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Sahlin slams Social Democrats over Libya

Sahlin slams Social Democrats over Libya

Published: 30 May 2011 13:35 GMT+02:00
Updated: 30 May 2011 13:35 GMT+02:00

Former Social Democrat leader Mona Sahlin has criticised the party's u-turns over Sweden's participation in the UN-backed Libya mission, and new leader Håkan Juholt for being "harsh" to former justice minister Thomas Bodström.

Sahlin expressed her dismay over the Social Democrats current position on the Libya mission - that aircraft should be replaced by naval resources - in an interview with Dagens Nyheter (DN) on Monday.

"I think the Libya mission is incredibly important and we have to maintain the (cross-party) agreement. I don't understand what is happening at the moment," Sahlin said.

Sahlin continued to argue that it would be "horrible" if the Social Democrats were to be left out of the negotiations.

"The UN has asked Sweden to participate and we Social Democrats have made an agreement with the government. Then you should conduct a discussion with the government if the deployment should be discontinued or continue," she said.

Sahlin, who served as the leader of the Social Democrats from March 2007 until 2011, was pointedly reluctant to comment on her successor, Håkan Juholt, or the path that the Social Democrats should take to win back the confidence of the Swedish voters.

Since Sahlin's decision to resign as head of the Social Democrats almost six months ago, the party has engaged in a torrid process of self-reflection as it engaged in the process of appointing a new leader and to rebuild its political platform.

A recently published book by former justice minister and staunch Sahlin ally, Thomas Bodström, has sent shockwaves once again through the party.

In his book, Bodström claimed that Sahlin was the victim of a coup headed by Håkan Juholt, who was at the time a little known although long term member of the party's rank and file.

Juholt has since responded to Bodström's accusation, dismissing him as a "mediocre thriller writer" who had spent longer playing football than as a politician.

While Sahlin declined to confirm Bodström's version of events surrounding her departure, saying that she intended to read the book first, she leapt to her former cabinet colleague's defence.

"I think that Håkan expressed himself a little harshly in that Thomas had played football longer than he had been engaged in politics," she told DN.

"Thomas is like Zlatan, I think. It would be terrible with a national team with only Zlatan but it is nice that there is one," she added, referring to the popular Swedish captain and Milan star Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Sahlin continued to discuss the process of renewal that the party is undergoing in order to be more attractive to voters in Swedish cities, admitting that the process is plagued by difficulties.

"We are a party which is so old and we have so much tradition behind us, and there are still quite a few who look backwards."

The Swedish Social Democrats received between 40-55 percent of the votes in all elections between 1940 and 1988.

Aside from some short periods of coalition rule and opposition, the party enjoyed a long period of government until the victory by the centre-right Alliance coalition in 2006, a success repeated in 2010.

The party's share of the national vote had been in decline throughout the 2000s and plunged to a record low 30.66 percent in 2010.

Mona Sahlin was appointed as the party's first female leader in 2007, to succeed the outgoing Göran Persson. She is currently working with anti-racist newspaper Expo and has taken a position at the head of the fund set up to honour the murdered foreign minister Anna Lindh.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

15:41 May 30, 2011 by Cornelius Hamelberg
Sahlin - Juholt. Seems that there's no love lost between them.

One does not invite the other to her send off party.

One does not attend the other's inauguration party.

One does not behave like that to one's party comrade.

Svartsjuk?

And neither of them is black, though one of them is obviously suffering from the disease.
15:47 May 30, 2011 by zircon
Honour the murdered foreign minister Anna Lindh? Oh, yes I see, buying wisdom is a good thing.
15:53 May 30, 2011 by jackx123
Bodström's accusations were/are right as Mona has pointed out - Russian election style.

Julholt is jus another opportunistic communist leaning on the social democrats. He cannot put forward a credible agenda other than "we must take care of the poor and the little people (as another swede recently exclaimed)"
10:20 May 31, 2011 by infidel2012
As before when she was in offfice, Sahlin was a 'Can Say' not a 'Can Do' politician. Anything she has to say is wasting good PR time for some other politician, that can actually make a difference in Sweden. Like most Swedes, always complaining with no actual solutions or actions.

Can't that bag of cold wind just retire quietly?
12:55 May 31, 2011 by Cornelius Hamelberg
Sahlin is not the only one dismayed by besserwisser Julholt's current position on the Libya mission - that aircraft should be replaced by naval resources

Mona is being reasonable and practical and like a true Swede going for consensus and still listening to NATO Commanders and those who know what's happening; Juholt who has probably done his military service is being a visionary here and two weeks ago, although Gaddafi was still not gone he was advocating that Sweden withdraw the Gripen Jas Planes' vital contributions to the mission. Juholt doesn't want to merely agree with the Swedish Government he probably wants to profile himself as the new leader – and since he's got a Mother Teresa sort of Social Democrat conscience , probably in concert with Urban Ahlin he wants to improve on what the government is not saying about the humanitarian situation and is impatient to help the Libyan people on the ground, now not just after the war is over and Gaddafi's gone. He thinks it's high time that we sent in the Swedish Navy. And medical teams, construction engineers etc...

Joking : If Juholt were commander-in-chief of the US army and in charge of using the military as part of foreign policy we would all be reminded of this old song:

http://www.google.com/#sclient=psy&hl=...end+the+Marines
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