Monday, April 30, 2007

First of May coming up

Aktuellt i Politiken is a Royal newspaper this week. In my editorial I link Ségo with Mona and stress their work with internal democracy in their respective party. These two women can be put in contrast to Sarkozy and the likely new leader of Sweden’s ”liberal” party, Mr Jan Björklund. Both these angry men thought it was a-ok to invade Iraq without support in the UN. Moreover, I support Mona’s effort to shape up the social democratic policy on education, an important move that should not be confused with Jan Björklund’s populist rhetoric.

You can also read a longer text about election night on Rue de Solférino, and an analysis on why Royal can win. Hey, Jacques Delors is now urging all centrists to vote for her.

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First of May tomorrow. I am the main speaker in the city of Hudiksvall, a great little town on the east coast of Sweden, a good three-hour drive north of Stockholm. I am very much looking forward to it and I will travel up there with my good friends Henrik and Torbjörn this afternoon (they agreed to turn this into a road-trip and drive me up there - thanks guys). Music and a nice scenery along the way, dinner in Hudiksvall tonight, and red flags, banners and big speech tomorrow. (List of all speakers here).

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A new interesting blogger seems to be entering the blogosphere. Welcome, Mr. Schori.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Back at work

After a few wonderful days in Paris everything went back to normal; loads of work to do and things to write – and Liverpool cannot score away against Chelski. Anaway, a few shorties:

If you read Swedish; don’t miss all the good stuff in AiP this week (editorial, interview with Mona Sahlin, my article about France, Arvid's article about France).

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ECOSY – Young European Socialist – has started a campaign for freedom in Burma (more info). The European Union has to take a stronger stand towards the regime in Burma that continuous to violate basic human rights, and the European Parliament is about to discuss this issue. Read and sign the petition here.

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Rudy Guiliani, the former New York City Mayor, is accused by Democrats for politicizing September 11th in his 2008 presidential bid. Here’s what he said at a recent campaign stop in New Hampshire:

”If a Democrat is elected president in 2008, America will be at risk for another terrorist attack on the scale of Sept. 11, 2001... Never ever again will this country ever be on defense waiting for (terrorists) to attack us if I have anything to say about it. And make no mistake, the Democrats want to put us back on defense!”

That was not nice, smart or true.

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At least the present Mayor of the world’s coolest city – Michael Bloomberg – keeps his mind straight; time for congestion charges in NYC!?

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Second round, but it will be tough...

Long day yesterday, but a lot of fun: Election night at Rue de Solférino (PS HQ), and then Royals speech at 1 am. And then I wrote this article for Aktuellt i Politiken, and now (Monday morning) it is time for some more seminars before we fly home.

The main theme
of the article in short: PS-people I talked to were happy since a lot of people voted, Le Pen messed up, they got the larger share of the vote to the left (again) and they made it to the second round with Mitterrand 1981-figures.

But: Can Royal win? Yes, because now it is the left against the hard right, change vs. more of the same. And a lot of Bayrou’s vote will go to Royal since there is a huge anti-Sarkozy vote behind Bayrou. And the votes of to the left of Royal are much safer than the votes to the right. And people really want change, and if Royal can build on that, she will win. That was the analysis last night. Optimistic, I know, but hey this is my blog.

More later.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

10 basic things about tonight

1. There are 3.3 million more registered voters than 2002.

2. As you can read below, turn out is really high, which in theory normally benefits the left (more working-class people and immigrants are probably voting, and they tend to vote more to the left than the average).

3. For Royal, ending up in the second round is crucial; otherwise the Parti Socialiste might explode. She/the PS will be happy if she ends very to close to Sarkozy, who is expected to come in first. If she ends up first, her campaign will get an enormous boost. The number she is probably dreaming about beating is 25.8 percent. That is what Mitterrand got in 1981.

4. For Sarkozy, he must come in first. Anything else would be a major surprise since he has been leading in more or less all of the 100 latest polls. But then we have the high turnout… Sarkozy is probably hoping to get more than 27 percent, and he must beat what Chirac got in the first round in 1995: 20.8 percent.

5. Le Pen is off course dreaming about making it to the second round again; he will 84 years next time. His numbers are always difficult to predict, but he got 4 804 772 votes (16,9 percent) in 2002.

6. Bayrou is off course hoping that his previous momentum and talk about being both right, left and center will put him in the second round. His party, UDF, are confident that Bayrou will increase their share of the vote compared to 2002, when they got 6,8 percent.

7. Another fun thing to keep your eyes on is who will win among the “gauche de la gauche”. There are two Trotskyite candidates and one from the communist party. I think Olivier Besancenot (Trotskyite from LCR) will end up first of the three.

