Thursday, March 30, 2006

Unfit to rule Italy, of course

[Up-dated] On Thursday next week, I will travel to Italy in order to follow Romano Prodi’s election victory over Silvio Berlusconi. If you need one final argument showing why Berlusconi is "unfit to rule Italy", as one famous anti-Berlusconi- The Economist-cover screamed when I was walking the arcades of Bologna in 2001, just watch this video-clip.

I don’t know anything about the context of the video-clip or whether it is 100 percent authentic. But remember: the man you see behaving like that recently compared himself to Jesus, and he might be the Prime Minister of a G8-country.

Wonkette is now admitting that the video-clip is a fraud, read more about the whole story
(Thanks Jim, although it was a fraud :-) Through Wonkette)

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Petad ur startelvan...

Jag hade tänkt blogga om ett högtidligt besked som jag fått, men Krister gjorde det snabbare och roligare.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Sports can make you sooo happy

This spring, at 7 am every Tuesday morning, some of my workmates and I play in a very amateurish but very fun floorball competition (read more about floorball/innebandy here). The first team to score 10 goals wins the game.

Today the score was 9-9 when I got a perfect pass and ended up one on one with their last defender. And I scored. I promise, I had missed a lot of chances before that, I do not intend to brag here. The point is: I am 32 and have played a lot of sports, but I had forgotten how stupidly happy you can get just because a ball ends up in the net. How does that work? I felt really stupid.

Will there be a floorball competition Beijing 2008?

Should the US leave Iraq?

I was asked today whether I think the US should leave Iraq and I realized I have not written about this issue for a while.

The answer is no, I don't think that the US should (or can) leave right now, that would probably lead to a real civil war. So the question is instead: what can be done about the present situation, and how we can end up in a situation where the Iraqis can govern and rule their own country without any foreign involvement?

Clearly a new policy in Iraq is needed. The most interesting initiative I have heard about lately comes from a group of people at the Brookings Institution. The group suggests a new, more integrated approach with concrete proposals within most policy areas (economics, infrastructure, military operations, organization, etc). Read more about their work and policy proposals here, and I would happily receive advice about other promising ideas.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Sweden has a new Minister of Foreign Affairs!

Just before 10 this morning I had to run to a press conference where Prime Minister Göran Persson announced that Mr. Jan Eliasson is Sweden's new Minister of Foreign Affairs. You can read my analysis of this here [in Swedish], but in short I think this was a good solution:

1. Bob Dylan is a good songwriter, and Jan Eliasson has a fantastic track record when it comes to foreign policy. That is just how it is. For example: Jan Eliasson is the chairman of the UN General Assembly right now. And if he were born in Asia he would probably be the next Secretary General of the UN.

2. Carin Jämtin was "up-graded" to the position of Deputy Minister of Foreign Minister and this Eliasson-Jämtin duo is for sure very strong. Jämtin represents a younger generation, never misses a local party meeting, and is tough when she discusses foreign aid to Africa with Paul Wolfowitz. For a social democrat, foreign policy and foreign aid go together, and now Carin is formally Deputy Minister of Foreign Minister, and still in charge of foreign aid. The Moderates (i.e. Swedish Conservatives) wants to lower foreign aid to the poorest with roughly 8 billion SEK. The right-wing "alliance" can never match this duo.

3. I hope and think that Sweden's foreign policy now will become even louder and get even more influence in EU and world politics. This duo is indeed very promising. So, is there a main problem? Yes, being 65 years old, Sweden's new Minister of Foreign Affairs does not help us solving one major question: who will, one day, succeed Göran Persson?

(I will discuss this on SVT24 at 18.10, read more here).

Friday, March 24, 2006

Welcome to the blogosphere, Jesper

I think we were quite a bunch who felt a little bit sad when Jesper Bengtsson moved on from Aftonbladet to Seko Magasinet. Jesper is one of the best journalists (and authors) to the left of center in Sweden, and his columns in Aftonbladet were always worth reading.

But as I have noted before, Jesper has a new column at Seko Magasinet that you should not forget to read. And I have also learnt that Seko Magasinet is undergoing some interesting changes, which should remind one and all that Swedish trade union press often is underestimated.

As if this was not enough, Jesper has now (as well) entered the blogosphere. I think this is really good news, and I look forward to reading Jesper's comments about politics, journalism, and… Disney-films. Read his first entries, and you will understand the Disney-connection.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Last catching up: Energy

One thing that was very obvious during my short stay in Brussels was that whenever politics is discussed, energy pops up. Since I came back to Stockholm I have written two articles about the energy debate in Sweden and Europe, help yourselves! [Both are in Swedish, though]

Catching up VI: Covers and wine

After a looong conference Monday, my friend Henrik and I went back to his flat in Brussels in order to listen to some music.

