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L'affair Juholt

by A swedish kind of death Fri Oct 14th, 2011 at 04:42:17 PM EST

Right now, an interesting crisis is developing in Sweden's old power party, the Social Democratic party. I am not certain where it is heading. This was the case when I started writing this morning, now it is pretty clear.

On the surface it is about the party leader Juholt and a to high expense report as a parliamentarian, but that does not appear to be the real issue.

Below the fold follows the key elements.


New party leader or Who the beep is Juholt
Mona Sahlin lost the parliament election a year ago, and was then forced to resign making her the second Swedish soc-dem party leader ever not to become prime minister (first was Claes Emil Tholin and he resigned in 1907). After she resigned she wrote an article about how they would have won had only the party let her run more to the right as she wanted to.

The process to get a new party leader was very secretive with no declared candidates until the election comittee had proposed one, then they had one.

There was of course lots of campaigning under the surface but it was really hard to make sense of.

There was no natural choice, the former Persson ministers were either out of parliament, uninterested or unelectable. Persson liked to surround himself with ministers who had a weak backing in the party, so that he could not easily be overthrown. There was a lot of speculation, and when in the end the election comittee proposed Håkan Juholt the media reaction was: Who?

Juholt was not from the party inner circle in Stockholm, in fact he is from Kalmar in east Småland. He was seen as being to he left of the Stockholm gang (though so is most of the rest of the party). And he does not look slick either:

He did however come off to a good start this summer and introduced a bit of humor in an otherwise pretty stiff political debate. His rethoric is a bit to the left of Sahlin's but words are cheap.

Go right or left?
If Juholt is anything but slick and from Stockholm, the new economical-political spokesman (in effect the oppositions candidate for finance minister) Waidelich is both:


(That is his official picture from the parliament homepage, not me trying to make him look evil.)

I figure this was some sort of compromise.

Late September, the soc-dem motion on the budget was debate within the soc-dem parliament group. Apparently, the one Waidelich (with Juholt's approval) had drafted went right and abandoned some of election planks like higher unemployment benefits. In effect, a turn to the right. The parliament group balked at this and sent it back.

L'affair Juholt
The seventh of October Aftonbladet (nominally socialist, owned by conservative Norwegian media-family Schibstedt) accused Juholt. Wikipedia has the details:

Juholtaffären - Wikipedia Juholtaffären - Wikipedia
  • Den 7 oktober 2011 påstod kvällstidningen Aftonbladet att Håkan Juholt har sedan 2007 fått ersättning för hans och sambons hela bostadshyra och att det stred mot riksdagens regelverk.[7] Dessa uppgifter har ifrågasatts i efterhand av Juholts juridiska ombud Hans Strandberg, som påpekar att det inte fanns några regler om hur hyran skulle ersättas om bostaden delas med någon annan person.
  • On October 7, 2011 claimed evening paper Aftonbladet that Hakan Juholt has since 2007 been compensation for his and her partner throughout housing rent and that it was contrary to parliamentary rules. [7] This data has been questioned retrospectively by Juholt legal counsel Hans Strandberg, who points out that there were no rules on how the rent would be replaced if the dwelling is shared with another person.
Under förmiddagen samma dag höll Håkan Juholt i en presskonferens om Aftonbladets påstående. Juholt sade att han inte kände till regelverket, och medgav att han hade gjort fel.[8] Senare under samma kväll beslutade sig Riksenheten mot korruption för att undersöka om Juholt har fått felaktiga bostadsersättningar eller inte.[9]During the morning the day was Hakan Juholt in a press conference on Aftonbladet's claim. Juholt said he did not know the rules, and admitted that he had done wrong. [8] Later that evening decided National Unit against Corruption to investigate whether Juholt has been wrongly mortgage payments or not. [9]

After this has followed a steady drip of accusations and anonymous claims from "high-ranking soc-dems" that Juholt is about to step down. A couple of days after each accusation it has been debunked by bloggers. To take the original claim, bloggers found the form that lacked anywhere to write anything about sharing the dwelling and bloggers got the rent bills he had handed in with the form that clearly stated that the apartment was shared.

A rumour printed in the press that he claimed to much money on a foreign trip turned out to be that he had handed in a form saying he hoped to stay ten days with the Belorussian opposition but he was not sure if that would be allowed by the Belorussian authorities. He did drive there with a car full of pamphlets but was not allowed to stay the full 10 days. The cost of the trip was 11 000 sek, or about 1 200 euros. By now I am half expecting a claim of too high travel expense on two trips between Stockholm and Kalmar (out of hundreds) to be that he stopped to work in a homeless shelter on the way.

Today the formal accusations was dropped and the executive board of the soc-dems gave Juholt their vote of approval. Thus this appears to be over.

Analysis
So what to make of this?

My take is that the election of Juholt was not accepted in the party elite that has been taking the party rightwards for two decades. This does not mean that Juholt is necessary left (though party insider Daniel Suhonen thinks so), it could just as well be that he was an outsider.

The trigger appears to be the budget motion, which could support the theory that it is about Juholt being left wing, but then again from the leaks he appears to have been on the right in that conflict.

