-gazing but a*hole gazing. If the SocDems were a company, they would have long ago removed it's leadership for poor management performance. Stop trying to lay the blame at structure. It's the strategy that needs re-vamping. The Social Democrats need to appreciate that you cannot run with a schizophrenic power base. You CANNOT seriously be supportive of communities and organisations whose religious politics are in DIRECT contradistinction to your own values. Illiberalism, tolerance of terrorism, homophobia, sexism, anti-democratic leanings etc. The Social Democrats need to re-engage with, NOT the Sweden Democrats, but with the concerns that have propelled them to the inflated vantage point they enjoy. DON'T BLAME THE VOTERS! Get out of your ivory towers of dilettante socialism, and idealistic self-abuse. Address the 'here and now' not the 'way back when'. Be proud but be responsive. Represent and reflect the core values of the mainsteam fair-minded but hard-working average Swedish person. LEARN pragmatism by listening TO, rather than pontificating AT people.
21:40 February 14, 2011 by Syftfel
Where do I even begin on this one? I could easily lash out in a lithany of invective as to why the social dems are pack of useless gas bags, faux communists, klepto-liberals, who long ago outserved their usefulness with their tax hiking, income re-distributing edicts, nearly turning Sweden into a socialist swamp with their remorseless expansion of the welfare state. May they rest in peace, never again rear their sticky fingers. PS I'm voting SD next time.
08:56 February 15, 2011 by RobinHood
The Social Democrats had, (and still have) excellent policies - for the 1970's, but are completely baffled why people don't want them now. They just don't represent the hopes and aspirations of the modern working Swede.

Sweden needs an effective opposition to keep the ruling party in check. Someone has to change; either the modern working Swede, or the Social Democrat Party; the party thinks it's the Swede. While members see the party only as a cosy club whose purpose is to get each other well-paid jobs in public service, rather than an electoral machine to represent the leftward leaning portion of Swedish society, there is no hope for change. Potential party leaders seem to recognise this and don't want the job. Senior party members seem happy with a non-entity they can bully into leaving things just as they are.

The risk is that political gravity will eventually get a grip on the Moderate party. If the only other option is a trip back to the seventies, Sweden is in for a dose of government and policies 50 years out of date.
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