Henrik played a couple of fantastic covers in a row that I have to tell y'all about:
  • Lloyd Cole singing "People ain't no good" (originally by Nick Cave).
  • Anna Ternheim singing "Shoreline" (originally by Broder Daniel).
  • Ryan Adams singing "Wonderwall" (originally by Oasis).
And, way too predictable, but anyway:
An old friend, wine and music, not bad at all… But next time I want to hear Jeff Buckley's version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" as well!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Catching up V: Waiting for the bus in Brussels

I was in Brussels Sunday-Tuesday and it is always nice to see old friends (thanks for your hospitality Henrik), but I can also report that our PES Party chairman Poul Nyrup Rasmussen is as full of energy as always. As you all should know, I really believe in building a stronger Party of European Socialists and Social Democrats.

When I was waiting for the bus to the airport, I got a phone call with a simple message: there is a press conference in Stockholm right now and Sweden's Minister of Foreign Affairs Laila Freivalds is resigning.

As almost everyone else, I think she made the right call and I understand her decision. The Financial Times has published an informative article about the background (here).

The question is of course: who will be the successor? Personally I hope for an individual with solid background in the social democrat party, who also has a strong interest in and knowledge of the foreign policy our party stands for.

Many commentators are pointing out that a Foreign Minister today must also have a sound understanding of general politics and be media-slick. That is true of course, but having strong ties to the party and our foreign policy tradition is even more important to me.

Three people who meet all these demands are Carin Jämtin, Margot Wallström, and Urban Ahlin. But the tabloids are much better than me when it comes to speculations.
(Pictures from AiP:s archive)

Catching-up IV: Not just a dinner

I normally write about politics, football, and music on this blog but here is an exception to the rule: in order to celebrate my girlfriend Emma's birthday we had dinner together at the restaurant Lux Saturday night. And yes, it was not cheap, but I can just say that it is worth saving up and eating out sometimes.

The food (and the service) was excellent, and I loved how we were served small dishes between the courses that you had not ordered (and did not have to pay for…). I had "fennel fried halibut by the piece with morels, salted lemon and raw shrimp" and it was most of all very tasteful (i.e. balanced and strong tastes). Check their website and start saving!

Catching-up III: PES Stockholm

We have also had our first annual meeting with PES Stockholm, Europe's first group of local PES-activists. I am happy to announce that we already have 92 members, and that our website is now up and running . You will find the website here (where you also can register as a member, and read about us in English).

Catching-up II: Conservative days

Conclusion after spending Friday and Saturday in Jönköping at the Swedish Conservative party's conference: honestly I am not that impressed. The atmosphere was not at all "we really have a chance to win a general election", and I think the confidence at a New Labour conference in 1997, or a SPD conference in 1998, must have been totally different.

One reason might be that Swedish economic growth now really is rockin', something that gives the Social Democratic party the possibility to run a positive campaign full of reforms. You will find my conclusions here (in Swedish).

Catching-up I: Blair and Persson

As I said, it has been busy days, but now I will try to catch up. First of all, in my column in AiP this week I try to put focus on the reform agenda of Tony Blair and Göran Persson. Winning elections and delivering economic growth (and surviving scandals) are not the only things they are great at. Did you know that public spending as a percentage of GDP has risen from 37 to 44 percent since Blair took office? Read more here (in Swedish).

Monday, March 20, 2006

Lisbon Scorecard VI

Today the CER presented their Lisbon scorecards for the 6th time, there is not too much information on their website yet but from what I understand Denmark passed Sweden this year so we came in second (article in Swedish here).

By the way: the last couple of days have been busy, I am in Brussels right now (in the PES-office) and will blog more about the weekend later.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Not any own ideas left?

So, I am still at the conservative conference in Jönköping, but must report right away that the conservative party is about to start a new campaign (billboards, ads in newspapers, etc).

"New", however, is not the right word here. The conservative party, and the agency Storåkers, have stolen the latest social democratic campaign (developped together with the agency Acne). The newspaper Dagens Media is reporting this today (here), where you can also see how close the two posters look.

To me this seems somewhat desperate. Why not talk about the political proposals, and/or present an original idea? And how come the agency Storåkers agreed to put their name behind a stolen idea?

Friday, March 17, 2006

Conservative days in Jönköping

Friday and Saturday I will be at the Swedish Conservative party's conference in Jönköping, and you will find articles and blog posts at See you there!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

And guess what? Prodi won the debate!

