Ohly affirms plans to stay on as Left Party leader

Despite a growing chorus of criticism from within his party, Left Party leader Lars Ohly reaffirmed his plans to continue at the helm beyond the party’s 2012 congress.

Ohly affirms plans to stay on as Left Party leader

“I haven’t stepped forward in the belief that I’m going to lose a party leader election to someone else. Rather, I’m running with the continued conviction that my chances of being elected are quite good. That hasn’t changed,” Ohly told the TT news agency on Thursday.

The comments came following reports that growing number of prominent Left Party members felt that Ohly should step down after the Left Party’s 2012 congress.

“He’s been there quite a long time now and it hasn’t gone so well. We need to review everything, including the party leadership. We need new leadership,” Wiwi-Anne Johansson, a Left Party MP who has represented Bohuslän in western Sweden since 2006, told TT.

“We never going to recover from him having been called a communist; he offends to many.”

Earlier on Thursday, Left Party MP Jonas Sjöstedt said we was considering running as a candidate for party leader when the Left Party holds its next congress in 2012, but only if Ohly were to step aside.

“If Lars Ohly runs, I won’t. But he chooses to step back, then I’m ready, if I feel that I have the support. But that’s not a given, there are many solid names out there,” Sjöstedt told TT.

Ohly welcomed internal discussions about who should lead the party.

“It’s good that we have an open discussion about both policies and people. Unlike some other parties, we have no problems with that in the Left Party,” he said.

Ohly added that the party has often had several candidates run for party leader.

“It’s been that way in three of the four times I’ve been elected and don’t see any problems with it being that way at the next congress,” he said.

According to Sjöstedt, Ohly’s announcement that he plans to run for re-election as party leader hasn’t stifled further discussions about the party’s policies and who is best suited to lead it.

He even hinted he was open to the Left Party leadership post shared between two people.

“I think we should think about it. As a feminist party, it’s important to have a woman at the top as well,” he said.

Previously, representatives for the party from Dalarna in central Sweden have said that Ohly shouldn’t continue to lead the party after the 2012 annual congress, which Ohly has said he wants to do.

According to district chair Lena Olsson, Ohly’s decision has put a damper on internal discussions about the party’s future.

On Wednesday, two other Left Party MPs, Kent Persson from Västmanland and Jens Holm from Stockholm also said that they want to see new party leadership.

With Ohly’s reaffirmation of his plans to remain party leader, the question now is why he thinks he can do better following two election losses.

“Firstly, I think that I’m considerably better and more experienced now as a party leader; I’m getting better and better. Obviously, there is a point in time when you don’t get any better, but I haven’t reached it yet,” he said.

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