Thursday, June 29, 2006

Sweden’s weird Christians Democrats

Sweden has a very small and rather strange Christian Democratic party, and right now they have a gathering in Gothenburg. Therefore I was invited to a TV-panel (SVT24) where fellow journalists Sofia Nerbrand and Daniel Grahn (both very nice) and I discussed whether the Christian Democratic party will pass the threshold to the Riksdag (you need to get four percent of the popular vote).

I think they probably will, but they are experiencing some problems right now. They are throwing out new ideas all the time, and I think voters might get confused and just remember them as the little weird right-wing party. You know, the party that think that some people should hide their love on Brokeback Mountain, and who also worries about the growing gap between the woman and the stove. Needless to say, this is not my favorite political party...

Anyway, you can watch the debate here (our discussion starts 21 minutes into the clip).

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Tim O’Reagan – new Americana for you

If you sit in an open-plan office, like you often do at newspapers, it is crucial to have a pair of headphones. Sometimes you really need to think, write and concentrate, and I prefer to do that with good music.

Through the record label Lost Highway I have found a lot of interesting artists, and good sites from where you can listen to their music. This morning I have been listening to Tim O’Reagan, scary last name, but good music and a fantastic voice. His self-titled debut album hit stores yesterday, and you can listen to it here.

Quite “Jayhawkish”, and read what the quality magazine No Depression had to say.

* * *

And when it comes to the World Cup, it is not over just because Sweden is out (of course). I have seen all the games of the second round so far, and I am most impressed with Argentina, like so many else. I was happy to see Ukraine win, and I found myself supporting old France over young Spain. My summer in France 1998, and the following year in Montpellier, never seems to fade away.

But I still think and hope that Italy will win. And that it is not only, but partly, because Italy has a center-left government now that scored a third victory over Berlusconi the other day. :-)

Monday, June 26, 2006

Adios Amigos

Sweden was brutally kicked out of the World Cup and there is not much to be said. Germany was the better team. I could go on about the way in which Zzzzzweden started the game, the unjust red card and a missed penalty. But the fact is that we are out and we were never really close.

When the game ended I thought of the second round of the World Cup in 2002. Sweden played against Senegal and we should have won that game (remember Anders Svensson’s fantastic “helicopter-shot” in overtime, hitting the post). If we had beaten Senegal, the next hurdle would have been a quarter final against Turkey. Only in the semi-final we would have faced one of the giants of modern football, Brazil. Just like in 1994.

My conclusion is that we might have to wait a couple of World Cups until little Sweden will face such an easy path towards the semi-final as we did in 2002. That is a conclusion I declared with tears in my eyes when Camara scored that stupid goal against Sweden four years ago (something that my friend Vlad, who watched that game with me in Washington DC in 2002, just noted in a kind e-mail). Most naturally I hope we will face Trinidad in the quarter final and Tobago in the semi-final in 2010. But I am not sure about that.

In the meantime I will continue to follow the wonderful two weeks of football we still have in front of us. And I still think Italy will win, but I am too busy at work to verify that with Xbox research.

[Picture from Esbati’s blog, check out his very funny joke]

Friday, June 23, 2006

Germany will be tough (Xbox research)

Tomorrow Sweden will play a quarter final in the World Cup against the country hosting the tournament, Germany. Quite a match if you are Swedish and love football.

In order to prepare I have played the game on my Xbox. Sweden had the following team: Isaksson – Alexandersson, Mellberg, Lucic, Edman – Wilhelmsson, Linderoth, Källström, Ljungberg – Allbäck, Larsson. In half-time Zlatan replaced Allbäck.

To tell you the truth, Sweden lost the first game 1-0. Podolski scored after a messy corner already after six minutes and thereafter the game was very tough and even. Zlatan made a great difference when he came on though, but he missed a great chance in the dying minutes of the game.

However, in order to improve the validity of this “research” I replayed the game. Podolski scored again in the first half, but Zlatan scored a wonderful goal after a cut-through pass from Wilhelmsson in the beginning of the second half. (I think we need to play a lot like that, quick passes into open zones behind their defence).

Early on in the second half of extra time, Sweden got a corner. The ball ended up somewhere in the German box, and I pushed all the buttons at the same time. Out of all players in the Swedish team, Alexandersson (of IFK Göteborg) scored, and the game ended 2-1 to Sweden.

OK, this is just me kidding around, dealing with the fact that I am already very excited about the game tomorrow. But maybe there might a grain of truth in second scenario. After all, my previous research suggested that Sweden would get 5 points in the first round and finish second…

Let the second round of the beautiful game begin [and happy midsummer to y'all].

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Excited about the World Cup?

