“I don’t feel let down at all or that I haven’t been stood up for,” Sahlin said on the day after she had announced her resignation in dramatic fashion.
Sahlin is the party’s first female leader. The first female to step foot into an office where every prior occupant had been a male and every attribute of power had been built up by a man, she said. But she was unwilling to speculate as the role that this played in the recent turbulence in a party long known for stability.
“I am a woman, the first female party leader for 120 years, of course this has been a factor, both for why I have been so appreciated among some and so controversial among others. But it was not why I resigned, because I was the target of some sort of campaign within the party. Absolutely not,” Sahlin said.
She is happy that the party has finally recognised the crisis that it is in.
“It has been turbulent days for the party. But one can also say that – finally – insight of the crisis is serious within social democracy. This I, and others, should have been better at allowing the party feel a lot earlier and not just after this election loss,” said Sahlin in a break in the Socialist International’s ongoing meeting in Paris.
Mona Sahlin arrived at the meeting shortly before lunch. She reiterated that a change in leadership is good for the party.
“It is not the people, it is the politics, which voters in several consecutive elections have rejected and where the need for renewal is great. It is my considered opinion that people have to have their mandates put to the test, because otherwise we can’t make the major changes, of which I am convinced that the party requires,” said Sahlin.
Sahlin was unwilling to answer the question as to why she felt unable to renew the party.
Mona Sahlin’s will remain in the role as party leader until the Social Democrat party’s extra congress in March, when her replacement will be elected and she will leave parliament.
A career politician, Sahlin has not decided on her plans for life after political office, although confirmed that she has already received a couple of job offers.
“A have received one or two, more or less serious,” she said. “But this is nothing I am going to even think about until the congress in March.”
Sahlin will in December present her view on how she thinks the party can be revitalised, but ruled out that this would include a shared leadership.
“That I don’t believe in. I have heard no one in the party name the word,” she said.
Sahlin rejected information that people within the party leadership had pushed her not to stand for reelection.
“There have been some strange things in the media, such as that on Saturday I was encouraged to resign. On Saturday I was at the gym, then I was at the cinema and then I went to get a hair cut. I had no talks with anyone on Saturday,” she said.
As the hunt for the Social Democrats’ new leader continues, two heavyweight contenders – Margot Wallström and Thomas Bodström – both ruled themselves out of the post.
Wallström is rumoured to be focusing her energies on becoming the first female head of the United Nations, and Bodström is currently living with his family in the USA.
Both within and outside of the party a slew of names are being raised as possible candidates. Former Riksdag speaker Björn von Sydow would like to see chair of the IF Metall union, Stefan Löfven. Mihael Damberg, currently chairperson of the party’s Stockholm district, is also a popular name.
Bookkeepers Ladbrokes meanwhile have Sven-Erik Österberg, the party’s Riksdagen group leader, as its favourite to succeed Mona Sahlin, at odds of 3.25 to one.