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Dark horse MP named as Sahlin's successor

Dark horse MP named as Sahlin's successor

Published: 10 Mar 2011 10:31 GMT+01:00
Updated: 10 Mar 2011 12:08 GMT+01:00

Håkan Juholt, current chair of the Riksdag's Committee on Defence, has been put forward as the Social Democrats' top choice to become the party's new leader, the chair of the party's nomination committee announced on Thursday.

In addition to giving its nod to Juholt as the new party leader, the Social Democrats' nomination committee also named Carin Jämtin to take over as party secretary from Ibrahim Baylan, who announced at the weekend he planned to step down at the party's extra congress.

"We are humbled and proud of this. We're aware that the congress will choose the party's leadership," Juholt said at a Thursday afternoon press conference.

Nomination committee chair Berit Andnor said the committee was unanimous in its decision.

"There was one person who responded well to the requirements we put forward," she said.

Juholt stressed that while he and Jämtin had been picked as candidates by the nomination committee, the process of installing them as the core of the party's new leadership team wasn't quite finished.

"We see ourselves as candidates and await the decision which will be taken by the congress. Carin and I have so many years behind us in the party; we're filled with ideas and thoughts about social democracy," Juholt continued.

"We're going to do everything we can to strengthen the Social Democrats," said Juholt, before turning the podium over to Jämtin.

"More and more people are attracted to the Social Democrats' ideas. Our membership figures have increased in the last three years," she said.

"We can strengthen social democracy as an open movement which is it its core working for equality and growth. That is the basis for people's freedom. That is the ultimate goal of the social democratic movement."

A dark horse candidate whose name only recently entered into discussions about who would success Mona Sahlin as party chair, Juholt has been a member of the Riksdag since 1994 and also serves as the party's chair in Kalmar County in southern Sweden.

He was presented by the nomination committee at a hastily called Thursday morning meeting with chairs of the party's local districts.

Political science professor Nicholas Aylott from Södertörn University told The Local that Juholt "sailed up into the pole position from absolutely nowhere".

Neverthelss, Aylott didn't think the choice was a "total surprise", pointing out that Juholt may be just the person to mediate disputes between the party's internal factions.

"His biggest advantage may be that the left appear to have gathered behind him without him being someone who has openly been allied with the left wing of the party," said Aylott.

Jämtin served as Sweden's foreign development aid minister under Göran Persson from 2003 to 2006, after which she took over as leader of the opposition in Stockholm. She is also vice chair of the Stockholm County governing board.

Juholt shot to the fore of party's hunt for a new leader after Tomas Eneroth and Lief Pagrotsky both said no to taking over the post, as had many other top names within the party in recent weeks.

Speaking to reporters following the announcement he had been chosen to stand for the leadership post, Juholt expressed his optimism about the Social Democrats' chances of defeating the current centre-right Alliance government.

"At this stage, I'm comfortable with the notion that the government had expected to not win the last election. I didn't hear anyone talking about ideas, about how we would develop Sweden in the future," said Juholt.

"Therefore, I feel that the centre-right government feels a strong threat from the opposition."

According to political scientist Ulf Bjereld, the naming of Juholt represents a victory for the Social Democrats' process of renewal.

"It's a victory for those who are striving for renewal in the party and for those who blocked (Mikael) Damberg," he told the TT news agency.

"Juholt isn't a part of the old leadership, and therefore has a heavy burden to bear. I think it's brave of the nomination committee because he hasn't been a minister and is a little of an untested entity."

Following the Social Democrats disastrous results in the most recent parliamentary elections in September 2010, Juholt was the first prominent politician to support a demand made by the head of the party's youth organisation SSU, Jytte Guteland, that the party's governing board should resign.

His opinion mattered a great deal as he was a member of the party's governing board at the time, and a number of of other prominent Social Democrats followed Juholt's lead.

As a result, he is seen to have played a decisive role in Sahlin's decision to step down as party leader in November.

Juholt has spent most of his career engaged in military and defence policy, but in a recent book he slammed the party's latest election campaign.

"There was no direction in the 2010 election; it was like a kettle of popcorn with one thing popping up after another," he said in the book, entitled Arbetarrörelsens kris - mellan reformism och marknadsliberalism ('The labour movement's crisis: between reformism and market liberalism'), written by Ingemar E.L. Göransson.

In the book, he makes it clear he's tired of the talk of renewal and says that for the last 100 years, the Social Democrats have worked to make it possible for citizens to make their choices in life a reality.

"There's been so much damn new and shortsighted thinking from a bunch of spin doctors close to the party leadership. What sort of direction is that when we get excited about 5-6 billion in reduced value added tax for restaurants in the final days of the campaign – none at all!" Juholt said in the book.

The party plans to hold an extra congress on March 25th-27th at which time the Social Democrats new leader will be formally appointed.

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

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Your comments about this article

10:54 March 10, 2011 by Luckystrike
A face you can trust!.....not.
10:56 March 10, 2011 by johnny1939
Oh God! Can't they come up w/ anybody better they must be very hard put and scrounging around for a leader.
11:14 March 10, 2011 by Plowbridge
He is not a dark horse, as he has been touted for the job that no one wants since Sahlin decided to leave. However in search for a new leader with vision and scope to drag the party back into competence, he is far from being the correct choice. Where are all the young, ambitious, clever Swedes in SD? Where are they anywhere we may ask.

