Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

I am currently sitting in an appartment in Versailles outside Paris together with my friends Jim, Jean and Kevin (the appartment belongs to Jim's and Jean's wonderful parents). It is New Year's Eve and we are about to walk the gardens of Versailles and then go into Paris so I won't have time for a long summary of 2006 now (or a detailed projection of left-of-center election wins in Finland, Belgium, France, Ireland etc etc in the Spring of 2007).

Instead, let me just wish all readers of this blog a really Happy New Year, see y'all in 2007.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Work, and then France

I have been working the days between Christmas and New Years and the office is nice and calm. An excellent opportunity to write that memo that needs to be written, and to clean the inbox from old e-mails. But tomorrow I will fly to Paris, France and meet up with some friends from Washington DC. Champagne and political discussions for New Years, that is.

Anyway, the world of politics moves on towards 2007, and I guess we are all keeping our eyes on Somalia and Ethiopia (read BBCs basic overview here).

I also note that Svenska Dagbladet has read some blogs, something that made them realize that there is a Social Democratic discussion about the election defeat online. Great. But there is a formal debate in the party as well, we have been publishing a couple of articles a week about “what to do know” in Aktuellt i Politiken. See for yourself here, and then browse around the debate pages.

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The ailing Senator of South Dakota, Tim Johnson, seems to be doing somewhat better. Hang in there, Senator Johnson.

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And if you have been wondering if James Brown was any important to the world of music, read Andres Lokko today (not online yet, but check out here).

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Finally, rumors are saying that Liverpool FC is about to sign a Swede who is only 16 years old. If he will score goals and increase the level of attention for Liverpool FC in Swedish media, we would catch two birds with one stone.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas, hope you get nice presents...

...but remember all those people who are worse off than we during this holiday season.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

That’s what I call a dinner!

Just got an e-mail with the photo above, taken right after one of most interesting dinners I had in 2006. The elderly man in the middle is Helmut Schmidt, German Chancellor 1974-1982. He was in Stockholm for a meeting with Ingvar Carlsson, and Ingvar was nice enough to invite people like me, Ann Linde from SAP and Faraj Abu-iseifan from SSU (also in the picture) for one of their dinners.

The dinner was private and we all promised not to spread the very frank and open discussion we had. But let me just say that it was fantastic to sit and talk about German politics, the EU and the US, the war in Iraq and the Middle East, and globalization in general with an individual who has played such an important role in Europe’s recent history.

And I will share one sentence from the dinner with y’all. When Faraj and I had asked a couple of optimistic questions in a row, Chancellor Schmidt looked at us and said: “You are both young men and very idealistic. I can tell you did not fight in the Second World War”.

How do you respond to that?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

It’s Christmas, after all

Santa Claus is soon coming to town and if the season makes you realize that you are pretty well off compared to most people in the world, visit the website “The Solidarity Fund” (Solidaritetsfonden).

The fund is run by the Olof Palme International Center, and they are doing a great job in for example Gaza, a place where the tensions are running high this Christmas. Your contribution will be much appreciated.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Margot's formal no

Mr. Rolf Gustavsson

When I was in Porto recently I met with a Swedish journalist that I have always, hmm, looked up to in a way. Rolf Gustavsson’s columns on Sundays and his reporting of EU-affairs is one of the reasons why I quit Dagens Nyheter and switched to Svenska Dagbladet (even though I glance through DN on the web and at work).

I ran into Rolf in a café in Porto, and I was very happy to find out that he is really nice and insightful in “real life” (kind of what you hope for when you meet someone you have been reading for ages). We had a chat about a great column that he just had finished when we met, and yesterday he published yet another column about Porto (and Portugal) well worth reading.

(I also told Rolf about one of my favorite columns of his).

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Today we publish this year’s last issues of Aktuellt i Politiken, Stockholm Tidningen and Ny Tid (the papers I am editor in chief of). Needless to say, I think you will find some great reading as always:
- The previous secretary general of SAP, Lars Stjernkvist, reflects about Christmas and our party in a column.
- Our great political reporter Jan Söderström writes about what is going in SSU, and also makes a brilliant summary of the political year 2006.
- Pentti Karppinen describes how SAP in Skinnskatteberg messed up and lost power.
- And in my editorial I write a contra-factional story about how 2006 could have become a great year for SAP. I have also been to the movies and watched the new film about RFK.
- Lastly, hope you have read one of the funniest columns published in AiP in 2006 (written by Carina Skagerlind).

Friday, December 15, 2006

Leijonborg, Sahlin, trade, EU, and Kent...

Heard the Liberal party’s leader Lars Leijonborg on radio this morning and I got the feeling that he is a dead man walking. I could not stop thinking about the scandal in the election campaign and that he knew everything for a few days and lied/withheld the truth to everyone.

They will get a new leadership soon.

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More voices for Mona Sahlin now, read Niklas Nordström in today’s Göteborgs-Posten.

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The new US Congress will be inaugurated after Christmas and one worry is whether it will become more protectionist. Good news: The outgoing just passed an important trade bill. Bad news: Congress might turn Republican due to Democratic Senator Tim Johnson’s (D-S.D.) health problems. Latest is that the Senator is in stable condition after brain surgery.

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Loads happening in the EU (Reach, Turkey), don’t forget these good sources of information: EUObserver [English], Mats Engström’s blog and Europaportalen [both in Swedish].