I sure was hoping, but Romano Prodi is not the born TV-man. But still, most polls and analysis now suggest the same thing: Prodi won the TV-debate against Berlusconi yesterday. La Repubblica refers to a poll with a clear message: “Prodi vince 50-44”.

I have only seen parts of the debate (you can watch all of it here), but from what I have seen so far, Il Cavaliere (Berlusconi) talked mostly, as always, about a minimal state and the past:

Il Cavaliere: “We want a state that is not too heavy a burden, that primarily guarantees the citizens’ basic freedom and rights. […] To the left we have a coalition of parties stemming from an old ideology that comes back.

Prodi replied by addressing Italy’s young generation, saying that country’s growth must be put back on track:

Il Professore: “And growth will only happen if you have a sense for justice and equality. […] All of us must mobilize for schools and jobs and against the insecurity in the workplace. […] That is only possible if solidarity is prevailing.

Needless to say, I think it is evident that Prodi’s message makes more sense…

Other commentators are stressing that the debate was very (and even too) civilized, that even Berlusconi played by the rules, which did not benefit Berlusconi who is used to talking as long as he wants (hey, he has his own TV-stations).

Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, married to Sweden’s last/most recent conservative Prime Minister Mr. Carl Bildt, even spoke about a new dawn for Italy, meaning that the civilized debate is a sign of a coming regime change where Italy will have to play more by the rules (i.e. with Prodi as PM). Would her husband also vote for Prodi, it sure sounds like she is about to!?

Anyway, there is a second debate on April 3rd and I am not jumping to conclusions yet. I remember an election in 2004 when a right-wing guy with a name beginning with a “B” lost the first debate, but then won a landslide. Let’s hope that Prodi and the Italian center-left manage to do what Kerry and the Democratic Party should have done.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Sofia and Alison

In a music review today, Po Tidholm makes a comparison someone should have done before: in her best moments, Swedish folksinger Sofia Karlsson (with band) is as good as Alison Krauss (with band, i.e. Union Station). So if you like folk songs combined with bluegrass, and don’t know of Sofia Karlsson and/or Alison Krauss yet, you sure have some records to buy.

(And that I used to work with Sofia’s brother Per, and that Sofia sang when the social democratic party’s congress was opened in November 2005, don’t make things worse, of course).

Monday, March 13, 2006

A fun and respectful visit at Timbro, II

During my visit at Timbro yesterday one student asked me a very good question: which three books should he read if he wants to know more about social democracy [how I think]? I mentioned these three books:
1. “En studie i rött. Socialdemokratins idéer” by Henry Pettersson (Premiss förlag). Or the thesis Henry wrote for his PhD: “Den försiktiga kameleonten. Europeisk socialdemokrati och brittiska Labour” (Örebro studies in Political Science).
2. “Why Europe will run the 21st century” by Mark Leonard (called “Utmaning Europa” in Swedish, Prisma förlag).
3. “Det måtfulla upproret. Lindh, Sahlin, Wallström och 20 år av politisk förnyelse” by Jesper Bengtsson (Norstedts).

If you as a reader of this blog have other suggestions, please write them down in the commentary box below!

A fun and respectful visit at Timbro

Yesterday, and for the second year in a row, I was invited to give a lecture at the so-called “Stureakademin” at Timbro (the leading right-wing think tank in Sweden). “Stureakademin” is a one-year course organized for some 20 students with the heart to the (sometimes far-) right of center. The basic idea is to give them a chance to learn more about the “values of freedom”.

My role there? To provoke a discussion and tell them why they are wrong, and why liberalism alone is an insufficient ideology if your aim is to improve society. Needless to say, it is a lot of fun, and when I walked from Grev Turegatan 19 (where Timbro is located) back to Kungsholmen I made three reflections (listening to Billy Bragg in my iPod);

1. We social democrats should have more of these activities, as a matter of fact I cannot understand why we don’t have more of academies, workshops about how to write editorials, and more/bigger thinks-tanks where young people can develop their people thinking. In the long run, we might be losing the battle of ideas, although we have both resources and the best ideas. And we social democrats really need to re-discuss our ideas, aims, and visions; but we also need to collect examples of best practice and fill our political networks in municipalities and regions with smart, fair and cost-effective solutions to today's political challenges. Here, we can catch a couple of birds with one stone (and some positive exceptions to the rule exist already today, like Arenagruppen).