Not really the blog I read every day, but this is very ironic and funny (and a little bit scary). From the very other side of the political aisle. I wonder if "Shelley The Republican" is watching?
[Thanks Randel]

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Re-thinking about Europe

I just learnt that one of my favorite MEPs, Dan Jørgensen from Denmark, is about to release a book that he has edited (“Eurovisioner”). Mark Leonard, Ulrich Beck and Anthony Giddens are among the contributors and you will find more information here [in Danish].

According to the press release, the book has urged the contributing experts and academics to take firm positions, instead of just being neutral. Jørgensen himself puts forward 41 concrete proposals in order to stimulate the debate. Among his proposals you will find a European FBI, a European army, and a European president. Jørgensen also suggests that when we pay our taxes, the amount every individual contributes to the Union should be declared.

Sounds like a very interesting book to me. We will review in the newspaper I am now in charge of, and I will write about it here as well.

* * *

And of course: Go Sweden tonight!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Why Sweden won against Paraguay!

Do you know why Sweden finally managed to beat Paraguay? The explanation is rather simple: the man who scored our goal, Freddie Ljungberg, followed Prime Minister Göran Persson’s election strategy.

You start to the left, covering up the left flank. Then you move in into the middle, exactly what Ljungberg did towards the end of the game, and then you use your head…

Start to the left, move to the middle, use your head. Then you will get your goal, or your 50 percent. Politics, and football, can be quite simple, don't you think?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

TV tomorrow!

I will participate in the TV-program "The Press Club" (Pressklubben) tomorrow Thursday (18:35 and 22:00 on SVT24). The topic is the present political situation and my fellow panelists are Isobel Hadley-Kamptz, Jonas Pettersson, and Mats Wiklund. I am sure it will be a lot of fun, not least since I am the only one to the left of center.

Read more about it here.

Monday, June 12, 2006

My first editorial, and some new ideas

Now I am formally editor-in-chief of the weekly social democratic magazines Aktuellt in Politiken and Stockholms Tidningen! You can read my first editorial here or below, and some ideas about how I would like to develop and renew the newspaper here.

If you have any good ideas or a special wish, please let me know. I have already contacted Billy Bragg and asked if he would like to be one of our new columnists, but he said that he does not have time, so I need more ideas… Just write in the box below or send me an e-mail (eric.sundstrom[at]

Myten om resan

I USA kan du födas faderlös i en håla i Arkansas och ändå bli president, men i Europa är klassresorna så mycket färre. Eller?

En artikel i The Economist avfärdade nyligen ovanstående myt. Med stöd av två nya forskningsrapporter beskrivs de nordiska ländernas dynamik. Om barnens inkomster jämförs med föräldrarnas visar det sig att den sociala mobiliteten är högre i Norden än i USA. Den tid som en nordbo stannar i en viss inkomstklass är kortare än i andra jämförbara länder.

Studierna visar att den största rörligheten finns i de lägsta inkomstskikten. Tre av fyra söner som föddes i nordiska hem som återfanns i samhällets fattigaste femtedel på 1950-talet, hade gjort en klassresa till rikare inkomstgrupper lagom till 40-årsdagen. I USA hade bara hälften påbörjat en klassresa.

The Economist noterar något förvånat att social mobilitet inte hör samman med nyliberal ekonomisk politik. De nordiska ekonomierna är visserligen flexibla, noterar tidningen, men huvudförklaringen är de höga skatterna och omfördelningen från rik till fattig. Samt ett utbildningssystem som fungerar bättre än i USA, och som dessutom är avgiftsfritt.

Det finns en tydlig länk från hyllningsartikeln i The Economist till de tillväxtsiffror som SCB nyligen presenterade. Nationalräkenskaperna för det första kvartalet visar att tillväxten är hela 4,1 procent. Jämfört med såväl USA som alla EU15-länder har Sverige högre tillväxt. Jämlikhet och jämställdhet är inte bara ideologiskt riktigt, utan även effektivt. Därför blir följande tre saker viktiga.

För det första måste socialdemokratin bedriva en tuff, ideologisk valrörelse som försvarar välfärdssamhället och behovet av omfördelning. Politik och reformer istället för klavertramp, alltså.

För det andra ska välfärden finansieras. Väljarna genomskådar valmanifest som bara kräver omfördelning och inte betonar en hållbar näringspolitik och företagande.

För det tredje börjar många klassresor redan i skolan. Ett berättigat ifrågasättande av religiösa för- och friskolor räcker inte för att socialdemokratin ska vinna debatten.

Borgerligheten vill möta ett nytt årtusende med sämre villkor för sjuka och arbetslösa, trots en tillväxt på fyra procent. Om socialdemokraterna spelar korten rätt ligger valsegern inom räckhäll.

