Saturday, March 31, 2007

...and elections as well...

At a congress you always have rather sensitive elections when you elect the leadership who will represent and govern ECOSY until the next congress. As a veteran I am not involved in this at all, which is a great relief. My only advice would have been: Try to compromise and focus on the political work. Anyway, I want to congratulate everyone who was elected a few minutes ago, for example my old friend Brian, who I sometimes disagree with both when it comes to policy and football (he supports Everton…), but who I know and respect as a great comrade. Good luck everyone, take care of ECOSY!

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Things like this makes me sooooo happy. Well done, Liverpool.

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It’s ECOSY, so it’s fun...

Still at the ECOSY-congress, still having a great time. Since my last blog post, Dimitri has given me an excellent update on the political situation in Georgia, I have discussed the elections to the European Parliament in Bulgaria in May, I have met people from both the Israeli Labor party and Meretz. And last night in the bar, I made friends with people from Northern Ireland (SDLP) and Macedonia. And then I hung out with the usual crowd: my friends from Denmark (for example Peter and Trine), Finland, Britain, Italy and Estonia.

Everyone who knows me or follows this blog should understand that I am having a great time. And tonight there is dinner for us old veterans of ECOSY, and then there is a party.

More photos [thanks Tom]:

Pascal Lamy (WTO) and Poul Nyrup Rasmussen (PES).

Pascal Lamy (WTO), Fikile Mbalula (IUSY) and Giacomo Filibeck (ECOSY).

Banner outside the congress hall.


Friday, March 30, 2007

If it is not fun, it is not ECOSY...

Many of my best memories and friends in politics are connected to all the congresses, camps and meetings organized by Young European Socialists (ECOSY). This weekend ECOSY has its 8th congress in Warszawa, Poland. I was invited as a veteran, and since I knew I would meet a lot of old friends, I decided to go. Also, since we always make at least one international page in Aktuellt i Politiken every week, this was an excellent opportunity to write an article or two.

So here I am, in a nice and huge hotel next to the airport in Warszawa, and I have already updated my knowledge of European politics in numerous ways [please note that this is based on chats and gossiping]:
  • I have listened to a speech by Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, and combined with a chat we had, this will become an article about his visions regarding the Party of European Socialists.
  • I have learnt that there are elections in Switzerland this autumn, but our sister party will face a tough match since immigration is a huge issue.
  • In Britain, Gordon Brown (and not David Miliband) will succeed Tony Blair, and Brown is not as moody as the rumors say.
  • Czech politics are a mess, and the Conservative bloc does not always have a majority in the very tight parliament.
  • The Italian economy is improving, partly thanks to Fiat who is increasing its share of the European car market. Casini is not as close to Berlusconi anymore, but is not joining Prodi yet.
  • Our Danish friends are very optimistic about the next election, even if the closing of a youth/cultural center in Copenhagen mostly hurt the Social Democratic Mayor (and not the Conservative government).
  • Our French comrades are happy that Bayrou is dropping in the polls, meaning that Royal should make it to the second round. Given the pessimistic mood in the country and the bad legacy of Chirac, the left still has a chance, but then Royal has to be the people’s choice for progressive change.
  • In Finland, my friends seemed a little embarrassed to have become only the third biggest party. But the generation of Social Democratic Finns born in the 1970s and 1980s seems very strong to me, and I hope they will get more influence in the party.
  • My Estonian friend and I just concluded that we will talk over a beer later, so more reports will follow!
  • Now Pascal Lamy of the WTO is speaking, and his main point is that the socialist movement have been trying to regulate and make use of market economy and capitalism for 150 years, but now we have to do it on a global scale. I could not agree more.
In short: ECOSY is as fun as always. As a matter of fact, this is European politics for real.


Mona again...

Mona Sahlin is now starting to reform the internal work of the party, and the first article describing these changes can (of course) be read at


A ”nerd deluxe”, please...

The big topic of discussion the last couple of days has been the documentary in which Göran Persson sits in front of a camera and describes his life as Prime Minister (the interviews were made during his whole tenure as PM). Now Göran Persson complains about how the material – over 100 hours – has been cut. And I agree: please do another loooong version for all political nerds who wants to hear everything he said about politics, and not persons. Maybe it can be included as extra material in the new dvd that is about to be released? A “nerd deluxe”?

* * *

Sweden lost to Northern Ireland in a qualifier to the Euro 2008 so I will finally have to write this: Time to go, national coach Lars Lagerbäck. Thanks for all the fun, but this just ain’t good enough.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Miliband or Brown after Blair?

The succession race in the British Labour party seems to be toughening up: Miliband can still challenge and win over Brown, according to some news reports this weekend. The Guardian has an excellent website with all the latest.
[Thanks Niklas]

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

More about the congress and Mona Sahlin...

It’s Wednesday and I still get a smile on my face when I think about the congress last weekend. There is some stuff to read at; editorial, a summary of the political debate, Ingvar Carlsson’s pieces of advice to Mona, but also an essay about US politics written by my friend Kevin Croke.

