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Social Democrats call time on 'self-torture'

TT/The Local/pvs · 15 Feb 2011, 10:03

Published: 15 Feb 2011 10:03 GMT+01:00

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Voters have lost confidence in the Social Democrats, which has become introspective and "smug," according to the party's own crisis commission which published its conclusions in a report on Tuesday.

"We have been a bit smug and cocky," said crisis commission president Anna Johansson in connection with the presentation of the report to Ibrahim Baylan on Tuesday.

Baylan welcomed the report, arguing that the time had come to put an end to the process of "self-torture" that has gripped the party since its crushing loss in the September 2010 general election.

"In the beginning of April, we have to develop a new programme for the Social Democrats and this report will become an important contribution," he said.

The commission severely criticised the party's policy and work in the report, singling out the voters' lack of confidence in social democracy's ability to attain full employment as one of the main reasons for the party's poor election results.

"The Social Democrats have long failed to live up to its promises of basic services for all, greater equality and greater freedom for everyone. It has created a credibility problem whose importance cannot be overstated," the report read.

The Social Democrats recorded their worst result since 1914 in the September election, polling 30.66 percent. The party's poll troubles have continued since then during a period of turmoil that has included the resignation of party leader Mona Sahlin.

According to the latest opinion poll by United Minds, the party is backed by only 25.6 percent of the electorate, far behind the buoyant Moderates, currently Sweden's largest party.

The period covering the crisis commission's work has been characterised by collective low-esteem, navel-gazing and a lack of internal trust, the report's authors concluded, calling for more initiative in the public discourse.

The report also concluded that Red-Green cooperation ahead of the 2010 elections led to a blurring of the party's profile, resulting in difficulty for the voters, both party members and others, to determine the main pillars of Social Democrat policy.

"Our problem in recent years has been an inability to describe reality correctly," said Anna Johansson, co-chair of the commission and the mayor of Gothenburg.

Johansson argued that the image of the Social Democrats as a conceited and smug party dates back to the 2006 election, when the unemployment issue was not given the correct attention it deserved.

"I think it was a huge mistake to ignore the people outside of the labour market," she said.

In connection with the presentation of the report, a series of proposed policies for investments were outlined and tax increases have not been not ruled out.

"We identify the need to spend money on railways. The quality of schools is not sufficient. We have health insurance that is really awful and also an unemployment insurance that is really awful," said Johansson.

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"If you are going to have a sound society for all people, it costs money. Growth will meet a number of these ambitions, but we can not rule out tax increases - it would be politically irresponsible," she added.

The commission also argued that the current caps on health and unemployment insurance should be removed, allowing more people to be included under the systems.

The report also raise the prospect of punishing private schools which extract large profits from their businesses.

The over-arching goal of Social Democratic police should be the push for full employment, Johansson underlined.

To achieve this goal, the report recommends massive investments in infrastructure and the construction of homes where the jobs are, but also measures such as subsidised placements and extra training for groups excluded from the labour market.

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

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Your comments about this article

13:15 February 15, 2011 by Zala Russe
Oh dear. Sounds like trotting out of same old 'tax and spend' policies. This kind of economic engineering is necessary for coping with deep crises. Instead, the Social Democrats should be hammering out expansion policies that aggressively secure trade and prosperity on a 'Sweden First' basis, and capitalise on the inherent weaknesses in many of the EU puppet member economies.
13:24 February 15, 2011 by apelsin000
They are kind of people always know where the thunder is...
13:53 February 15, 2011 by Kevin Harris
Tax rises, jobs for all, spend money everywhere, envy of the rich. The Social Democrats big new plan looks rather similar to their big old plan. It's not just "self torture", they want to torture everyone else too. Isn't there a bright young Social Democrat out there who knows how to make this sad old party electable? This is your moment.
13:53 February 15, 2011 by McChatter
So what's new, Mrs. Johansson? Still pushing for 100% employment? That's Utopia and certainly with the Swedish unemployment insurance, where you can stop working and still get paid (only then by the State). Why not make it a compulsory national system? Only for people made redundant. If you voluntarily quit your job, no handout. Look for another job real quick. You should have done that first!

Curb the powers of the unions. Then you talking employees' language. The socialists have too long been seen as the party for the people on welfare. And not for the workers, 'cause they vote Moderate nowadays! If the socialists want success, they will have to take a long look at the future. Start looking at reality.
15:09 February 15, 2011 by eltechno
The problem with the Social Democrats is that like the Democrats in USA, they abandoned progressive economics for the neoliberal variety in the late 1970s. Once that happened, they became utterly useless to the working people they claimed to represent. But since they didn't go out of business, they became the party of political correctness and annoy your neighbor. If this article is representative of current Soci thinking, they still don't understand what went wrong. They should do even worse in the next election.
22:56 February 15, 2011 by miss79
ur right Mochatter...the socialist have been too long for the people who lives on welfare but now things are getting worst in sweden..rising of unemployment year by year, Swedish Nazi in the parliment,economic crisis with things getting expensive, suicide bombing in stockholm-like wat u said START LOOKING AT REALITY...
23:48 February 15, 2011 by loudasthunder
SD You're blowing a good thing man.

Sometimes You just have to DIY : )
19:35 February 16, 2011 by buschmann
The social democrats will never change their ways, so lets hope they become an insignificant party.
11:22 February 21, 2011 by HYBRED
It sounds like the Social Democrats are trying to win people back with sympathy, rather than a game plan with substance for the future.

Just crying and whinning over spilled milk.
20:13 March 4, 2011 by munched
Who was in power when all those schools and hospitals closed in the 90's? SD. As for welfare, the daily benefit was dropped every year for the last fifteen years they were in power. Keeping pace I might add with the pay raises they voted themselves in parliment. Who were they actually helping besides themselves? More of that? No Thanks.
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