Men om hustrun till den faderlöse killen från Arkansas också kan bli president, det är en annan historia.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Let the beautiful game begin

Last night I did something really childish that I used to as a kid: I played Sweden’s games in the World Cup in the virtual world (not on my Commodore 64 or Amiga, but on my Xbox). Here are the results:

Sweden vs. Trinidad & Tobago 2-0 (1-0). Sweden started brilliantly, and Henrik Larsson almost scored after four minutes. Zlatan was very bleak throughout the match, but scored an easy goal in the 37th minute on a brilliant pass from Larsson. In the second half, Larsson scored a goal, but Sweden missed quite a few chances (especially Ljungberg).
Man of the Match: Tobias Linderoth, who stopped all T & T attacks pretty much on his own.
(Just a quick note: if you play FIFA 2006 from EA Sports, T & T is not among the teams you can select. So I played the game against Costa Rica instead, something that I acknowledge could undermine the relevance of this experiment).

Sweden vs. Paraguay 0-0 (0-0). A quite boring game, with two even teams who neutralized one another. (I played in a very defensive way, hoping to score on a counter-attack, just like when I play Liverpool against Chelsea). Sweden was somewhat better, and created a few decent chances. But Paraguay hit the bar with only a few minutes left.
Man of the match: Fredrik Ljungberg.

Sweden vs. England 1-1 (1-0). Sweden played very well in this game, especially Henrik Larsson, who also gave Sweden the lead in the middle of the first half. In the second half, Sweden should have scored a second goal. But after a stupid defensive mistake in the dying minutes of the game (I hit the wrong button), Michael Owen scored a very easy goal. But since England had already beaten Paraguay, Sweden came in second in the group. And Sweden still hasn't lost against England since 1968!
Man of the match: Henrik Larsson.

This was my warm up before the World Cup, we will see if this scenario holds... But my serious predications are: Sweden will make it to the second round, and if so, I most naturally will predict that game on my Xbox.

And Italy will win the World Cup. Let the beautiful game begin. In real life.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Zarqawi dead

By now you have all heard that Zarqawi is dead. Some basic things to read: reports by the BBC here, an analysis by The New Republic here (to register is free but required), a longer background article from The Atlantic here, and The Brookings Institution here.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

An inconvenient truth

Guess most of you have heard of Al “I used to be the next president of the United States” Gore’s film “An inconvenient truth”.

Don’t miss the trailer, frightening and made in the best Hollywood-style. You can watch it here or here, for example.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Sweden’s ”national day”, sort of

Today, the 6th of June, is Sweden’s “national holiday”. It is our Independence Day (4th of July in the US) or Bastille Day (14th of July in France). But it is an awkward day, it only recently became a holiday, and we don’t really know how to celebrate it yet.

It is somewhat telling that in the Wikipedia-list explaining why different countries celebrate their national holiday, Sweden’s entry is blank. However, the reason is that in 1523 Gustav Vasa was elected King on the 6th of June, and in 1809 Sweden promulgated a new Constitution on this very date. Not really like storming the Bastille or declaring independence from Great Britain…

However, although I am not a big fan of the nation state, I am proud to be a Swede and I am about to meet up some friends. We will try to celebrate this day the best we can. And when I think of Sweden today, I must admit I start thinking about the World Cup right away. Only three days away, folks.

So, please don’t miss this week’s cover of the magazine Fokus, a cover that will make any Swede start dreaming (Zlatan scores a goal while Ronaldinho is panicking). And to warm up, why don’t watch Zlatan’s classic goal against Italy in 2004, and Henrik Larsson’s beautiful header against Bulgaria the same year…

The 90 minutes against Trinidad & Tobago on Saturday feels more exciting than our King giving a speech somewhere today, but I will give this day a try. And then wait for Saturday.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Bruce on the web

Bruce Springsteen’s folky tour with the Seeger Sessions Band continues in the US right now, and the morning after each concert a handpicked song from the show is presented at AOL Music.

Quite a nice way to commence the working week, read, wtach and listen here (and don't miss the liner notes at the official website).

Friday, June 02, 2006

Grattis, Anders

En av Sveriges skarpaste pennor och klurigaste farbröder, Anders Ehnmark, fyller 75 år i dag. Vi umgicks mycket under Arenagruppens fantastiska resa till Italien i samband med valet i våras, och min respekt för Anders växte ytterligare. Det känns skönt när personer du ser upp till visar sig vara ödmjuka, lyssnande och nyfikna.

Fina och läsvärda artiklar har publicerats i Expressen och DN.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Last meeting before summer with PES Stockholm

Tonight (Thursday) we will have our last meeting of the year with PES Stockholm (an organization I have written about since we started). If you are a social democrat and in town, I hope you will show up. We will listen to Mats Engström, who recently wrote a really good book ("Maktkamp Europa"), and raise a glass together.

Program for the evening here.