Also: Here is photo of me and my girlfriend Emma during the party Saturday evening. A fun and historic night [thanks for the photo Nisha].

* * *

The documentaries about Göran Persson’s 11 years in power are like a car wreck; it is impossible not to watch. My basic analysis after the first two episodes is that this only confirms the two sides of Persson. One the hand, an enormously skillful politician. On the other hand, a harsh and blunt man who apparently says things in front of a camera that other people would not say alone in the bathtub. Third episode tomorrow Thursday.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Talking to a dead photographer

Yesterday I read one of the best blog posts I have come across in Swedish so far. I had to listen to ”Kärlekens tunga” (Eldkvarn) and ”Famous blue raincoat” (Leonard Cohen), which this story reminded me of, quite a few times just to let the text sink in. Once again, don’t miss ”Svart blogg”.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Bronze medal in Finland

As you know by now, the Finnish Social Democratic Party (SDP) only came in third yesterday. If you read Swedish, don’t forget that Finland has a major newspaper in that/our language. My good Finnish friend Esa sent me text message already 21:29 Finnish time yesterday: We’re f**ked, getting loaded now...

When I called him very early this morning to get an election analysis for an article I was writing, he was not the happiest man on earth (i.e. sleeping and recovering from Koskenkorva).

So, to all my Finnish friends: Welcome to opposition. Let’s work together in order to find ways to make our countries more progressive again. An idea: start looking for a really cool and bright woman to lead your party...?


Welcome, Mona, very much welcome

One thing was bad with this weekend’s congress: the wireless network did not work in the congress hall, where I spent most of the time. And this was a historic congress, so I wanted to be in the congress hall, listening and watching and writing articles [hey, I was working the whole weekend]. Finally, some reflections:

1. This party did recently obtain its worst election result since 1914, but the ambiance was extremely positive during the whole weekend. You could see in peoples’ faces that they were happy about the election of Mona Sahlin. The reason was that a fresh but familiar wind swept through Folkets Hus in Stockholm, the building once designed by Sven Markelius. People breathed, and smiles followed.

2. The wind was fresh because the world’s most successful labor party – traditionally male, stubborn and hierarchic – has elected a woman for the first time. As readers of this blog know, I really like Mona and I had high expectations this weekend. But she did not only meet expectations, she really took command, exceeded high hopes, and the fresh wind came.

3. The reason why Mona did so well and spread happy smiles this weekend can be boiled down to two reasons; content and attitude. When it comes to the content of her first major speech as party leader, I must admit I was thrilled. In the beginning of her speech Mona asked the important question: what is social democracy really about? She answered the question in the best possible way: freedom. We are a movement stemming from the quest for freedom and liberation, a struggle that also demands equality, solidarity, and individual responsibility.

The political priorities that Mona focused on were timeless and modern: sustainable development, jobs, peace, and welfare. She was brave and did the right thing when emphasizing that the right to have a job (opportunity) also means that you should contribute as much as you can (responsibility). She also mentioned the word entrepreneur nine times, and that must be some kind of record in a social democratic speech.

Mona Sahlin underlined the important role of trade unions and collective bargaining in our political framework, and she put a lot of emphasis on the EU, globalization and international issues. She did this by putting the tradition of Olof Palme and Anna Lindh in the middle of a speech by a social democratic party leader, and boy that felt great. As I said, the wind was fresh but also familiar.

The second reason
why her speech was great has to do with attitude. She spoke about the problems of young people in a way that moved the whole congress hall, and all of sudden the Swedish Social Democratic party was standing in the middle of our contemporary society again. The new attitude was also manifested when she said that ”the team is more important than the leader”, and revealed that a new international group will be lead by two of the party’s brightest stars; Jan Eliasson and Margot Wallström. And the attitude was never more present than during the party Saturday night, when we all danced together around midnight, the team and the leader and everyone else.

After the speech, a fellow blogger summed it all up in a good way: ”This was the party I joined”. Freedom, equality, human rights, sustainable development, gender equality, Africa, entrepreneurialism, LGTB-issues, and a modern Swedish model built on market economy, strong trade unions, and generous welfare.

I smiled as well, and I smile while writing this. Welcome Mona, very much welcome.


Friday, March 16, 2007

Hang in there, Finnish comrades

Parliamentary elections in Finland on Sunday and early this morning I got this text-message from my friend Esa:
”2 days left and polls suck. Center party leads by 1%, we come as 2nd and the right 0,7 behind and on the rise… Doesn’t look too good, but we will work as hard as we can.”
So, maybe we shouldn’t expect a social democratic PM in Finland anytime soon, but let’s hope that the fuzz about the TV-commercial will galvanize the blue-collar base. And don’t miss the SDP-commercials on YouTube (here, and here, and here). Hang in there, Finnish comrades. Work hard, they are just a little bit ahead!

