‘God only knows’ what could have been: Juholt

Recently departed Social Democrat head Håkan Juholt said his inability to quickly put together a solid staff was one of his three biggest regrets from his ten-month tenure as head of the party.

'God only knows' what could have been: Juholt

In an interview with the local Östran/Nyheterna newspaper hours before he announced his decision to step down as leader of the Social Democrats on Saturday, Juholt explained that he has been too late in surrounding himself with a team of dependable people.

“That sort of stability makes me better, and helps me avoid mistakes and be more prepared, I needed that sort of staff earlier,” he told the newspaper.

He wished as well that he had been more forceful in defending his decision not to participate in a televised party leaders debate on Sveriges Television after being placed beside Sweden Democrat head Jimmie Åkesson, especially since Juholt believes debating is one of his strong points.

His third mistake stems from the housing allowance scandal that emerged last spring shortly after he took over as party leader whereby tax payer money went to defray the rent of his girlfriend’s Stockholm-area apartment.

Click here for a photo gallery of what Stockholm residents are saying about Håkan Juholt’s resignation

“I regret that we, or I, didn’t just take the lift down to whoever was responsible and said, ‘fix this’,” he told the newspaper.

“Clearly I’m upset that we, or I, didn’t deal with it right away. God only knows what would have happened, how history would have been written if I’d seen to it that we got a clear ruling.”

Juholt said he has “no thoughts whatsoever” about how will succeed him after his record-short tenure as Social Democrat party leader.

He emphasized to the newspaper that the decision to step down was one he took on his own and that no one on the party’s executive committee demanded he resign.

When asked about his own future, Juholt reiterated that he remains an MP for Kalmar County and that he hasn’t had a chance to think of what he can do but hopes to “become something useful to the new leadership.”

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Social Democrat leader backs Sweden’s harsh new immigration policies

The leader of Sweden's Social Democrat opposition has backed the harsh new policies on crime and immigration included in the new government's programme, and even signalled openness to the much-criticised begging ban.

Social Democrat leader backs Sweden's harsh new immigration policies

In an interview with the Expressen newspaper, Magdalena Andersson said her party was absolutely agreed on the need for a stricter immigration policy for Sweden, going so far as to take credit for the Social Democrats for the illiberal shift. 

“There is absolutely no question that need a strict set of migration laws,” she told the Expressen newspaper, rejecting the claims of Sweden Democrat Jimmie Åkesson that the government’s new program represented a “paradigm shift in migration policy”. 

“The paradigm shift happened in 2015, and it was us who carried it out,” she said. “The big rearrangement of migration policy was carried out by us Social Democrats after the refugee crisis of 2015, with a thoroughgoing tightening up of the policy.” 


She said that her party would wait and see what “concrete proposals” the new government ended up making, but she said the Social Democrats were not in principle against even the new government’s most criticised proposal: to slash the number of UN quota refugees from around 5,000 to 900. 

“That’s something we are going to look at,” she said. “It’s been at different levels at different points of time in Sweden.” 

Rather than criticise the new government for being too extreme on migration, Andersson even attacked it for not being willing to go far enough. 

The Social Democrats’ plan to tighten up labour market migration by bringing back the system of labour market testing, she said, was stricter than the plan to increase the salary threshold proposed by Ulf Kristersson’s new government.  

When it comes to the new government’s plans to bring in much tougher punishments for a string of crimes, Andersson criticised the new government for not moving fast enough. 

“What I think is important here is that there are a completed proposals for new laws already on the table which need to be put into effect,” she said. 

She also said she was not opposed to plans for a national ban on begging. 

“We Social Democrats believe that people should have the possibility to get educated, and work so they can support themselves,” she said. “That’s something we’ve believed in all along. You shouldn’t need to stand there holding your cap in your hand.” 

“It’s already possible to bring in a ban in certain municipalities today,” she continued. “So the question is really whether this should be regulated at a national or a local level. We did not decide at out national congress that it should be regulated at a national level, but when the inquiry publishes its conclusions, we will assess the advantages and disadvantages and decide on whether we will keep our position or change.” 

Where she was critical of the new government was in its failure to discuss how it would increase the budgets for municipalities and regional governments, who she said face being forced to drive through savage cuts in real spending to schools, healthcare and elderly care if they were not prioritised in the coming budget. 

“But that’s such a tiny part of this slottsavtal (“Mansion agreement”), and the government’s policy programme suggests they’ve missed something that should really be in focus for the government,” she said, warning that citizens should be braced for dramatic fall in the quality of welfare in the coming years. 

She said her party would also campaign against the new government’s plans to scrap Sweden’s goal of spending one percent of GDP on aid, and also against the new government’s plans to make it harder to build wind energy projects.