By columnist Ulf Nilson, October, 2011

The question is asked absolutely everywhere in Sweden these days. It refers to the decision of the leaders of the Social Democratic party to elect (if that's the word) a certain Håkan Juholt to be their leader.
What we know—because media told us—is that Juholt was a member of parliament for a number of years. Not highly visible, not in any way prominent, but a steady-as-you-go politician from the country side, specializing in (yawn) defense. (Since the Soviet union collapsed in 1989, defense has not been a big deal in Sweden.)
What we also know n o w is that the power brokers in the S party did an incredibly sloppy job of checking out the man they made party chairman and (just possibly!) prime minister after the election in 2012. They did not find out, for instance, that Juholt had let his partner live with him in the apartment in Stockholm provided by the Riksdagen.
What's the matter with that, you might ask? I ask the same thing, but the rules say that government pays for one, not two people in the apartment. Juholt managed to get considerably more money than he should have had. In other words: fraud, in spite of the fact that he paid back when exposed. A lot of other smaller offenses, according to most observers, told a clear story: Juholt is in it for as much as he can grab, he is selfish and greedy. And—here comes the rub—he places himself above the rules.
In Sweden even the most stupid rules must be OBEYED. Not stretched, not tampered with, but strictly obeyed. The fact that they are idiotic (why shouldn't a member of parliament be able to live with his wife or partner?) does not matter. Rules are rules and he who thinks and acts otherwise takes a grave risk. Even if scores of opinion polls say that Juholt has a chance to survive politically, almost nobody thinks he can win the election. I agree: To let him lead the party points to a death wish. He must go, but he so far refuses.
But there is more. The media digs frantically into Juholt's past and what do we find? He has been, among other things, bragging about having smuggled printing equipment into Poland to help the free trade union Solidarity. The trouble is, however, many Swedes were working to help the Poles in those days and nobody remembers that Juholt took part. The printing equipment was brought in legally. And not by him. The conclusion is that he did nothing of note for the Poles, but bragged and lied. In other words: a bit of a stature building with the help of untruth.
Leaders who lie now and then are not—even Swedes know—uncommon. But the fact that Juholt has also made, retracted and remade a lot of statements has led to the impression that the man is at best sloppy, but more likely an opportunist and—I'll use that horrible word again—a lying SOB out to promote himself.
Although there has been a lot of pressure, Juholt has (so far) refused to step down. He has considerable support within the party leadership, most likely (in my opinion) because the folks are embarrassed and determined n o t to confess to the fact that they have been sloppy and wrong.
Within the ruling coalition, I should add, there is great happiness. Even if the S changes its leader, the chance that they will win the election in 2012 is almost nil. End of story.