Dear SSU – summary of the Congress of 2007
1. Overall, I was positively surprised. When I sat listening to the political debates, I was impressed by many really ambitious, smart and young delegates who address the congress with detailed speeches about feminism, LesBiGay-issues, the UN-system, etc etc. I felt old but also pleased, knowing that there are loads of talented, young people in the organization.
Moreover, my impression is that there is a real insight into the historic problems of the organization (notably the fights between the ”left and right fractions”). As Jesse Jackson said, a bird needs two wings to fly, and after a few crashes, the bird [SSU] has learnt that the hard way.
2. But, it is still evident that there is still a bitterness that needs to be healed. A few people were extremely bitter during the closing ceremony, something that surprised me (we are not talking about young political newcomers here; a congress should be closed with respect and in good spirit).
3. I think that Jytte Guteland, the new president, will be great. Yes, she is a close friend of mine but we have also worked a lot together in SSF so I know her enormous working capacity and impressive political compass.
However, I think she is facing a dilemma: The organization needs to heal, but SSU must also become a relevant force in Swedish politics again, and then they need to take controversial political standpoints. For example, this autumn Jytte will have to tell us journalists what the SSU thinks about the new EU-treaty. Whatever the SSU-standpoint will be (good or bad, referendum or no referendum) – not everyone can or will be pleased.
In short, SSU will have to manage two things at the same time: Organizational healing and a political battle of ideas and standpoints.
So, that is my summary. And I would like to underline that it is a summary from the sideline. I was never really active in SSU (but in SSF) and today I watch SSU from a distance. I would never dream of giving any advice (unless if a specific question arrives). I just hope that SSU will be an enormously relevant political force (again) that I feel I just have to write about more than only once in a while.
The best of luck, Jytte, the new board, and SSU.