8. The second round is on Sunday, 6 May – unless someone will get 50,1 percent tonight…

9. And Chirac? His mandate expires on 16 May 2007 at midnight.

10. Don’t forget that this blog will probably be helpful tonight.

I don’t know when I will get online again, but more reports and photos will follow!

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High turnout confirmed

I am sitting in front of the TV in lobby now, and by 5 PM 73,9 percent had alredy voted (+15 percentage points compared to 5 PM in 2002). Five years ago, the final turnout was only 71,6 percent. So turnout will really be high.

Later our group will have an election night at the Swedish club on Rue Rivoli in Paris, but I plan to also cross the river to the Parti Socialiste headquarters on Rue Solferino.

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France votes - in large numbers

I spent the morning just outside Paris, in St Denis, were we visited a local polling station. Alreday before noon, more than one third of registered voters had voted there. We knew that the amount of registered voters is 3.3 million higher than 2002 (according to Le Monde today), and now all of France seems to be voting in large numbers. At noon, voter turnout in all of France was 31.2 percent, and this should be compared to the same number at noon in 2002: Only 21.4 percent. That is great news.

Normally, a high turnout (and nice weather) benefits the left in most parts of the world, and in France, high turnout is normally bad for Le Pen. We have projected the election result in the group visiting Paris and my projection is as follws:

Royal: 25,9 percent
Sarkozy: 25,8 percent
Le Pen: 19 percent
Bayrou: 14,4 percent.

Obviously, I put Royal first since I am such an optimist in life in general, and you need to be brave in order to do well in projections like this. Anyway, we will have a solid exit poll at 8 PM, and the rumour is that there will be various projections on the Internet at 7 PM.

Right now, I am sitting at the café Le Fumoir (outdoors) and my food just arrived. Life could be worse.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Nothing left of Sarkozy, but Royal looks good!

At least on the official campaign posters on Rue Payenne in Paris...

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Bonjour Paris

As y'all can guess, Paris is great: The sun is up, the sky is blue and there is a major election tomorrow.

The program here is arranged by the progressive center-left think-tank etc “Arenagruppen” and we are 25 Swedes traveling together. Yesterday we had a great program and met with the following people: Eric Aeschimann (journalist at Libération, the newspaper founded by Sartre); Thierry Dedieu from the trade union Cfdt (Confédération Française Démocratique du Travail, a Christian, progressive trade union); Élisabeth Guigou (legend in the Socialist Party, Wikipedia here).

Some reflections after these talks:
The election: Even if the polls still say Sarko/Ségo to the second round, things are still up in the air. We have four rather strong candidates, and Eric Aeschimann provoked us by saying that Royal and Le Pen will end up in the second round. Needless to say, he was pushing his point the way only a French journalist can do, but he seriously meant that both Sarkozy and Bayrou are grossly overestimated in the polls. Four new polls yesterday; check’em out here.

The Parti Socialiste: All three speakers agreed that Royal’s campaign “Desirs d’avenir” has been an interesting novelty, but the verdict is still out whether this will lead to a stronger socialist party (and a more organized, bottom-up, less white male left in France). If Royal wins, her idea to create a broad platform with a lot of interaction parallel to the PS will be one of the reasons explaining her victory.

The candidates: This election is very much about candidates and their character, and not about parties. It is clear that there is a large “anti-Sarkozy” vote out there; people want change, and Élisabeth Guigou explained that there was always an anti-Sarkozy sentiment at all the election rallies she has been to. All speakers agreed that France has gotten used to a very rough, right-wing political climate, where people like Sarlozy and the real Sarkozy, Le Pen, can get so many votes. The big task for the left is to turn this disappointment into a positive vote for the future (i.e. Royal must really show how she will improve France, and cannot only rely on people being scared of Sarkozy). Hopefully, all the new registered voters in the suburbs should help the left, but some of these votes will go to Le Pen as well.

I am off to more seminars now, more later.

[Photo of me and Élisabeth Guigou by Fredrik Sjöberg]

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Three short ones

New Bruce Springsteen-record and DVD in June, pre-order here. 23 songs drawn from the band's performances in Dublin, Ireland at The Point in November 2006. Will make you wanna dance!

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You haven’t missed Leo Messi’s goal à la Maradona 1986, have you? Link here.

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Recently Erik Fichtelius interviewed an important man who is building a big house, but it all began with dolls and a small house. [Thanks Torbjörn]

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Lates polls from France

Thanks to Eva, I found the blog ”Frenchly Speaking” and this useful summary of the latest polls in France (I added the three latest polls). And yes, and I am flying to Paris Friday morning in order to follow the first round. Hopefully, more reports will follow.

