Sunday, 7 August 2016

SOUTH AFRICA STICKING OUT



South Africa Sticking Out
It has happened again – South Africa comes with a surprise. Signs were clearly pointing towards a continuous decline in all sorts of ways, and one of the main reasons for this was a ruling party that had become complacent and too comfortable in being at the helm.
Of course many were those who were not taken by this positive surprise. But having come back recently as I have to the country (26 July), I have indeed been positively surprised by the local elections that took place last Wednesday.
Corruption in high places, for example the president spending more than ZAR 150 million on his own home for his retirement in Nkandla, and some months ago the president sacking the current finance minister Mr Nnene (a member of the Lutheran church ELCSA nogal), for no other reason than this Nnene having opposed spending massive sums of money on Russian nuclear technology, and other things as well have made it look very bleak for South Africa.
But now the local elections – they were free and fair – and were done in an atmosphere of good will and acceptance of there being a multiparty democracy.
The media coverage has been extensive – so, for example, public television as well as independent channels have sent reports around the clock. Much of it has been from the local scene, with interviews with local people. Thanks to such coverage it was possible to enjoy the flavour of the various parts of the country, so richly endowed with a diversity of peoples, languages, cultures and climates.
So South Africa is sticking out, not least in relation to the rest of the continent. What we saw was democracy at work. In some ways these elections were more impressive even than the first democratic elections that were held in 1994. Why do I say that? These were of course absolutely historical, unique and one thing was at stake: give the people the mandate to do away with apartheid once and for all.
Now it was a different story. The party that symbolizes the new South Africa, the ANC, had now become a party with entrenched power on all levels, and all signs were there to tell that there was no willingness to give up any such position. The ambivalent description of the party as a liberation movement and as a political party in a multiparty world is to this day ominous. In similar places (read Zimbabwe) that is how such a party fairly easily has been able to argue that they are, and always will be the party for the country, and as president Zuma vividly described it, “we will rule until Jesus comes back”.
It was impressive seeing the leadership of the country, with president Zuma in the lead, being assembled at the IECs (Independent Electoral Commission) announcement last night, giving the final results of the election.
What we are talking about is not a national shift of power, this was a local election, but a blow to a number of former ANC strongholds locally. This was the case especially when it came to the urban metropolitan areas. So ANC has lost the majority in Nelson Mandela Bay (Port Elizabeth), Johannesburg and Tswane (Pretoria). Cape Town was already in the hands of the Democratic Alliance. This party DA has now made such substantial inroads in these mentioned areas and will at least be at the helm in one of them (Nelson Mandela Bay).
The election day(s) went very peacefully, but in the months before there were incidents of severe violence, in KwaZuluNatal for example several candidates were murdered. It seems to have been an intra-party problem rather than an inter-party problem and the incidents mentioned here were from within the ANC.
More than anything else, I am simply impressed by the people of South Africa. They have shown resilience, grace, magnanimity, patience and now also maturity in the sense that they seem to understand that building a functioning democracy takes time. Twenty-two years down the line and we get this kind of election! Great.
The third biggest party, the EFF (Economic Freedom Front) did also well but lags behind the two bigger ones in numbers. In Sunday Times ZA editorial of 7 August one can read: “The EFF also showed in these polls that it is no one-election wonder, and that, unlike the soon-to-be defunct Congress of the People, it is here to stay. It would be disappointed that it did not win any municipality, but the party did well enough to be regarded as a kingmaker in a number of hung councils.”
This means that in order to gain an overall majority in for example Tswane or Johannesburg, the ANC or the DA would have to make a deal with one of the smaller parties, like EFF, then becoming a “kingmaker”.