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I am having a Kent-day, just listen to this.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

AiP in the news

Our article in AiP about Margot Wallström’s last and final “no” did get a lot of attention; it is not always our paper is featured on the 19:00 news (see picture). Also, my editorial has been quoted/referred to in Dagens Nyheter [not online] and Expressen. Yesterday I talked about the whole process on public radio (Studio Ett) with the chairwoman of the election board, Lena Hjelm-Wallén.

So, let me just make clear that I think Lena Hjelm-Wallén has done a great job so far. The process has been opened up and is rather transparent. What I have been questioning is that the process still is quite strange and far from perfect, and how it might be improved in the future. That is a very important discussion.

But Lena Hjelm-Wallén might have had a brilliant plan: She opened up the process, the party spoke and it supported Margot even stronger than expected. Imagine if this – the party standing up as one person – had convinced Margot to become party leader. Then Lena Hjelm-Wallén would have been Swede of the year, at least for us Social Democrats.

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Went to the theater with Emma yesterday and finally saw “Jösses flickor - återkomsten”. Very good indeed, even if four hours are too long. The first half, about the struggle for voting rights and the first and second wave of feminism, was rather basic if you know your political history. The second half, in which gender was mixed with other dimensions of structural discrimination such as ethnicity, sexual orientation and impairment, was very good. If you have not seen it, do so before the 10th of June.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Margot drops out (before she even entered)

When I was in Porto I made a major interview with Margot Wallstrom that is featured in today's AiP. In the interview Margot confirms, ultimatey, for the party newspaper and for the very last time, that she is not (and never was) in the race to become our party's new leader. Sad, but true.

When I learnt that Margot wanted to talk with AiP, I understood where this was going. As you who have been reading this blog for a while should now, I think she would have become an excellent leader of our party. But there are still a bunch of really good candidates, and these coming weeks will be very interesting.

Naturally, I will continue to write about these developments, both here and in the newspaper I hope y'all understand that you should subscribe to... ;-)

Friday, December 08, 2006

More photos from PES Congress in Porto

Poul Nyrup Rasmussen greets Howard Dean of the DNC:

Ségolène Royal rises in between of two traditional suits:

Margot Wallström, Sweden’s EU Commissioner:

With new phone at PES Congress in Porto

Porto seems to be a great city, even though I have not had time to be a tourist yet (I am staying for the weekend though). The PES Congress has been taking all my time, I have written a lot for AiP from here and one article is already online. Read more at the PES blog, and chez Jon Worth.

The best thing about the congress is all the people you run into. Many people whom I got to know through ECOSY, IUSY and PES-activities are here. Quite a few of us are not here on an ECOSY-mandate anymore; the “y” in ECOSY and IUSY stands for young…

Random observations: All the important decisions are taken elsewhere (by the PES leadership), but Margot Wallström spoke bravely about the need for stronger European parties. For the first team, PES-activists (grassroots from the member parties) are here, a great development that also brought more fringe events (i.e. seminars) with it. The looong speeches and biiiig panels you always have at these events varies a lot in quality (you know, all the big shots want to speak). But I just listened to Howard Dean of the DNC and legend Jacques Delors and they were both really inspiring. Ségolène Royal’s entry was that of a rock star, and she really deserves all our support, but she needs to deliver more in her speeches (read what Jon says).

But in all I think the PES is moving in the right direction, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen has done great job and will be reelected as our president today.

Photo of the Swedish delegation:
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I got a new phone and I am falling in love it (Sony Ericsson K800i). But I cannot use iSync to make my PowerBook and my new phone hang out; iSync is too old for K800i. Anyone knows what to do?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Time for PES Congress in Porto

I am just about to travel to Porto and the congress of the Party of European Socialists. I visited the last congress in Brussels in 2004 and had loads of fun, and I am confident this congress will be even better. Some 150 PES-activists (ordinary members of various socialists and social democratic parties) will participate this time, and that is a great development. The PES cannot only be a party for big shots in the different member parties. The activist-idea has been promoted by, for example, the president of the PES Poul Nyrup Rasmussen.

Thanks to a financial contribution from the Social Democratic Party, three members of PES Stockholm will travel to Porto (Shoresh Rahem, Karin Boman Röding and I). I am looking forward to two hectic days, but then Shoresh and I will hang around in Porto for the weekend. You can follow the congress here.

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Sweden is sending a guy to space, and everyone is excited. But what will he do there, will he help the US war machine? Mats Engström asks the right question today.

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The calendar says December but there is no snow and I am not really a Christmas guy so the real feeling is definitely missing. The best Christmas song ever, a true fairytale of a great city, cheered me up though (thanks again, YouTube).

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I know I am often excited about the movies I watch (my mum pointed this out to me recently). But “The Beat That My Heart Skipped“ was not as good as I expected. At least Romain Duris is acting like a young Robert de Niro.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Ideology or pragmatism?

The debate about the new party leader continues, for example here and here. And watch out for quite a few articles in AiP tomorrow Monday.

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Don’t miss the section about ideology and pragmatism in Sunday’s edition of the radio show “Godmorgon världen” (first section in the second hour of the show, and yes, your blogger is interviewed).

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Went to a really fun party for one of Sweden’s best editorialist Saturday night (yes, Åsa is 30 now). Congratulations once again Åsa, and thanks for a great party.

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Saw a very powerful and moving film about the genocide in Rwanda, Shooting Dogs, earlier tonight. It is totally outrageous and terrible that such a thing could happen, and similar things are going on today. Save Darfur!