CSA 14 April: Sarkozy 26 (-), Royal 23 (-), Bayrou 21 (+), Le Pen 15 (0), Undecided 21 (0)

IFOP 15 April:
Sarkozy 28,5 (-), Royal 24 (+), Bayrou 18 (-), Le Pen 13 (-), Undecided 7 (+)

IPSOS 15 April:
Sarkozy 29,5 (-), Royal 25 (+), Bayrou 17,5 (-), Le Pen 13,5 (-), Undecided 12 (0)

TNS 13 April:
Sarkozy 30 (+), Royal 26 (+), Bayrou 17 (-), Le Pen 12 (-), Undecided 23 (+)

BVA 12 April:
Sarkozy 28 (-), Royal 24 (0), Bayrou 18 (0), Le Pen 14 (+), Undecided 12 (0)

LH2 16 April:
Sarkozy 27 (-), Royal 23 (-), Bayrou 19 (+), Le Pen 14 (-), Undecided 17 (+)

CSA 16 April: Sarkozy 27 (+), Royal 25 (+), Bayrou 19 (-), Le Pen 15,5 (+), Undecided 17 (-)

IPSOS 18 April:
Sarkozy 27 (0), Royal 24,5 (-), Bayrou 18,5 (+), Le Pen 13,5 (-), Undecided 10 (+)

IFOP 18 April: Sarkozy 28 (-), Royal 22,5 (-), Bayrou 19 (+), Le Pen 12,5 (-), Undecided 4 (-)

Go Ségo!

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In French media, and on YouTube!

I was just interviewed over e-mail by a French newspaper in Lille and since a lot of us are following the French election, my answers are posted below:

1‑Do you have a lot of news in the Swedish media about the French election? If yes, what kind of articles or reports?
Yes, the reporting is rather extensive, both on TV, radio and in newspapers. Many pieces of news are about the election in general (the candidates etc), quite a few have been focusing on Ségolène Royal being a strong woman in the male world of French politics. More difficult subjects, such as the campaign about homelessness, Le Pen, integration, Sarkozys comment about young immigrants, have been reported as well.

2‑What do you think of the French candidates?
If I had the right to vote I would vote for Ségolène Royal since she combines a strong social agenda with rather sound economic policies. Sarkozy scares me, mostly since I do not believe that force is the solution to social problems. Le Pen is a talented populist in terms of winning votes, but I have no sympathy at all for his political position since I believe in multi-ethnic societies.

3‑Do you think that there are some similitarities between Ségolène Royal and Mona Sahlin?
There are a lot of similarities. They are both talented, experienced, charismatic women with similar political programs – the parties they represent (PS and SAP) are part of the same political family.

4‑Do you think that the French media are right to considered the Scandinavian countries as a model or do you think that the French media know nothing about the Scandinavian reality?
Tthere is plenty of research suggesting that the Scandinavian welfare model is competitive and well equipped to handle globalization. What should be said in the reporting is that the model is built on market economy, strong and responsible trade unions, and extensive and smart welfare systems – I hope that the French left will do their homework about this model and especially accept the first one (market economy, balanced and made more human and effective by trade unionism and generous welfare). Moreover, the new right-wing government in Sweden is currently cutting taxes and welfare and they are also trying to weaken the trade unions. So the Nordic model is being dismantled in Sweden as we speak.

5‑According to you who will win the French election? Do you have a preference?
I think that Sarkozy and Royal will end up in the second round, where Royal will win by 50,5 against 49,5. The main reason why Royal will win is because French people want change, and not five more years with a guy from Chirac’s party. And obviously I have a preference for Royal.

6‑ Do you think that this election can have an influence on the European Union? If yes, how? (for example the European constitution, the European economy…)
Since France is one of the four big in the EU, the election is very important. I believe that we need to create a social Europe that helps working people and balances the freedoms of the internal market – social dumping will not make Europe competitive in the long run. I also hope that Turkey can be part of the EU one day. I think that the EU should be more than only neo-economic integration. In all these areas, I believe more in Royal than in Sarkozy. But when elected president, Royal needs to engage in European issues in the same way as French European socialists Mitterrand and Delors did. That remians to be proven.

7‑What is the look that Swedish people have on France?
The stereotype, I guess: A charming but snobby country with a great capital, good food and wine, and beautiful countryside. But also: a struggling economy, huge problems with integration, and lack of efficiency in many fields.

8‑Can you just present yourself in few words?
I am 33 years old and the editor in chief of the weekly social democratic newspaper ”Aktuellt i Politiken”. I live in Stockholm with my girlfriend and my main interests are politics, football and music. In 1998 I lived in Tours the whole summer, and after that I studied economic history and international relations at Université Paul Valery in Montpellier for a year. I miss the weather and the food in southern France a lot!

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And don’t you miss the interview with Mona Sahlin on the Social Democratic party's new home on YouTube!