2. It is soooo fun to discuss politics with a group of people you totally and respectfully disagree with. The students in the academy were (of course) smart, nice and very articulate but gosh we disagreed heavily. All of them were pro selective, means-tested welfare benefits and I got no sympathy when trying to outline the basic arguments for a universal welfare state and why it is a great idea to give one percent of GDP to the Third World. But I really enjoyed the discussion.

3. Oh gosh I really want us to win the election on September 17th. In the long run, I fear the ideas carried forward by the Swedish right. I fear the lack of understanding for trade unionism, aid to the Third world, universal welfare, re-distribution from rich to poor, etc etc. But that is why we disagree and that is why we have elections. That I badly want us to win.

My way of provoking the discussion was, this year again, to read an open letter that I called “I accuse liberalism”. I will publish it here at the blog as soon as possible.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Left, and for Europe

When I was working for and with Social Democratic Students, I became active in a fantastic network of individuals called Left for Europe ("Vänster för Europa" in Swedish). The name says it all; we are all politically to the left of center, and positive vis-à-vis the European Union as a political project.

This network has stimulated my political thinking enormously, and just to hang out and discuss politics with people like Anders Ehnmark, Kenneth Kvist, Håkan A Bengtsson and Ylva Johansson (until she became a Minister in the Swedish Government) is fantastic.

Interesting conversations alone cannot change the world though, but now Left for Europe has the first important building block: a new website. Fellow bloggers Helena (and Jon) have done a fantastic work with the website, and I urge y'all to browse around, and don't miss that we have our annual meeting on the 4th of April.

Moreover, Left for Europe has older siblings in for example Norway (Radikalt Europa) and Denmark (Nyt Europa), and I often find political inspiration there as well. Moral of the story? When you are born in Scandinavia, being pro-EU and to the left of the center is a very natural and healthy combination. Stimulates your mind in a very good way, I promise!

(Talking about stimulating the mind; I won my first squash-match today, and except for thinking about where to put the ball, I ran veeeery much. A great sport.)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Social Democratic victory in The Netherlands

I was very happy to read that the Dutch social democratic party (PvdA) emerged as winners of Tuesday’s local elections in the Netherlands. Main losers? The three parties of the current center-right coalition government…
Radio Netherlands reports in English:
While local elections have no formal consequences in terms of Dutch national politics, the outcome of this particular vote does have an impact on the current government in The Hague, for the voters used the polls to express their rejection of the policies of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende.

The leader of the conservative-liberal VVD, Jozias van Aartsen, has already drawn his own conclusions, and resigned. […]

The people of the Netherlands appear to have had enough of the policies of this centre-right cabinet. The signal they sent could not have been clearer, for the opposition parties made considerable gains.

In just over a year's time, the country will be voting again in the general election […]
So, hopefully we will have PvdA back in national office next year, focusing on sustainable growth and welfare policies. If we win in Italy in April, the left will be about to get a momentum in European politics again.

There’s always a next season

After missing a million and one chances Liverpool is out of the Champions League. We did not beat Benfica 2-0 yesterday; we lost 0-2. One can always rely on the infamous Nick Hornby quote: 'I fell in love with football as I was later to fall in love with women: suddenly, inexplicably, uncritically, giving no thought to the pain or disruption it would bring with it'. If you think this quote is just stupid, you don’t really like football.

Anyway, I watched the second half with a Finnish friend who is in town at the new O’Learys bar at Stockholm’s central station. We ended up talking to an English guy and I asked him what he thought of Robbie Fowler coming back to Liverpool. His response, “a poor man’s Michael Owen”, still hurts today as our inability to score sent us out of the Champions League. But “there is always a next season”, as a drunk Scotsman once told me at The Halt Bar in Glasgow.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Celebrate 8th of March...

...through signing this petition, if you haven't already done it!

Välkommen till "Trendbaren"

I dag onsdag ska jag vara med och diskutera vem som har "makten", media eller politikerna, i den så kallade "Trendbaren". Ska bli riktigt kul, om du vill komma (eller veta mer) så klickar du här. Lyckligtvis ska diskussionen avslutas runt klockan 20, så jag hinner se Liverpool-Benfica med en sossekompis från Finland som är i stan. Jag hoppas på en givande diskussion och sedan 2-0 till Liverpool.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Ballongturnén rullar vidare...

...och löftena staplas på hög. Men hur ska allt finansieras? Reformer för 17 miljarder är utlovade, hoppas borgerligheten på "dynamiska effekter"? Läs mer här.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Artikel och lite bloggande... borgarnas Norrlandsturné finns nu på Missa inte heller att vi sossar har haft en småföretagarkonferens i dag.

