By Nordstjernan Columnist Ulf Nilson, October, 2011

Sweden is gearing up for next year's elections. So far it has been a remarkably ridiculous affair, really a silly season.
First of all, the main opposition party, the Social Democrats (SD) chose a new leader to succeed Mona Sahlin, who should never have been there.
Well, if I had known who would be chosen to replace poor Mona, I would not have written what I just wrote. The new leader, Håkan Juholt, is, as far as I'm concerned, much worse. To the general public he was relatively unknown, which is certainly a minus. Besides, he looks ridiculous, at least to me. Add to that his tendency to change his line and say things that contradict earlier comments in a way that has convinced people he is an opportunist, which in Sweden, is a cardinal sin. (People generally allow you to be wrong all of the time, but not to change, for if you change it must be because you chase easy approval—because you have no true convictions.)
You could say SD chose a loser this time. At about the same time, a fairly popular entertainer, Marcus Birro, wrote a letter to the leaders of the Christian Democratic party (KD), which, as the name says, is very Christian. What the leaders thought of Birro is not known, although one may think he is nuts. In any case, TV4, where Birro has hosted a popular show, decided that a television station has no use for a party leader, no use at all. After all, how can a television station use somebody who wants to be a leading politician and at the same time comment on other politicians? A conflict of interest as good as any. So the television folks simply said, "You are out, boy. And good riddance."
To which Birro replied, “You are all idiots.”
All this, I think, shows you how small (in many senses of the word) Sweden is. There is a tendency to think that “the authorities”—whether they be the Social Democratic party's board or the people at TV4, celebrities, famous athletes or just the whole bunch of politicians—are always right. Competition is not thriving, to say the least, and most people seem proud to think not for themselves, but what others are thinking.
So, if you are a Social Democrat, Juholt MUST be good—because the other leaders chose him, right? And a man as popular as Birro must be equally qualified to lead a party as he is to lead an entertainment program, right?
In other words, open and honest competition is sneezed at. It is OK to argue a little and to vote for different parties, but in the end we should all come together to think the same.
Sometimes I think there really isn't a true democracy in Sweden, but I hardly dare say that. Because if you do, you're a troublemaker, somebody who is too full of himself, or perhaps, considered a fool.
That there are tendencies in the same direction in a host of countries changes nothing.
Please feel free to disagree with me. And please do write if you feel like it.