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Sahlin calls on Social Democrat heads to resign

TT/The Local/vt · 10 Nov 2010, 11:57

Published: 10 Nov 2010 11:57 GMT+01:00

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"That's the answer we have been waiting for. It is an important statement," said the Social Democratic Youth League (Socialdemokratiska Ungdomsförbundet) Chairwoman Jytte Guteland told news agency TT.

"A newly elected executive committee and board will give us gives a leadership for the party that can stand up for a new policy," she added.

Throughout the day, an increasing number of party members echoed her sentiments. The party's youth wing was supported by Håkan Juholt, who also sits on the board, as well as the Social Democrats' chairman in Blekinge, Mats Johansson, also sided with the youth wing.

"It is a reasonable demand," he said, implying that after the election defeat, the party must look at not only at its policies, but also at the organisation and its lineup.

"The situation is critical," added Johansson.

However, he would not go into how important it is for leaders to be replaced, noting that everyone in leadership positions in the party, not just Sahlin, were responsible for the defeat.

Four fatal mistakes costed the left-leaning coalition the election, according to a leading Social Democrat politician: the reintroduction of property taxes, higher gas taxes, a halving of the restaurant tax and lower taxes for pensioners.

"We had an advantage of 18 percentage points in the polls before we entered an alliance with the Left and Green Parties; we quickly lost ground in connection with building up the alliance," said Morgan Johansson, who is a member of parliament and heads one the Social Democrats' post-election analysis groups, to the Sydsvenskan daily.

"However, we could have won the election anyway - if we did not make these crucial blunders," he said.

Johansson called the proposal for the reintroduction of a property tax "foolish" because it would have given the public treasury only 300 million kronor ($44.38 million).

Meanwhile, the proposal on reduced restaurant taxes was a "group snap decision" by all the party leaders, who were deceived into believing that it would create 10,000 new jobs.

Furthermore, Johansson argued that the election campaign largesse offered to Sweden's pensioners had only a limited impact at the polls.

"Our huge election promise to pensioners resulted in a very small positive mark on voter opinion," he said, arguing that the party leadership grossly underestimated the importance of voter opinion.

He added that the party's executive committee bears a heavy responsibility for the loss, but singled out economic spokesman Thomas Östros in particular.

"If one looks at the issues that determined the election, tax issues weighed heavily. This is where Thomas Östros carries a large responsibility, it has to be said," said Johansson.

"It was he who negotiated the content of the economic policy."

Johansson is not alone in openly criticising the upper echelons of a party that has governed Sweden for the greater part of the past 80 years.

"The image of the party as an inflexible and conservative power elite is perhaps the party's greatest enemy," wrote Ardalan Shekarabi and Anna Johansson, who lead the Social Democrats' crisis commission, in an opinion article in the Dagens Nyheter daily on Wednesday.

They are supported by Håkan Juholt who sits on the board and now the Social Democrats' chairman in Blekinge, Mats Johansson.

According to political scientist and Social Democrat Stig-Björn Ljunggren, the opening salvoes of criticism have now sparked a war within the Social Democrats.

Story continues below…

Ljunggren argued that a demand by the party's youth league that the entire party executive committee must make their positions available, as well as several outbursts by leading Social Democrats such as Ylva Johansson and Morgan Johansson, are indications of this development.

"Now, the long knives will come out. 'Blame game' is one way of putting it, another is that it is payback," Ljunggren told news agency TT.

He believes that the months leading up to the party's extraordinary congress may turn bloody for the Social Democrats, which he describes as several different parties within a coalition.

Ljunggren does not think that the time available until the next election is sufficient for the party to make a fresh start.

"Not as it stands now. They even seem to have difficulty determining what the problem is. Paradoxically, the crisis is so big that there is a underlying unity. That is why no one has gone after [party leader] Mona [Sahlin] yet because everyone realises that that will be the moment when full chaos erupts," he said.

The party's executive committee has convened in recent days and, according to several sources, some heated discussions have ensued. This comes as no surprise to Ljunggren.

"The party leadership has probably begun to realize that it was too passive and now others are taking the initiative. However, it is not a group that takes the initiative without many taking advantage of the vacuum. Mona seems to have taken a timeout and now the mice are coming out to play," he said.

TT/The Local/vt (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

14:19 November 10, 2010 by Rolle
The election results were too big of a blow to the Social Democrats, so i would expect big changes in the party in the years to come. Getting rid of Mona Sahlin seems as a must
15:08 November 10, 2010 by Syftfel
It was irrefutably established long ago that the social dems lack the gene for common decency. Why are they now looking for someone to blame? Don't these people realize that the marxist principles of the social dems, and especially SSU, are simply not palatable to any decent Swede, and fly in the face of basic Swedishness. No amount of lipstick can enhance your socialist/dictatorial, tax-and-spend, ideas. Get over it social dems, you lost! And you are not welcome back in any way shape or form. Good riddance!!
17:29 November 10, 2010 by mjennin2
How about Sahlin does something she has never done before, and LEAD BY EXAMPLE by resigning, herself!

Jesus H. Christ, this woman is almost as bad as Nancy Pelosi! You lost big time, so for the sake of the future of your party, have some dignity and quit!
17:41 November 10, 2010 by americanska
She was the face of the party and it's faiure. How can she have the nerve to ask for others to step down????

20:01 November 10, 2010 by Njal
Sounds like a similar situation as we have here in B.C.

Our premiere (head minister of the province of British Columbia), was too arrogant in implementing taxes without regard for what voters had wanted and an election promise which he broke (surprise, surprise). Earlier in his office he was caught DUI in hawaii. he technically didn't break any Canadian law, but as he was the premiere of BC it didn't look too good. He wouldn't step down either, but plied the voters with some nonsense about 'an on-going commitment to British Columbians', translation: I don't want to lose my pension even though I don't deserve it.

Eventually, when his approval rating hit 9%, he grudgingly left, trying to play the part of the victim blaming the people of BC for his errors.

If a leader does not have the confidence of the party, they gotta go.

Politicians are the same the world over.
21:52 November 10, 2010 by Beavis
Mona should look at herself rather than try to blame her collegues, she is their leader afterall. Only a poor leader tried to blame them below them.
07:33 November 11, 2010 by Alf Garnett
Time to shut down the "new" sosso, they & there loony allies are as condescending as Tony B'LIAR & "NEW" labour. So full of their own importance
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