Social Democrats meet to decide Juholt’s fate

The Social Democrats' powerful executive committee will meet at 9am on Friday, for what has been described as 'judgement day' for embattled leader Håkan Juholt.

According to a telephone survey by Sveriges Radio’s Ekot news programme, however, the majority of party districts are waiting to cast their judgement until the facts become known in the affair.

It is considered very unlikely that the executive committee (verkställande utskott – VU) will call on him to resign is considered, according to Ekot survey.

“Holding on to your hats and keeping a cool head is always to be advised in this type of process, and to not to get carried away by warlike headlines and fantastical ideas in the newspapers,” said Mats Johansson, party chair in the district of Blekinge in southern Sweden.

According to Daniel Suhonen, who is chief editor of the Social Democrat magazine Tiden, the storm engulfing Juholt is being directed by “neo-liberal” party circles in Stockholm.

Despite the fact that the first calls came from members of the party district in Katrineholm in central Sweden, Suhonen claims that it is the party districts in the capital that are seeking to oust Juholt.

“So we are facing a political storm that is just starting in the trenches that has long been a fissure in the Social Democrat party. A tradition where radical Social Democrats who depart from a purely neo-liberal agenda shall be removed,” he claimed in an article in the Svenska Dagbladet daily.

Håkan Juholt is subject to a criminal investigation into whether he knowingly spent years pocketing accommodation reimbursements he wasn’t entitled to.

When the details emerged in a report in the Aftonbladet daily on Friday, Juholt held a hastily arranged press conference in which he apologised and agreed to pay back the outstanding amount, reported to be 160,000 kronor ($23,960).

Juholt’s claims that he was unaware of the Riksdag regulations which stipulate that MPs are not allowed to claim for the full rent if they, as in Juholt’s case, share their apartment, have been the subject of intense scrutiny in recent days.

Juholt’s claims that he only found out about the irregularities a month ago have been contradicted by his assistant, Peter Cervin, and Marianne Bjernbeck at the Riksdag administration.

According to information published by the Aftonbladet daily, the Social Democrat leader was first warned in an internal audit in 2009.

In the meantime other information has emerged indicating that there may be further irregularities in expenses receipts submitted for a trips to Belarus and for rental cars.

The Riksdag has meanwhile clarified the information on its website pertaining to rental allowances in the wake of the scandal.

According to some reports on Friday there is a possibility that chief prosecutor Björn Ericson will give an indication later in the day as to whether the investigation into suspected fraud will continue or if it is closed down.

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