Two more comments; first, one cannot help saying that the current leaders in all the major parties do not exactly measure up in stature to expectations. Maybe they are becoming more like the type of politicians that we are used to in the west. The new leader of the DA, Mmusi Maimane does not impress one, but I still know too little about him. The two leading women now in the background did also not impress me much from what I heard. Patricia de Lille, the Cape Town Mayor, said on Friday night that the ANC definitely are racist. And the last few days there was another example of the former party leader Hellen Zille’s arrogance when she had tweeted about a University of Cape Town student that she perhaps was not worthy of her student bursary (probably the worst thing you can say a year after the fees-must-fall-campaign among South African university students, and one should not be surprised if Zille knew exactly that).
These things do not impress one. So is the ANC so much better? Certainly not; racial slur has been prevalent the last few years which has made the debate very base, very low.
What impresses me though is the fact that the ANC leadership showed up last night in full force, just to listen to a long list of ANC defeat, and formally accepting the outcome of course. I think that is democracy in operation. How long that will last is another thing, but when it comes to South Africa, one would never ever lose hope.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Olof Palme murdered 30 years ago - what is the meaning of closure?



The rhetoric of Olof Palme – is it today a matter of pride or irrelevance?
Five minutes ago it was precisely 30 years since Olof Palme was murdered on a street in central Stockholm. There is a lot to say about this tragic event, as well as about how it is remembered by the people of Sweden.
The commemoration this time is telling. Thirty years have passed and yet there is no closure. The murderer is not identified according to the police, even though the Palme family think they know who it was (Christer Pettersson, a loner and an alcoholic, now dead). Few Swedes believe that the murder was just an act by a lunatic, a thing done at random. There is, still after thirty years, a sense that there is more to it, much more.
Two documentaries were sent on Swedish TV 4 on Wednesday and Thursday evenings last week, produced by Ellung. These very skilfully made documentaries clearly prove two things: very few Swedish leaders have had such an international outreach as Palme, but on the domestic scene rather than on the wider scene, Palme was either intensely hated or loved.
At the time of his death there were people in Sweden who seriously thought that Palme was a security risk. Why was this so?
Internationally he caught attention when he marched against USA’s war in Vietnam. He marched with the Communists of north Vietnam. He was consistent in his criticism of those violating human rights. He early on spoke powerfully against apartheid South Africa as well as Smith’s Rhodesia. For example, when visiting Zambia in the 1970s he declared to his host Kaunda whilst looking southwardly towards Rhodesia/Zimbabwe: here we are facing the border of decency. I once met an African pastor in northern South Africa who had had a vision in connection with Palme’s visit to Zambia and he told me that Palme was sent by God. He subsequently named the son born soon after to Olof Palme, as first names!
Palme was, to be sure, seen very differently on the domestic scene. To start with, within the Social Democratic party itself there were various inhibitions regarding him as a leader. His bright intellect and high mobility made it difficult to be on par with him. In addition he came from a genuinely bourgeois family on Östermalm in Stockholm, and was to start with a total alien when it came to the labour movement. But, and make no mistake about it, he made the social democratic party his own and he was absolutely consistent in his convictions.
For example he made a statement that was crystal clear to everyone who cared to listen, saying: I am a democratic socialist, and I am proud of it. He did indeed mean it literally, but still this is just the remaining question, even after thirty years, what did this exactly entail?
One interviewee said in the documentary that everybody in Palme’s surrounding was much more on the left than the whole present Social Democratic government (coalition government together with the Environmentalists). So he said (Jan Guillou): that means that what happened around Palme at that time (in the 1980s) is purely history and can hardly be related to what takes place within this party today. I am of the opinion that there was, and still is this resentment against Olof Palme within his own party.
Secondly, one has to deal with the opposition. Sweden has had an opposing coalition for decades now, which is a kind of centre-right coalition. There was reason to recall some of the debates that took place before elections. Palme was in general just superior. In a debate with Torbjörn Fälldin, of the Centre Party who was Prime Minister at the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s, Palme simply “cut him to pieces”. But it was done in such a highhanded way that the sympathy went to Fälldin instead of Palme.
