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Sahlin quits as head of the Social Democrats

AFP/The Local · 14 Nov 2010, 19:10

Published: 14 Nov 2010 18:10 GMT+01:00
Updated: 14 Nov 2010 19:10 GMT+01:00

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Following a crisis meeting with district party chairs on Sunday, Sahlin emerged to tell reporters that she would not be standing for re-election as party chair at special party congress scheduled for March.

"It's time for others to have a chance," she said.

As head of the largest party in the opposition centre-left Red Green coalition, Sahlin ran to become Sweden's first female prime minister in the September general election, only to see her Social Democrats turn in their worst electoral performance since 1914.

"I have played an important role, now it's up to others to do so," she said on Sunday.

Sahlin, 53, has led the party since 2007 and will do so until the upcoming special party congress.

Her decision was "fair and right for me and the party," she added.

Sunday's crisis meeting come following a week of speculation and infighting related to the party's future.

As part of her resignation as party head, Sahlin will also resign her seat in the Riksdag, but continue to be active in the party.

She offered no comment as to who may succeed her.

"But I don't think everyone should be replaced," she said.

Party secretary Ibrahim Baylan said he regretted that Sahlin had decided to step down.

Green Party spokesperson Peter Eriksson said that Mona Sahlin did not really have a choice:

"As the situation has developed it was presumably a necessary step that she decided to resign."

He maintains that Sahlin has been a good colleague and coalition partner.

Peter Esaiasson, a professor in political science, is surprised over the confirmation that Mona Sahlin will not continue as party leader. He said that at the moment there is chaos in the party.

"This is like nothing the party has been through before."

Story continues below…

Academic colleague and Social Democrat Ulf Bjereld argued that the decision is hardly a surprise.

"It means that the party enters a leaderless situation.

He believes that an incredible battle for the leadership of the party is to be expected and that politics is set to take a backseat.

The Social Democratic districts will now have ten days to nominate names to the election committee. It will be appointed on December 4th with the extra party congress to be held in the last week in March.

At 5.10pm Mona Sahlin jumped into a security police vehicle and was driven from the Social Democrat headquarters on Sveavägen in central Stockholm.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

19:07 November 14, 2010 by BERTRAM
19:18 November 14, 2010 by NickM
This is a chance for the Social Democrats to move back to the left and recapture lost voters instead of copying the Alliance all the time. Bet you anything they move further right though i.e. Blair under New Labour.
19:38 November 14, 2010 by Nomark
NickM - the electorate has moved to the right. Shifting the party to the left would be an attempt to defy political gravity. There were many reasons they lost the election - not being left wing enough was not one of them. The Sweden of the 1970s and the 1980s is no more. The Social Democrats need to realise this.

Furthermore, such a move would run the risk of further polarising the major parties such that those who pay the taxes would support one party and tax-recipients the other. This would be dangerous.
20:58 November 14, 2010 by TheOriginalBlackMan
Sweden is already a dystopia willingly following America's foot steps towards a facist police state (cameras every where

). Sweden's as well as the entire European politcal organization (England, Netherlands, Greece, etc.) are all learching towards a destiny that would make Hitler proud, or not.
21:24 November 14, 2010 by MC7669
I am not sad........ the question now is who will replace the "Madame"
22:46 November 14, 2010 by McChatter
Sorry to see Moaner go. I had hoped that she would stay on until 2014 so that Reinfeld could beat her again. But typical that she leaves her party in chaos. Have noticed that she is also quitting the Riksdag. She is voluntarily leaving her job. Does this mean that she can't claim unemployment benefit? Maybe she can now get a job selling Toblerone.

@#4 TOBM

What on earth has Hitler to do with Sahlin? Keep taking your pills, laddie.
00:49 November 15, 2010 by Tanskalainen
Perhaps now she will have time for an industrial-strength make over.
01:00 November 15, 2010 by wenddiver

That is exactly what I was thinking. Whoever dies that hair jet black makes her look a million years old!! Chin job would be a good idea, too. What the hell, take the year off and go to California for lots of plastic surgery and lipo-suction.