Borgarna med ballonger i Sundsvall

Sitter på Folkets Hus i Sundsvall och har precis sett de fyra borgerliga partiledarna komma och gå i en buss. Ballonger. Affischer. Men inte så mycket politik, precis som vanligt. En nyhet dock: de vill slopa arbetsgivaravgiften för tjänsteföretag i "stödområde A" i Norrland och de vill sälja ut en hel radda statliga företag. En text från Sundsvall kommer på under dagen. Nu ska jag äta en snabb lunch och sedan åka hemåt till redaktionen i Stockholm.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Jag noterar att...

...SVT-dokumentären om moderaterna visserligen innehöll några sekunder med den trevliga Tove Lifvendahl. Men i övrigt var det bara en maktkamp mellan män, Carl och Bosse och Ulf och Fredrik förstås. Kvinnorna lyste verkligen med sin frånvaro. Roligast: det nya smeknamnet på moderaternas gamla bunker är "bankvalvet" (eftersom många av de nya männen med makt kommer från Riksbanken, med Anders E Borg i spetsen).

Imorgon åker jag till Norrland för att följa och skriva om i alla fall delar av "alliansens" bussturné i Norrland. Så mer bloggande imorgon.

Friday, March 03, 2006

En artikel om Littorin...

...och vad som har hänt den senaste veckan med "mejlgate", karikatyrer, "hemliga" valplaner, etc etc, finns nu på Och: karikatyren här publiceras med vänligt tillstånd av Länstidningen Östersund. Trevlig läsning!

P.S. Skolminister Ibbe har fått ett pris som han ska vara mycket stolt över. Priset visar att (s)kolpolitiken har många dimensioner som får för lite uppmärksamhet. Grattis Ibbe!

Det närmar sig 8 mars...

...och vi påminns om att moderaterna inte har en jämställdhetspolitik ens från 1900-talet. Det doftar Wienkongress, ståndsriksdag, amerikanskt inbörderkrig, och klassiskt 1800-tal lång väg: en mamma i Nacka ringer kommunen för att fixa dagisplats, och blir uppmanad att bli dagmamma åt sina egna barn [läs mer här]!!! Den ytterst moderatstyrda kommunen har ju ett system som ska uppmuntra "föräldrar" (fast det blir ju mest mammor, konstigt!?) att stanna hemma med sina egna barn och få ersättning från kommunen. Har moderaternas chefsekonom Anders E Borg räknat på hur det påverkar arbetskraftsutbudet? Har någon moderat ställt frågan om förslaget har någon effekt på jämställdheten mellan kvinnor och män?

SSU räddar dagen med ett viktigt och intressant krav inom jämställdhetsområdet; utplåna lönskillnaderna till 2010. Politik är som bekant att vilja, även om SSUarna ännu inte verkar ha presenterat några konkreta förslag.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Ni har väl inte missat...

...att Fria Moderata Studentförbundet dels ifrågasätter Reinfeldts krokodiltårar, och dels publicerar en Muhammedkarikatyr? Ett rätt och ett "tillåtet fel", med andra ord. Missa inte heller Länstidningens ledare om sin numera riksbekante tecknare Kjell Nilsson-Mäki.
[Bilden togs bort under natten och är nu ersatt med en FMSF-karikatyr av Göran Persson]

Celebrate the World Cup…

…fight sexual slavery! As I have been saying before, loads of good initiatives are coming from the Party of European Socialists right now. So, why not sign this electronic post card to President Barroso right away, and show your support for strong actions against the terrible trafficking of women that will occur during the World Cup in Germany. Go on, do it now!

Verso le Elezioni Politiche!

The Italian left is still head in the new poll; 52,2% vs 47,3%. Go Prodi!
(Thanks Samuel)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Heard what Bush is going to do in India?

W. is about to travel to India, and The Economist urges him to read E.M. Forster's best-known novel "A passage to India" during the 13-hour flight. The reason? Just as in Forster's novel, "no passage to India is ever entirely smooth". One important subject to discuss with "New China" is, according to The Economist, nuclear weapons and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (that India never has joined).

I agree, and even more so when The Economist writes that Bush should not go to India in order to promote some kind of "India can be a counterweight to China policy". To make China play by the rules should not be done in a balance-of-power game, but through a combination of engagement and louder criticism of (for example) the human rights situation.

Anyway, I am sure we will have to read more about this trip soon, and until then we can always laugh at the cartoon above.

Ni hittar många artiklar... Olof Palme på, bland annat om några av gårdagens aktiviteter på ABF-huset. Trevlig läsning!