The sad but most important news today is of course the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. We can just embrace the suffering people in our thoughts and hope for the best. And also wish that help with the rescue work will come from all parts of the world.
The domestic news were somewhat overshadowed today, but Dagens Nyheter continued their sour remarks about the candidate for leader of the opposition party. The front page was headed by:
“Juholt keeps silent about the choice of direction for S”
(S is short for Social Democrats), followed by: “Exactly what the coming party leader Håkan Juholt thinks about the future of the Social Democrats in shrouded in mystery”.
Everyone knows that a candidate cannot speak for the whole party, or reveal any of his plans as a party leader, until he is really elected (every party member has de facto the right to challenge him for the job at the convention). For those who happens to be ignorant of that elementary circumstance it is repeated by the candidate every time he is asked those questions. So DN’s purpose is of course not to inform but to cast a shadow of suspicion and conspiracy around Juholt in the most childish way.
The candidate is chosen by a democratic process within the party, and the choice reflects the will of a majority of party representatives. Those are the ones who should be asked what expectations they had when they chose Juholt. But they are history for the journalists and reporters. Now it’s Juholt who is the fair game. Ahhh, politics!!
Yesterday the election committee presented its result, and nominated a candidate to become the new chairman of the Social Democrats, a not so well known man called Håkan Juholt. He is a member of the parliament and chairman of the defense committee there. This decision has the support of the boards of the 20 plus party districts around the country. Apparently they thought that the old, well-known guys have their best days behind them, and choose this new, energetic man who is believed to position himself somewhat to the left of the mainstream within the party.
Most people here haven’t seen Juholt in action until yesterday. At the press conference he gave a vivid and positive impression and didn’t conceal his concern for the people in most need. Probably he surprised not a few with a commanding presence and swift answers. Anyway, the center-right (what we here call liberal) papers today immediately played down their readers expectations by somewhat disparaging remarks about the new candidate. This is indeed a promising sign for the Social Democrats.
The party’s former leadership had the illusion that success in elections depended on how well they could impersonate the political ideas of the bourgeoisie parties. This was called “to adjust to the mainstream line” in politics. Now the frontiers are more clearly defined and the forces ready to action. It’s spring coming!
The daily question in the newspapers here is who is going to be the next chairman of the Social Democrats, the party that once created the Swedish model and ruled the country for most part of the past century. In last years election the party lost again, and the center-right government got another four years in power. With some delay the party chairman, Mona Sahlin, finally resigned and a new one will be elected later this month.
An old tradition in the Social Democrats is that a new chairman is agreed upon through discussions and negotiations among representative bodies within the party, so that the party convention has only one candidate to vote for. This means months of speculations in media about which candidate is the hottest for the moment.
This procedure once ended in an odd way. When Ingvar Carlsson retired as chairman in 1996 there was a few possible successors, among them the eminent finance minister Göran Persson. But he emphatically announced that he wasn’t a candidate, and that the only thing he wanted was to remain finance minister. It was all very convincing and media accepted it as true. So when the day came and Persson was presented as the new candidate for chairman and prime minister, many jaws were dropped. Subsequently the journalists were fooled, and that is something they never forgive (they were challenged in their own field, which is to master in fooling others).
Anyway, the question who should be the chairman of the Social Democrats is often presented as if it was a concern for the whole country. Thus the center-right newspapers, who have an overwhelming dominance in the market for printed media, treats it almost as a national trauma when the selection procedure now meets problems. Every day old and new possible candidates are scrutinized and judged. No favorite has emerged and none of the names mentioned are exciting in any way. Some of the names are really unknown to the public, and those who are well known are intimately connected with the election failure and in many peoples opinions politically worn-out.
In the blog-world even Göran Persson’s name is mentioned again, but this time really in vain. Soon we will know, and that will probably deserve to be commented on.