Nuder accused of SSU membership fraud

Dagens Nyheter has accused Pär Nuder, finance minister and 'crown prince' to Göran Persson, of fraudently claiming extra public subsidies as chairman of the Stockholm district of the SSU at the end of the 1980's. By inflating membership figures, the district received several hundred thousand kronor per year more than they were entitled to from Stockholm County Council.

Nuder was chairman of the Stockholm district of the SSU, the Social Democrats’ youth organisation, during a period at the end of the 1980’s which apparently saw a steep rise in new members.

“There was a lot of talk even then about this remarkable increase. It was a bit of a joke,” a source close to the SSU told DN.

In 1984, SSU’s Stockholm district reported 6,300 members. In 1988, membership reached a peak of 8,980. Nuder was chairman from 1986 to the beginning of 1989. As membership within the district rose, membership nationwide plummeted from 68,000 in 1985 to 41,000 in 1990.

DN inspected applications for public subsidies submitted to Stockholm County Council and found that Nuder personally authorised two of the allegedly fraudulent applications, in 1986 and 1987.

According to DN, in 1985, Stockholm district’s Huddinge branch only received fees from one in ten members – 50 out of 500. Other branches did not collect any fees at all. Nuder used the 1985 figures for the basis of his application in 1986.

DN’s source said that the false applications were a deliberate part of Nuder’s career strategy. His objective was to succeed Anna Lindh as national chairman of the SSU in 1990. In order to do this, he needed a strong district.

“The method used to achieve that was not to remove old members from the register,” said the source.

Branches passed on membership fees for members who had quit to the district organisation. In 1989, fees had come in for only 3,500 members in the six branches investigated by DN. But the branches passed on money equating to the fees of 6,000 members.

The figures just for 1989 and just for the branches scrutinised by DN meant that the SSU’s Stockholm district received 180,000 kronor more than they were entitled to in 1990.

A number of senior figures in the SSU’s Stockholm District at the time have sought to explain the dramatic rise in membership as the result of a high profile publicity campaign. Nuder led the nationwide campaign, called “Rör inte min kompis” (“Don’t touch my mate”).

However, member of parliament Tommy Waidelich, who was treasurer at the time, admits there were problems with the payment of membership fees within the SSU:

“We were aware of the problem. I remember from my time as a branch chairman that it was difficult to collect fees.”

DN were unable to get Pär Nuder to answer questions on their allegations.

Coincidentally, only yesterday, Göran Persson surprised the press and colleagues by suggesting he might resign as Social Democrat party leader and prime minister in the Autumn. Persson has since retracted this suggestion, and now says he will fight the 2006 election, but his comments have highlighted the lack of an obvious successor. Although there isn’t a clear favourite to succeed Persson, it is widely believed that Nuder is the prime minister’s personal choice.

Allegations of membership fraud continue to dog the SSU. There are police investigations currently being conducted in six counties looking at the SSU’s practices.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter