Outsider gets nod as Social Democratic leader
It appears that the Swedish Social Democratic Party’s long search for a new leader could be coming to a close. The committee appointed to submit candidates for the post settled Thursday on Håkan Juholt to replace outgoing party leader Mona Sahlin. Carin Jämtin was nominated as party chair.
Following today’s decision, Juholt will stand for party leader at the Social Democrats’ annual convention in the spring. Once an outsider for the top spot, Juholt is best known within the party as an expert on defense issues, and is generally seen as representing the party’s left wing.
Juholt says he’s confident the Social Democrats can heal their wounds in time to return to power in parliamentary elections scheduled for 2015.
“I didn’t feel like the non-socialist parties were expecting to win in 2011, so they should be feeling the pressure from a strong opposition,” says Juholt.
"The urge to move leftward was the deciding factor," Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt of the center-right Moderate party tells news agency TT. Reinfeldt calls the decision is courageous, given that the Social Democrats are one of two parties each holding some 30 percent of public support.
"The Moderates stress renewal and development with social change," says Reinfeldt, adding "Now the Social Democrats appear to be choosing a party leader who aggressively speaks against ideas of renewal."
The leader of the Left party, Lars Ohly, tells news agency TT that he welcomed the choice of Juholt. "He stands much closer to us in his views on profiting from welfare than many other Social Democrats," says Ohly.
However, the spokesperson for the Green Party, Maria Wetterstrand, tells TT that even though Juholt is seen as a little more left-leaning than Sahlin, this may make him feel he needs to move a little more right-ward, in order to keep the party's broad.
The chair of the Swedish Trade Union Confederation, Wanja Lundby-Wedin, tells TT she approves of the Committee's decision and says it feels like a new generation is taking over the party's leadership. "It's no interim solution," she says.
Sahlin tendered her resignation as party leader following the Social Democrats’ disappointing results in parliamentary elections last September.