Left Party leader: “I am not a communist”

The leader of the Left Party, Lars Ohly, has decided to stop calling himself a communist, after a year of ridicule from his political opponents both inside and outside the Party.

“I don’t think I’ll use that definition in future,” said Ohly on Swedish Television’s Agenda programme on Sunday evening.

“Primarily to remove a barrier in conversations with people,” he explained.

After a Left Party leadership meeting on 18th September in Uddevalla – where several high profile members on the right of the party quit – Ohly said that he was considering stopping referring to himself as a communist.

But now he is getting to grips with the matter – sort of. The problem is that he said he still “believes in the same ideals” as before, including the vision of a classless society.

One of the reasons for the about-turn, he said, is that it is not possible to have an “intellectually honourable debate” about what he really means. Instead, the Left Party is linked with Soviet dictatorship, oppression and misery.

“All of our opponents wanted to align us with views we did not share,” said Ohly on Agenda.

These political opponents have hounded Ohly with the “C-word” ever since he became Left Party leader in February 2004. He now believes it was a mistake not to have thrown in the towel of communism earlier.

“Yes, that’s obvious,” said Ohly.

At the same time as his U-turn in rhetoric (although holding firm to his earlier ideals) Ohly does not want to admit that the change is intellectually dishonourable.

Nor will he say that he sees the whole charade as a concession to his political enemies. Rather, he says, it is about wrenching a tool – which “conceals the visions instead of bringing them forth” – from his opponents’ hands.

“It’s more out of respect for my friends,” said Ohly, referring to the party’s left-right rift and declining ratings.

In January the Left Party will hold its conference and far too many people – including its own supporters – believe that it is on the way back to the communism of the old days, says Ohly.

“So the concept is a hindrance,” he says.

Discuss this topic!

TT/The Local