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Håkan Juholt survives to lead another day

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Håkan Juholt survives to lead another day
16:40 CET+01:00
The Social Democrats' executive committee (Verkställande Utskottet, VU) expressed its continued confidence in embattled party head Håkan Juholt on Friday following two days of intense meetings about his leadership.

"He's going to continue working as the head of the party," party secretary Carin Jämtin said of Juholt following the meetings on Friday afternoon.

"We're going through the deepest crisis in our party's history."

According to Jämtin, the executive committee discussed the situation for the party as well as for Sweden.

"We've had long discussions about politics, but also about leadership. We're going to take those conversations forward," she said, adding that Juholt has now returned to his home in Oskarshamn in southern Sweden to recuperate.

Earlier in the day, reports emerged that three party districts – Örebro, Sörmland and Västmanland – had called for Juholt to step down.

Other districts expressed their support, while other refused to come down on one side or the other.

On Thursday night, following the first day of meetings, many executive committee representatives said they continued to support Juholt as party leader.

While some representatives refused to speak with reporters, others were clear about their support for Juholt.

“I and the entire executive committee have confidence in Håkan Juholt,” committee member Peter Hultqvist told the Expressen newspaper.

“Now I've said it and that's enough.”

Sven-Erik Österberg pointed out that the committee would continue their meeting on Friday, while Leif Pagrotsky said he too had confidence in Juholt.

“We've talked about it the whole day, among other things. I have no other message than what I said when I came here, my confidence in him is still valid,” Pagrotsky told reporters.

Up for discussion at the meeting was exactly how Juholt had handled proposals about the a-kassa unemployment insurance programmes in the Social Democrats' shadow budget, which was presented in the autumn.

Some party insiders accused Juholt of trying to remove a proposal about raising unemployment insurance benefits, but according to the TT news agency, the executive committee ultimately accepted Juholt's version of events regarding how the suggestion was handled.

Juholt, along with the party's economic policy spokesperson Tommy Waidelich, have claimed that they never tried to remove the a-kassa proposal from the first draft of the budget.

During the meeting, however, at least one committee member, Elvy Söderström, reportedly put forward a motion for Juholt's removal as party leader, Expressen reported, citing text message exchanges with committee members during Thursday afternoon's meetings.

The leader pages of Swedish newspapers with Social Democratic leanings expressed their concern about how continued questions about Juholt's leadership have affected the party's future.

“When there is only one candidate who really no one is in agreement about, conflicts occur. Conflicts which the party lacks ways to deal with,” the local Piteå-Tidningen wrote in an unsigned editorial on Friday.

The local Västerbottens Folkblad newspaper expressed similar sentiments, concluding that the reason the Social Democrats are struggling in the polls is due to “the party's inability to discuss sensitive matters, take decisions, and then stick together.”

The national Aftonbladet newspaper (which is independent but Social Democratic), describes a crisis which encompasses much more than the question of who will lead the party.

“The key issue today isn't, 'do you have confidence in Håkan Juholt'? The key question is: 'does Swedish social democracy have confidence in itself?',” Aftonbladet wrote.

The local Arbetarbladet stated that the party's crisis is too deep to be solved by Juholt's ouster.

“What we see today is the result of a mistreatment that has resulted in a party without political direction,” the paper wrote.

As the Social Demcrats' executive committee gathered again at party headquarters on Friday morning Juholt emphasized that the question of his leadership wasn't on the agenda.

“I repeat that the meeting isn't about whether I should continue as party leader or not,” Juholt told reporters.

However, Österberg claimed that the committee would likely broach the subject of the party's leadership.

“That's what's going to be discussed,” he said ahead of Friday's meeting.

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