‘God only knows’ what could have been: Juholt

Recently departed Social Democrat head Håkan Juholt said his inability to quickly put together a solid staff was one of his three biggest regrets from his ten-month tenure as head of the party.

'God only knows' what could have been: Juholt

In an interview with the local Östran/Nyheterna newspaper hours before he announced his decision to step down as leader of the Social Democrats on Saturday, Juholt explained that he has been too late in surrounding himself with a team of dependable people.

“That sort of stability makes me better, and helps me avoid mistakes and be more prepared, I needed that sort of staff earlier,” he told the newspaper.

He wished as well that he had been more forceful in defending his decision not to participate in a televised party leaders debate on Sveriges Television after being placed beside Sweden Democrat head Jimmie Åkesson, especially since Juholt believes debating is one of his strong points.

His third mistake stems from the housing allowance scandal that emerged last spring shortly after he took over as party leader whereby tax payer money went to defray the rent of his girlfriend’s Stockholm-area apartment.

Click here for a photo gallery of what Stockholm residents are saying about Håkan Juholt’s resignation

“I regret that we, or I, didn’t just take the lift down to whoever was responsible and said, ‘fix this’,” he told the newspaper.

“Clearly I’m upset that we, or I, didn’t deal with it right away. God only knows what would have happened, how history would have been written if I’d seen to it that we got a clear ruling.”

Juholt said he has “no thoughts whatsoever” about how will succeed him after his record-short tenure as Social Democrat party leader.

He emphasized to the newspaper that the decision to step down was one he took on his own and that no one on the party’s executive committee demanded he resign.

When asked about his own future, Juholt reiterated that he remains an MP for Kalmar County and that he hasn’t had a chance to think of what he can do but hopes to “become something useful to the new leadership.”

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PM: Social Democrats could decide on Nato on May 15th

Sweden's Prime Minister has said that her party has brought forward the date for a decision on Nato membership by ten days, meaning a decision could be in place before a state visit by Finland's president in mid-May.

PM: Social Democrats could decide on Nato on May 15th

The decision had previously been tabled for a meeting of the party board on May 24th, but could now be taken at an extra meeting of the Social Democrats ruling committee on May 15th, Magdalena Andersson said at a press conference on Thursday. 

“We will of course discuss the issue and then we can see if we feel ready to take a decision or not,” she said at a Ukraine donors’ conference in Warsaw. 

She said that the security guarantees Sweden has received from the US and Germany for the period between a possible application and full Nato membership were significant. 

“It means a lot if Sweden chooses to send in an application, that we will be safer during the period up until we become members than we otherwise would be,” she said. 

“The party committee can take a decision then,” Party secretary Tobias Baudin he told Sweden’s TT newswire of the May 15th meeting. 

The meeting will come just two days after the Swedish government’s ‘security policy analysis group’, which includes representatives from all political parties, is due to submit its own reassessment of Sweden’s security situation. 

“It depends on what the security policy dialogue shows,” Baudin says of the decision. “Right now meetings in party districts are going at full pace.” 

The May 15th meeting will take place on the Sunday before the week when Finland’s Iltalehti and Sweden’s Expressen newspaper last month reported Finland and Sweden had already decided to jointly announce a decision to join Nato.

Finland’s president, Sauli Niinistö, is due to visit Stockholm on 17th May and 18 May on a state visit, where he will be hosted by King Karl XVI Gustaf.  

The meeting of the Social Democrats’ ruling committee will come shortly after the party holds three digital members’ meetings on security policy, on May 9th, May 10th and May 12th (although these may also be brought forward). 

There is still resistance in the party’s rank and file, with at least three of the party’s powerful leagues still openly opposed to joining: 

  • The Social Democratic Women in Sweden voted last week to continue its opposition to Nato membership.
  • The Swedish Social Democratic Youth League has said it would prefer Sweden to bolster its security through the EU.
  • The Religious Social Democrats of Sweden has said that it believes the decision should not be rushed through at a time of conflict.  
  • The Social Democrat Students’ League has said that it wants to wait until it has seen the security police analysis before taking a decision. 

None of these leagues can block membership, however. It is the Social Democrats’ ruling party committee which is empowered to take the decision.