Government could dump Left following Ohly scandal

The secretary of the Social Democratic Party has said that her party could break off its partnership with the Left Party. The warning from Marita Ulvskog came after Lars Ohly, leader of the Left Party, said that he still considers himself a communist.

Writing in Expressen, Ulvskog challenged the party to “clearly and honestly show that it does not waver in its view of democracy.”

Ohly, having sustained a barrage of criticism from almost every angle, was eager to oblige: “Of course she and everyone else will get a clear declaration of the Left Party’s democratic credentials,” he told Svenska Dagbladet.

It was not immediately clear how far Ulvskog would go towards carrying out her threat. The Social Democrats rely on their partnership with the Left Party to get a majority in the Riksdag in many policy areas.

Ohly was also facing attacks from his own party colleagues this week. SvD reported that a majority of his MPs were challenging him to renounce his use of the ‘c-word’.

“It shows a lack of judgement,” said one of them , Anders Wiklund. “Given what we know about countries that had [communist] regimes, it is nearly offensive and provocative,” he added.

Nonetheless, a third of Leftist Riksdag representatives thought that Ohly’s description of his politics was no big deal. And the man himself was reaching for his trusty dictionary to make his point.

“Nordstedt’s dictionary defines communism as an ideology that seeks common ownership in order to bring about a classless society,” he said, saying that it was this aspect of communism that he supported, adding that he felt no affinity with the totalitarian side of communism.

The Left Party’s history, and particularly its relationships with Eastern Bloc comunist states, is one reason why Ohly is coming under such heavy scrutiny for his latest pronouncements. Now the party has promised to do a comprehensive investigation into its past.

“Even though we have made critical studies of our own history over many years, we do need to do it more clearly, and once and for all,” said party secretary Pernilla Zethraeus to DN.

If Left Party members are sounding disappointed with their leadership, the same could also be said of some members of Göran Persson’s party. Liberal leader Lars Leijonborg was out “fishing for Social Democrats” this week, reported DN. He found a number of allies on the question of nuclear power, which the Liberals want to keep, but which the government is dismantling.

DN reported that a “a senior Social Democrat councillor in Oxelösund,” had spoken out against the closure of the Barsebäck nuclear power station, which was announced last week.

Leijonborg was making much of the divisions in the ruling party: “The right-wing parties are split in the nuclear power question, but so are the Social Democrats,” he said, adding that “in these circumstances it is important to argue my point as much as possible.”

With all this division about, there was one area where everyone was agreed: the Swedish armed forces will face big cuts.

Tuesday’s DN reported that proposals by the right-wing parties for changes to the armed forces would not differ much from those recently laid out by the government.

“However you look at it, a large number of units will disappear under our proposals,” Christian Democrat leader Göran Hägglund told DN.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, Expressen