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Left Party Secretary quits

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10:49 CEST+02:00
Another high profile figure in Sweden's faltering Left Party has announced her resignation. Pernilla Zethraeus, the party secretary, will not put herself up for relection at the end of the year and will step down from the board.

Zethraeus has been the Left Party's secretary since June 2000.

"It's a tough job," she said.

"It's good to refresh things, to take in new blood, and you do that by not having politicians staying around for too long."

That view seems to have taken hold of the Left Party in recent months. According to a recent survey conducted by Dagens Nyheter, up to a third of the Left party's Members of Parliament may not stand at the next election.

Seven of thirty MPs have already confirmed their decision and at the beginning of June Karin Svensson Smith defected to the Green Party.

She followed former leader Gudrun Schyman, who quit in December to set up the Feminist Initiative - which is expected to fight the next election on a mandate similar to that of the Left Party.

But Pernilla Zethraeus emphasised that she was not jumping ship because she disagreed with either its course - or its captain, leader Lars Ohly.

"I would have made this decision whoever was party leader," Zethraeus told Swedish Radio.

"Obviously there are issues which we have different opinions about. It would be rather strange if we didn't, but we have absolutely no problems working together."

One of those issues about which the two have different opinions is that Lars Ohly describes himself as a communist, while Pernilla Zethraeus does not.

"For a great many people, that has become synonymous with Eastern states, dictatorships and Stalinism," she said.

"That doesn't work for me."

While Zethraeus admitted that "there is never a good time to leave the party secretary post" she said that doing so now would give someone the chance to establish themselves before the election next September.

She told news agency TT that she was not leaving the party, and that she still burned for the issues which led her to join in the first place.

"We want to build up the welfare system and create fairness and even out the divisions which exist," she said.

But if her departure brings more uncertainty to the Left Party, what Zethraeus will do now is not clear.

"I don't know. I haven't the faintest idea. I'm open to offers."

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, Expressen, SR

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