The media checked nothing and published every rumour. Part is probably lazy journalism, part piling on the soc-dems from the right-wing dominated papers.

What will happen?
this is the really interesting part. If as I think this was a failed coup by the Stockhom centered party right, it could turn good, Juholt can either make peace with them by moving to the right or try to get them out of power by replacing them with party left. The second option is more in line with the party organisations tradition, if you go against the party leader and loose you are out in the cold. But then, who knows?

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European Tribune - Comments - The Juholt crisis
There was no natural choice, the former Persson ministers were either out of parliament, uninterested or unelectable.

Thomas Östros

and Pär Nuder:

were in the last cathegory. They were former ministers, they were in parliament, they wanted to be party leader but they have the charisma of a stone and a more boring stone. Which I suspect is why Persson liked them.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Oct 14th, 2011 at 05:23:01 PM EST
Changed the name. "L'affair Juholt" has a more european flavour. And it is how we name these things in Swedish Juholtaffären.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Fri Oct 14th, 2011 at 05:25:08 PM EST
From The Local (from an article I don't trust):

Swedish parties, like many Swedish organisations, are wary of internal competition for leadership positions. When a vacancy arises, the task of filling it is thus usually delegated to a selection committee (valberedning), which, having conferred and consulted, will frequently recommend only a single candidate for broader confirmation.

If that's how it is done; it's bullshit.  "Conferring and consulting," to me, gives the Stockholm apparatchiks way too much power and control over the process, is a throughly undemocratic procedure, is almost a guarantee of cronyism, and shuts-out the majority of the SD membership.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Fri Oct 14th, 2011 at 06:53:55 PM EST
That is the way it is done, and more so in the soc-dems then in other parties, though most parties has similar systems (the greens being the most open I think, they are also the only party with fixed limits on party leader terms). Exactly how the conferring and consulting is done is beyond my knowledge, though I think there are pretty strict forms. The districts at some point makes their preferences known publicly.

It is clearly a system that can be gamed, but in this case it appears to have been gamed against the will of the Stockholm apparatchiks.

Hopefully this affair will give the soc-dems (abreviated SAP btw) some impulse to change their system when it comes to elect a party leader.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sat Oct 15th, 2011 at 02:42:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ack the "proper abbreviation."  

I know that but, alas, 'Twas a brain fart at the time of scribbling.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Oct 15th, 2011 at 02:55:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mona Sahlin lost the parliament election a year ago, and was then forced to resign making her the second Swedish soc-dem party leader ever not to become party leader prime minister.

By the way, I agree that Juholt got a good start, but he waffled badly on Libya and looked like he knew nothing about defence and security policy, and even worse, he kept changing his mind and message all the time. This is especially noteworthy as he's been the chairman or vice chairman of the parliamentary committee on defense for the last 10 or 15 years, so this is the one thing he really should be good at. However, given the fact that the Swedish armed forces have self-destructed in the last 10-15 years, maybe one shouldn't be surprised at Juholts ineptitude. He's after all been the main guy in parliament overseeing the self-destruction.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sat Oct 15th, 2011 at 11:20:48 AM EST
The only realistic solution to Sweden's Defense is a 'Northern Defense Alliance.'  Given the on-going revolution in military technology Sweden cannot afford to pay tens of billions of krona for weapon systems that will be obsolete in five years.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sat Oct 15th, 2011 at 02:40:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sweden tried for one in the 50ies but Finland couldn't and Norway, Denmark and Iceland wouldn't but instead joined NATO.

Right now the policy is to send some troops abroad and in general hope that there will be no conflicts here as there are no other troops. Oh, and use the troops abroad to market the military industry's latest gadgets, so that they can be sold - with just a little bribes - all over the world.

Actually, given the result of the war in Iraq, I think Swedens old defense policy of having enough defense and preparation for gerilla warfare to make the attack on and occupation of Sweden unprofitable for an attacker, could very well work. It also has the advantage that we would not need to have the best in weapons, as long as it is enough to deter.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sat Oct 15th, 2011 at 02:50:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wikipedia:
Finland is the only non-NATO EU country bordering Russia. Finland's official policy states that the 350,000 reservists with mostly ground weaponry are a sufficient deterrent. The army consists of a highly mobile field army backed up by local defence units. The army defends the national territory and its military strategy employs the use of the heavily forested terrain and numerous lakes to wear down an aggressor, instead of attempting to hold the attacking army on the frontier.

Finland's defence budget equals about 2 billion euro or 1.4-1.6 percent of the GDP. The voluntary overseas service is highly popular and troops serve around the world in UN, NATO and EU missions. Homeland defence willingness stands at around 80%, one of the highest rates in Europe.

Up until today, almost every male has spent around a year as a conscript, having basic military training and then a specialization (artillery, intelligence, marines, coastguard etc). But there are changes ahead.