Reinfeldt and the fat pony tail boy must be laughing, as this gives them a free rein to sell off the country and take it down the Thatcher route without a credible opposition.
11:17 March 10, 2011 by calebian22
"Kallar du mig, ful?"
11:30 March 10, 2011 by McChatter
Is this really why Göran Persson has been 'phoning all leading socialists up and down the country over the past few days? This story does give one a certain feeling of "déjà vu"; just like the situation 4 years ago when no-one wanted the job and Moaner kept sticking her finger up and saying "I'll do it!". This must be a terribly ungrateful job since so many politicians don't want it. Good luck to the dark horse. It would be nice to have an opposition in the Riksdag again.
11:56 March 10, 2011 by Jes
The moustache makes him look less intelligent ; otherwise , the Social Democratic party could do with a new face and fresher brains .
12:25 March 10, 2011 by Nemesis
I wonder who really chosse this guy.

I can guarentee there was not one swede involved. Everyone involved would have been english speaking and espousing the neoliberal bible of greed.
13:09 March 10, 2011 by Plowbridge
You have outdone yourself there, nemesis. For a start, no-one has chosen him yet. It is all conjuncture. Then there is the selection process within the SD's that is non open and ruled by committee. All of them will be Swedish. And finally, if you do not know, the ideology of SD is socialism not capitlism.

Still you only got it all completely and absolutely wrong. Next time you guarantee something, put your money where your mouth is. It will be very easy money for someone.
14:18 March 10, 2011 by swedekk
SD = Sverige Demokaterna = Far right party, Sweden Democrats

S = Social Demokraterna = Left party, Social Democrats

This article is about S and don't mix those two up, even though both are insane.
14:20 March 10, 2011 by Rishonim
Judging from that picture,.they both look mentally displaced. Hang a bib around their necks cause it seems like they are drooling ;-)
14:24 March 10, 2011 by Syftfel
Swedeen would be bettyerb served if the social dem party simply abolished itself. Their type of underhanded, ersatz, communism has long ago ceased to be relevant. When Palme entered the stage in the 60s the party lost its soul, and became an orwellian mouth piece who only knew how to spew forth outdated marxist dogma. Hate America! Tax the rich! Egalitarianism above all! And look what they did to the immigration debacle. That alone ought to be enough to scare away even the most die hard. Hence the appointment of this working class hero is another piece of evidence that this party is in its death throws. Sweden has turned its back on the people. No let's move Sweden forward away from socialism, and on to Nordic freedom, initiative, inspiration and industriousness.
15:09 March 10, 2011 by johnny1939
@syftfel I am in full agreement. I wonder why not more people see it our way. The sossarna are a joke these days. Per Albin Hansson is turning like a rotarotor in his grave.
15:13 March 10, 2011 by Nomark
Errrm,... The leader will be one of only two people in the country who could realistically be the next prime minister. Its therefore crucial that the leader is chosen in an open competitive way.

Perhaps I missed it. Where were the other candidates ? When did the debates take place ? What did the he and the other candidates stand for and why was he chosen for nomination ?
15:24 March 10, 2011 by Swedesmith
Ha! You should see who our leader is in the United States...
15:40 March 10, 2011 by prince T
I dont understand why they dont allow this people to campaign, slog it out and allow party members to vote who they want. They campaign in other countries. This is what got us Sahlin in the first place. We ignore competence for compromise.

Secondly, I understand why it is compulsory they have a woman leader.
15:44 March 10, 2011 by Kevin Harris
Please would the Social Democrat Party get these two fitted with dentures as soon as possible.
19:47 March 10, 2011 by technoviking
First proposal... Voting rights for illegal immigrants!
22:16 March 10, 2011 by Zala Russe
Read. Fail. 'They make me ill' MUSE; 'Showbiz'. SDP Leadership, do the decent thing. Die.
23:30 March 10, 2011 by Luke35711
Top competent and intelligent Swedes have already left the country, most likely to the US, or the UK.

Average honest and sane Swedes are too lazy to get involved in politics, enjoying leisurely work schedules, half a year of holidays, forests, lakes, shopping, fashion, television and computer games, and other things that get average Swedes excited (if you know what I mean).

Therefore only insane Swedes are left to engage in public life, which results in increasingly insane political life. I wouldn't say it's a totalitarian county yet, but there are definitely some tendencies in that direction. Freedom of speech and press don't really exist here.
05:50 March 11, 2011 by uname
Looks like the social democrats has finally made a decent chocie of party chairman. I had never heard of him before and my top choice was Lena Sommestad, but that was not very likely to happen considering she's not even in parliament.

But after looking into Juholt's past, stances and watching a few old videos of him, I can say that the Social Demoracts may finally have found someone who can seriously take on the ruling neo-liberals, not by moving the party in their direction as Mona Sahlin did, but instead by offering a clear alternative the neo-liberal, inhuman politics of recent years.
16:34 March 12, 2011 by mieoux
SwedeSmith,

I hope you are actually Swedish and that you don't have voting rights in America.

Otherwise who were you thinking of voting in? Sarah Palin? Someone from the Tea Party? Please! Obama is going to a second term, no one wants a "potential Bush" in the Oval Office.
23:56 March 12, 2011 by rumcajs
@plowbridge, Nemesis can be right or wrong... I donät know at the moment, but I do know that you didnät get his comment at all.

He didnät say that there are english or americans officialy choosing those people as the party is very capitalist.

He was saying that the economic powers ... mostly US Aand UK managed... control the party-ies and the party does what they are told... like choosisng this guy. Again, I donät know if he is right, but itäs a theory and it'd be good if we listen to all of them and make our own mind .... not believe only the official bulls***t
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