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Friday, April 13, 2007

The Economist backs Sarkozy

Maybe it is not a total surprise; the British journal The Economist supported George W. Bush over Al Gore in 2000 (but never Silvio Berlusconi). Now they endorse another man of the right; UMP candidate Nicolas Sarkozy.

To their credit, The Economist has two basic doubts:
As he showed in his brief stint as finance minister, he has most of the traditional French politician's meddlesome economic instincts, favouring a strong industrial policy, protected national champions and even interfering in supermarket prices. Recently he has taken to heaping blame on the European Central Bank for France's self-inflicted failings.


The biggest defect in Mr Sarkozy's foreign policy: his fierce hostility to letting Turkey join the EU.
But after all, according to The Economist:

On the evidence of his career and his campaign, Mr Sarkozy is less a principled liberal than a brutal pragmatist. Yet he is the only candidate brave enough to advocate the “rupture” with its past that France needs after so many gloomy years. It has been said that France advances by revolution from time to time but seldom, if ever, manages to reform. Mr Sarkozy offers at least a chance of proving this aphorism wrong.

Needless to say, I support Ségolène Royal, and the question is whether this endorsement is even positive in the eyes of a French voter. Moreover, Sarkozy now says he wants to cure France with methods from England, and I doubt if that is a vote vinner.

Anyway, it is somewhat sad when the biggest hope for Royal seems to be Chirac’s legacy and Sarkozy’s talk of reform.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Elections coming up in Britain

Labour will face tough elections on May 3rd (Local government elections in England; Parliamentary and local government elections in Scotland; Assembly election in Wales). Therefore I was glad to read (in The Guardian) that cool Labour is still mixing politics and music:
Dave Rowntree may be better known as the bespectacled one from Blur, but the drummer has gone from Blurite to Blairite after announcing he will be standing as a Labour party candidate in a council by-election this May.

Spurred on by a "sense of dissatisfaction" among Westminster residents, the long-term Labour supporter has decided to stand as councillor for the Marylebone High Street ward where he lives, despite it being a traditionally Tory stronghold.

"I'm a Westminster resident, and my experience of living here is that it all looks lovely, there are hanging baskets everywhere, but you only have to scratch the surface to see that actually there's a lot of deprivation and inequality". [...]

Standing on a redistributive platform, he'll put people "ahead of big business and ahead of property developers". "We [Westminster] are a very, very rich area, one of the richest in the country, and yet nine of our wards are amongst the poorest in the country. I think someone needs to do something about that, take some action." [...]

So, remember Westminster residents with a copy of Parklife: vote Dave Rowntree on Thursday 3rd May.

More about the elections here, and don't miss Labour-TV! And if you have forgotten about Blur, this is how it once began.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Photos from Prague

My sister’s fiancé Per-Erik, excellent with the camera, has sent me some photos from our days in Prague. Enjoy!

The wonderful Old Square:

My mum Gunnel, girlfriend Emma, me, and sister Anna (close to the Czech parliament):

My dear friend Jan Hamacek and me in the speaker’s chair in the Czech parliament. Yes, we know each other from ECOSY, and if you wonder why I look proud, it is because Jan is now head of the Foreign Relations Committee:

My sister Anna (who is becoming a mother in July!) and me:

Having a beer in the classic pub U Fleku:

A little street close to where we had dinner Satuday night; U Zlaté studne:

This museum was not the best one on Earth, but the films they showed from 1968 and 1989 were interesting:
[Thanks for sending the photos Per-Erik]

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Happy Easter

I am in a hotel lobby in Prague, currently on a private trip for the Easter holidays with my mum Gunnel, girlfriend Emma, sister Anna, and sister's boyfriend Per-Erik. As y'all should know, this is a great city, but now we are off for dinner. So: Happy Easter everyone, more photos etc when I get home!


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Greens into Finnish government

The new Finnish government (“Vanhanen II”) has just been presented; the Center party will govern with the Conservatives, the Swedish Peoples’ Party AND the Greens. It seems like a pretty smart move by Vanhanen (!?); in this way he moves the Green party into his own block (away from the leading opposition party, the Social Democrats). So, we are officially in opposition in Finland as well. Hope they will start regrouping soon.
[Photo of the Finnish Parliament taken by your blogger. Thanks for quick information, Dan].

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Articles like this makes me want to go to the movies.

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Eldkvarn plays at the Södra Teatern on the 27th of April. Guess who has four tickets in the middle of the front row? Review of the new album here.

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Aktuellt i Politiken this week: Editorial, article about Royal’s campaign in France, and the social democratic election analysis.

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And: The team that is my favorite pastime – Liverpool FC – made me very happy as I had a few pints last night. How far can we go this year? Can we beat Chelski? Articles in The Guardian and Liverpool Echo.

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