Quite a few otherwise peaceful media colleagues, who became officers under conscription, disappear for a week or so each year for territorial reserve training. And it appears that the friendships formed during conscription are often lifelong.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Oct 15th, 2011 at 03:12:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sweden and Finland have an "agreement" - don't know how formal it all is - that Sweden will come to the aid of Finland "to the extent necessary" (if I recall the wording right) should Finland be attacked by "an outside aggressor."  (Read: Russia)

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sat Oct 15th, 2011 at 04:02:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Finnish secretary of defense has been grumbling in the media for the last few years that it's not really fair that not only does Finland need to defend Finland - it has to defend Sweden as well, as Sweden has zero capability for national defence, at the moment. Our entire armed forces have been reshaped into being a very expensive colonial police auxilia to the US armed forces, just when the US finds out that it can't keep financing those small wars no more. That fits very well with the unofficial motto of the Swedish armed forces - Sist med det senaste! (last with the latest (fad)).

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sat Oct 15th, 2011 at 07:02:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The old policy was quite markedly different from that. It was, since the ÖB plan of 1947 as follows: maintain a strong airforce to shield NATO from the reds (Sweden is half the NATO-Warsaw pact front, lengthwise) and prevent/delay/weaken a seaborne invasion until all naval strike assets are spent. Then, fight bitter rearguard actions on all fronts, giving them up eventually, until only the corridor Stockholm-Gothenburg remains. Keep fighting for time and this critical area until the US Marines land in Gothenburg (and possibly in Trondheim/Narvik), when the counterattack begins.  

This was spelt out very clearly in planning documents until the early/mid 60's, after which the planning was kept secret for reasons of political correctness. Still, anyone with a map could figure out what the plan was. There's an astounding amount of operational planning out there, like how our only cruisers for some strange reason in the event of war would keep the SLOC's between Britain and Trondheim open, staff exercises with the US Marines parachuting over Kiruna, our airfields were strengthened to receive heavy NATO bombers, in the event of war the chief of the navy would immediately launch a government-in-exile in London or Washington, and so on ad infinitum.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sat Oct 15th, 2011 at 07:04:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We would do perfectly well with the weapons we had 10-15 years ago coupled with liberal amounts of nuclear strikes on-demand. Which is what we had (unofficially) 10-15 years ago.

The problem with a northern defence alliance of some kind is that a) only security black-hole Sweden would be interested and b) there'd be no nukes involved.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sat Oct 15th, 2011 at 06:57:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Then Sweden needs to Get Real about military planning and policy.  

It's a nasty world out there and over the coming years it's going to get nastier.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Oct 15th, 2011 at 09:27:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Starvid:
Mona Sahlin lost the parliament election a year ago, and was then forced to resign making her the second Swedish soc-dem party leader ever not to become party leader prime minister.

Thanks, corrected.

I agree that he waffled on Libya and the soc-dem conterproposal of sending boats made little sense. To me, it rang of something a liberal politician mentioned: the soc-dems are so used to hold power that they are very bad at being oppostition. The government needs to come up with workable solutions, the oppositions need to come up with ideological alternatives. The soc-dems could have opposed the idea of sending military into Libya, or they could have supported it and for good measure suggested sending more then the government could afford. But first sending panes, and then sending boats instead of planes made no sense.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sat Oct 15th, 2011 at 02:57:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The government needs to come up with workable solutions, the oppositions need to come up with ideological alternatives. The soc-dems...

...believe they have to play the "responsible opposition" role, partly because they believe that makes them appear more serious and makes them more likely to gain power at the next turn.

Economics is politics by other means

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Oct 16th, 2011 at 04:41:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which is probably true. But that doesn't mean there isn't any room for some healthy leftwing populism like against failed deregulations, big healthcare and school corporations stashing away their profits in the Bermudas, and so on. As long as it doesn't turn into class-based rhetoric, which has been an election loser in Sweden since the 30's.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sun Oct 16th, 2011 at 07:16:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is this the answer to "who is Juholt" from the diary?

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Oct 16th, 2011 at 04:51:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Juholt was not from the party inner circle in Stockholm, in fact he is from Kalmar in east Småland.

He's form the children's playpen at IKEA stores?

Economics is politics by other means

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Oct 16th, 2011 at 04:44:21 AM EST
He's always been on the B squad, so to speak. Success in his political work has probably been measured as being quoted in a rural newspaper. That he chaired the defence committee for so long says it all, as it is considered one of the least prestigious committees there is. That he even got a shot at leadership is because Göran Persson in true Machiavellian fashion had purged most competent people from leadership positions.

But he is a really good speaker. The problem is that he is extremely spontaneuous as well. He has no experience of having his every word measured on golden scales, discussed in national media, disected by political bloggers and so on. An apt comparision is that of a walking bomb. Sooner or later he's gonna blow, and either destroy the rightwing government, the social democrats, or himself. He almost got himself this time, and going forward, he'll likely get very controlling handlers.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sun Oct 16th, 2011 at 07:10:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Very controlling handlers" hardly ever works.

Neither does letting him shoot his mouth off.

They need to teach the guy modern communication skills and, to steal a phrase, let Juholt be Juholt.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Oct 16th, 2011 at 01:56:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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