The Swedish Social Democratic Party’s election committee today announced that it has decided to propose to the extraordinary party congress to be held later this month that it elect Håkan Juholt as the new leader of the party. This is a rather surprising outcome of the long-winded process of finding the successor to Mona Sahlin, who announced her resignation in November, following the party’s failing to win the general election in September (and thus became the first leader of her party in a century not to become Prime Minister), as the name of Håkan Juholt only began appearing seriously as late as yesterday.
The party has generally been considered to be in a major crisis since the electoral defeat and the election committee has struggled to find a leader candidate who was both tolerable to all fractions and districts and might also be considered having a fair chance of attracting voters.
By now they were beginning to run out of time and yesterday the veteran Leif Pagrotsky, a former minister, was suggested as a compromise, but he declined to stand for election (as had several other candidates before him). After that Juholt’s name appeared and today the committee announced that he had agreed to be a candidate.
Håkan Juholt is 48 years old and has been a Member of Parliament since 1994. Several of the other candidates who have been suggested had the major drawback that they were not currently MPs and could thus not take part in parliamentary debates. Since last year’s election Juholt has been chairman of Parliament’s Defence Committee. He considers himself to be “slightly left of centre” and mentions the former Foreign Minister Sten Andersson as a political role model.
With a male party leader the party secretary will have to be a woman and the election committee proposes Carin Jämtin, a former minister and MP who was also mentioned as a possible party leader when Göran Persson resigned in 2006, but then refused to stand for election.