Leave that tar like mascara in Sweden, when you do. Nothing a $100,000 and some Jewish surgeons can't fix. Might want to burn your clothes though.
01:12 November 15, 2010 by NickM
@Nomark, Wrong, the electorate has not moved to the right. They do not want more privatisation of public services, cuts in public funding, increased inequality and poverty and serious attacks on labour market legislation. But the Social Democrats have failed them on all these issues.
01:54 November 15, 2010 by Syftfel
Good. What took her so long? The woman should now take a well deserved vacation(but not at tax payer's expense!) . I hear the beaches in North Korea are too cold this time of the year. But maybe her gumbah di cheeches in Havana or Caracas can offer some quality time in their socialist, proletarian paradises. With any luck she'll relocate there permanently. Let the red flags fly!!
03:31 November 15, 2010 by DavidtheNorseman

I think you're right. I don't recall Sahlin doing anything other than being critical and complaining. She certainly didn't project someone with any ideas about how to resolve real problems - or let's be realistic, even acknowledge many of the more serious problems existed.
08:48 November 15, 2010 by RobinHood
The Social Democrats still have some house cleaning to do. The rest of the senior party leadership should go this week too.

Then the survivors are going to have to make a decision. Do they try and lure back all that support they lost to the Moderates, by adopting policies more in line with what modern Swedes want from their government? Or do they continue their drift to the left, renew allegiences with the Communists and Greens, and sustain the socialist dogma and claptrap so clearly rejected by the electorate a few weeks ago?

They should choose the former. Sweden was a one party state for much too long. A monopoly on power is never a good thing. If the Social Democrats continue with their dismal leftwards divergance from what Swedes want, who will provide a viable alternative to the Moderates?
08:49 November 15, 2010 by calebian22
I guess the stock photo is in honor of Thanksgiving? Gobble, Gobble!

Anyway, bad news for the Alliance. With Mona in charge of S, it was a guarantee of the middle right staying in power.
12:26 November 15, 2010 by samwise
she is smart, now she doesn't have to answer the question to all the bleeding heart socialists: where do you find the money to fund the welfare system?

When there is a young labor pool and only a few are collecting pensions, it seems fine. As Margaret Thatcher says: eventually they'll run out of other people's money.

Parties should stick with their core ideas, it's just not all ideas are equally valid.

Social democrats are in a difficult time, they are less attractive to the feel-good kids than the greens, less attractive to the hardcore commies than the left, less attractive to the nationalists than the sweden democrats. They are supposed to love diversity, aren't they?
13:05 November 15, 2010 by Alf Garnett
@theoriginalblackman #4 Cameras everywhere in Sweden? you've been seeing things, or do you mean speed cameras'?

The UK have lots of cameras, placed usually in trouble hotspots like busy town centres' how does this make it a fascist regime? The cameras are there primarily to protect the public & identify criminals. If you're doing nothing illegal then the cameras are of no concern.

It really is a shame that there are not more cameras in Sweden especially on railway stations & outside clubs, would probably reduce crime.
13:07 November 15, 2010 by Nomark
@NickM - the Social Democrats may not have been left wing enough for you, for too many they were too left wing, not least since they entered into a formal alliance with the leftwing loony tunes party.

Where did the left-wing voters that you bang on about go ? its not as if there was a huge stay-away vote, as in the UK. Its unlikely that a voter who was p*ssed off with the sossars for not being left-wing went on to vote for the Moderates. Sure, they lost votes to the racist loony tunes party, but so did the right-of-centre parties.

Although its hard for many to understand, elections are won on the centre ground. The worst thing that the sossars can do is reinvent themselves into NickM's ideologically pure and wholly unelectable party.
15:56 November 15, 2010 by NickM
@Nomark, The Social Democrats certainly weren't punished for being "too left wing". They were punished for at least 20 years of attack on working Swedes through the embrace of privitisation, neoliberalism and deregulation.

Where is the "center ground" you talk of? What's centrist about privatisation of public services, cuts in public funding, increased inequality and poverty and serious attacks on labour market legislation. They are distinctly right wing policies.

