The democratic election of one candidate

2011-03-10 Thursday
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.

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