Jämtin leaves parliament

Leading Social Democrat Carin Jämtin quit her seat in the Swedish parliament on Friday, appearing to confirm that she will not be a candidate to lead the party.

Former minister Jämtin, who is leads the opposition party’s group on Stockholm City Council, was seen as one of the leading contenders to replace former prime minster Göran Persson as party leader. Persson quit following the party’s election defeat in September.

She posted her letter resigning her seat to the Riksdag authorities on Wednesday. It is widely considered necessary to have a seat in parliament in order to lead an opposition party.

“This means she is not standing. That’s just the way it is,” said ex-health minister Morgan Johansson to Svenska Dagbladet. Johansson had been one of the cheerleaders for a Jämtin leadership bid.

“This was what she said earlier in the week, and I’m disappointed, but I respect her decision,” Johansson said.

Lena Hjelm-Wallén, who is organizing the Social Democrats’ leadership election, said she did not wish to draw any conclusions from Jämtin’s decision, Svenska Dagbladet wrote.

It is a tradition within the Social Democrats for leadership candidates to deny that they are seeking the post. Göran Persson denied he was a candidate until the very last minute. This means that media and many party members have treated sceptically the various candidates’ claims not to be interested in the party’s top job.

Jämtin’s resignation of her parliamentary seat is being seen as final proof that she really is not interested.

European Commissioner Margot Wallström has also ruled out standing for the position, a denial that most in the Social Democrats are now taking at face value. With many within the party pushing for a woman leader, former sustainable development minister Mona Sahlin has emerged as a frontrunner.