The reason why Swede's switched to the Alliance isn't complicated. Elections are marketing campaigns nowadays. Like brand Obama and Blair's "New" Labour, Reinfeld's "Nyt" Moderatana has been re-branded as a party of working people despite policy to the contrary. The corporate liberal media have accepted this virtually without comment and so there's no public debate on it. The big parties get the most media coverage and advertising because they can afford it and so their message is the only one constantly rammed down voters throats. That's the way modern democracies work. Swede's were desperate for an alternative to the failures of the social democrats - the Alliance was the one best marketed to them.

Like New Labour though, it will all prove an illusion and as the Social Democrats rebrand themselves and move even further right, voters will end up spending the next 20 years oscillating between the two parties still desperately seeking answers as their social situation gets worse.
16:44 November 15, 2010 by Nomark
@NickM :

FIrst, whenever anyone says a shift in a nation's politics "isn't complicated" I tend to groan since they're usually talking out of their arses. Everything in life is complicated. If you think otherwise then you're deceiving yourself.

Second, since you have a bit of difficuly with definitions, centre ground is defined as the bit between what the core voters of the right-of-centre parties and those of the left-of-centre voters want at any given time. It isn't a static definition. The issues which concern voters change with time and circumstances.

I note that you still didn't explain where the left wing voters went to at this election - after all you want the sossars to go in a left direction, which you think would be an election winning strategy. There was after all a very high turn-out. A left-wing voter was hardly likely to vote for the Moderates just because the left wing parties weren't sufficiently left wing for them.

Perhaps you should believe the one opinion poll that counts i.e. the election result rather than the stacks of opinion polls you use to justify your arguments about what Swedes apparently want. Also, you should quit the arrogance that implies that only you and people like you can see through the media and that the rest are easily led sheep. Those who think others are easily fooled are often the easiest to fool IMO.
19:35 November 15, 2010 by NickM
@Nomark, There's nothing complicated - the Social Democrats have steadily sold out Swedish voters over the past 20 years and they deserved to get punished at the election. Working Swede's that would normally vote for a Left leaning party, wanted answers to why working conditions, job security, public spending and quality of life in general is going down. And who takes the blame when people feel economically insecure? Immigrants. And center-right parties capitalized on this. Think back to Hitler's Germany if I'm not being "complicated" enough for you.

That's not a victory for the "center ground" as you say. That's a quite predictable public reaction to the failures of the Social Democrats. If the Social Democrats actually started being social democrats again and started pursuing policies that are in the general public's interest as well as have the balls to at least talk about immigration openly, they have a much better chance of winning back disillusioned voters.
23:00 November 15, 2010 by Nomark
NickM - You go from being oversimplistic to Godwin's law in one post .... This is impressive.

To recap - you state that left-wing policies are attractive to Swedes despite the electoral evidence suggesting otherwise. I ask you to explain where the left-leaning voters went. You then tell me that the sossars were being punished. Ok, its clearly very clever for a left-leaning person to punish a left-wing party by voting for another party with which they fundamentally disagree. Its even cleverer to do it for two successive elections. That's quite a punishment they've been carrying out...

There is something in your logic which doesn't really hang together...
07:27 November 16, 2010 by Alf Garnett
Left leaning Swedes? that must be the oldies (from the neo communist era), the usual brain-washed student & the unemployed (usually the unemployed that will not be employed). The sosso started losing the voters in the late 1990's, their anti-home-owner politics & wealth taxes (which affected the normal Svensson), open door immigration & refugee politics, lack of an integration policy & then their unification to the 2 loony left parties lit the touch paper.

Don't blame only Mona, this downtrend started long before she had any influence, the electorate have tired of the extravagance of the sosso politics, casting money here there & everywhere instead of sorting out the mess they've made at home.
09:18 November 17, 2010 by J Jack
thank God the commies are out to lunch.
12:19 November 18, 2010 by NickM
NoMark, You seem to think that Swedes want more and more privatization, fewer labour rights and increasing inequality and I don't so we'll just have to agree to disagree. By the way, Godwin's law - I do think we should learn from the lessons of history, don't you?
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