* * *

Our own congress starts tomorrow Saturday. I will try to blog a little in English, but things will be hectic. When the delegates, guests and others arrive in the morning, they will get a copy of Aktuellt i Politiken (in its new layout) in their hand. Feels great to modernize the party newspaper on the historic day when will elect a fantastic woman – Mona Sahlin – as our party leader. Our website will not be totally re-done yet, but there will be some new content during the weekend.

* * *

Just a quick note: Don’t miss that Zapatero, Bush, and Giuliani all have problems.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Miliband on YouTube

As you probably have heard, the Blair Government is moving forward with a new Climate Bill. In order to spread the word, the Secretary of State for Environment David Miliband [blog here, Wikipedia here] is also presenting the Climate Bill on YouTube. Check it out, and take a good look. If it won’t be Brown, or if Brown messes up, David Miliband might soon be heading a Labour Party close to you.

Who will be the first Swedish politician to present a new policy proposal on YouTube?

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Wikipedia: Fact or fiction?

As, I guess, a lot of you I use Wikipedia very often. The Economist has an insightful article about this online encyclopedia:
”So how useful is Wikipedia? Entries on uncontentious issues—logarithms, for example—are often admirable. The quality of writing is often a good guide to an entry’s usefulness: inelegant or ranting prose usually reflects muddled thoughts and incomplete information. A regular user soon gets a feel for what to trust.

Those on contentious issues are useful in a different way. The information may be only roughly balanced. But the furiously contested entries on, say, “Armenian genocide” or “Scientology”, and their attached discussion pages, do give the reader a useful idea about the contours of the arguments, and the conflicting sources and approaches. In short: it would be unwise to rely on Wikipedia as the final word, but it can be an excellent jumping off point.”

I could not agree more.


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The postive side effect

I know the Eurovision Song Contest is awfully important to a lot of people, especially in Sweden. I am not that excited about it, but I respect their point of view.

But this year, the Swedish final deciding what song will compete for us in Helsinki was opened in a fantastic way. One of my favorite artists, Tomas Andersson Wij, started the night with a beautiful version of the song “Evighet” (he did this out of competition of course).

Thanks to YouTube you can now hear and watch this magnificent opening by Tomas Andersson Wij, which gave a fantastic artist a crowd he normally does not have.

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Monday, March 12, 2007


Historic times are coming up, Göran Persson is about to step down and Mona Sahlin will become the first woman ever to lead our party. In my editorial this week I write about this transition, starting from a famous election poster from 1985… More here.

* * *

Last weekend was a lot a fun, on Saturday I was at THE party, and it was among the best parties I have been to in a long while [hey, a Swedish version of the Seegers Session’s Band played]. I will not blog about any details, but I can say that I felt very happy (and hip) to be a social democrat that night. As you have seen in the tabloids, a lot ”famous” people were there, and I hope the openness and mix of people that night will characterize our party in the future. It was probably the hippest event I have been to since I ended up at Stella McCartney’s party during the Notting Hill carnival in London in 1998...

* * *

Also made a new friend during the weekend; don’t miss his blog.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Party med S-studenter

En kortis om något som jag var med och startade: Alla som någon gång och på något sätt varit med i S-studenter; kvällen innan kongressen börjar är det fest med ”S-studenters vänner”. Mer info här.


Sunday, March 04, 2007

Ann Coulter's ”rehab-remark”

Ann Coulter gives us yet another example of why we progressives don't like Republicans. On the other hand, this is great news:

”A majority of Americans say the federal government should guarantee health insurance to every American, especially children, and are willing to pay higher taxes to do it, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.”

Full article here.

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Now I am off to give a speech at the famous ”Stureakademin”, and the topic is (as always) why they are wrong and why I am right (i.e. why liberalism as an ideology is insufficient and why social democracy is better). Always a good discussion and loads of fun.

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Good weekend read

There are two new interesting articles on First, the race in France is tightening up, thanks to a new the third man, François Bayrou. ”The odds are on a Ségo/Sarko run-off. But the race has a third man who cannot be written off”, writes The Economist. I agree, and we should all be happy as long as Le Pen stays in the shadows.

Secondly, an article about the drop in support for a lethal habit (i.e. the death penalty) in the US is well worth reading. I hope this projection is right.

* * *

Plura’s blog has put me in an Eldkvarn-mood and I listened to quite a few songs last night and this morning. A few days ago, the TV-show Go’kväll, a show I never see, visited Plura in the archipelago (Koster) where he has written songs for the new album. The show can be seen here (click on ”Se program”, and then watch the show from the 27th of February, some 20 minutes into the show).

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Ted gets angry about the minimum wage

During my graduate studies at SAIS, senator Ted Kennedy came to speak at our school right by Dupont Circle in Washington DC. His speech was mostly about international issues, this was right after 9/11, and I remember he talked about how his brother (JFK) went with trustworthy evidence to the UN before the Cuban Missile crises (implying that Bush should do the same before thinking about Iraq...). To a student of international relations, that was wings of history, but when he left I tried to say a brief hello and I remember I thought he looked old and tired (and very ”heavy”).

Not so anymore. Just watched this clip on YouTube [thanks TH] and Ted can still get angry.