It is not difficult to understand that the capitalists of Sweden intensely disliked the existence of Palme, and it came to an absolute confrontation when the Social Democrats, together with the Labour Union, tried to enforce the introduction of “löntagarfonder”, huge state funds that would draw capital from the private sector; this was however stopped at the last minute.
A good question remains to be answered: what did this being a democratic socialist entail?
The remainder of my comment on Olof Palme, our most gifted politician ever, will contain three things. But let me first add: it is one thing that he was disliked by many, but as a person, and anyone with senses must understand that rhetoric in debate is one thing and does not warrant a judgment on the whole person, he was very accommodating, fair and evidently easy to get along with.
I want to comment on three things. First, why was he so soft on the communists? Secondly, why did Swedish police and media handle his murder in such a bad way? Finally I want to say something about the fact that things have changed since 1986 to such an extent that one could be justified to ask what relevance Olof Palme could possibly have today.
He freely associated with various communist leaders, especially in the socalled third world; in a way that is what you did in those days if you had any leftist tendencies. So there was Fidel Castro and there were leaders in Vietnam, Cambodja, there was a Moammar Khadaffi etc. In hindsight one has to admit that many of these associations do not sit well with a democratic understanding of life. Palme repeatedly expressed criticism against violent acts among communist regimes in principle, but was soft on these at specific occasions. For example in 1982 foreign submarines invaded Swedish waters and everybody understood that the Russians were coming (this is an old saying in Sweden about the enemy from the east, i.e. the Sovjets). Palme expressed concern but never pointed out any particular suspect, but the day came when a submarine from the Soviet Union was stranded in open air on the Swedish coastline of Karlskrona.
A simple answer could be that Palme simply was quite far out on the left, but did not want to achieve his goals with violence but with democratic means, i.e. peaceful means.
Ellung’s documentaries are merciless in revealing two things: the total mess that the Stockholm police proved to be, losing possible leads from the very start. It was Friday night, for God’s sake, and in Sweden things close down. While the police were in disarray, media were simply absent. Swedish television did only send the news of Palme’s death at 04h00 a.m. and then he had already been dead for 4½ hours! Leading social democrats got phone calls from England and USA as news channels there already had picked up what had happened. Several questions have to be asked. What is wrong with this country? Why could we not even be on the alert and react swiftly when such a tragic thing takes place? Secondly, one almost gets the sense that some of the police at least (rather not media, for they were basically “in love” with Palme) were rather loathing anything that had to do with Olof Palme.
My third comment should be far more extensive than it could be allowed to be at this moment. It has to do with a strong sense I have that the whole world around Palme including himself somehow has lost relevance. We do live in a different world now.
He paved the way for some of it. He did not come to see changes in South Africa, nor in the Soviet Union for that matter. And what would he have said about the collapse of this world power? A good question.
Another ten years beyond Palme’s era could live off the ideals that were forged in the decades before about a democratic world with justice for all. Still 1996 we were able to say that many things have been achieved and one would naturally think about the fall of apartheid South Africa, the fall of the Berlin wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union. There was also a sense, and Palme embodied exactly this conviction, that it was possible to build this kind of world on the basis of human good will (and mind you, free will). Deep down the human is endowed with goodness and the role of the politician is simply to open the doors for it, give people their freedom and things will start happening by themselves.
We are writing 2016 or see it printed in our almanacs or find it on the cell phone. It is a different time now. Peace does not come just like that. Democracy is not born naturally as soon as there is space for it so to speak. If we in 1986 were prepared to fight the big issues, and rightly so, in 2016 it stands very clear that what is hindering development and progress, peace and stability is some kind of evil. It is there, in human beings, and between human beings. I simply don’t know how politicians are called to deal with evil in our midst.
Nothing of what was done from the 1986 onwards should be seen to have been in vain, but a sobering fact is that we have not at all achieved what we thought we had achieved.
Evil is around and how does one tackle it?
There can only be glimpses in terms of reflections here but I want to end with one last comment. There is one learning that could sustain the whole situation at this very moment (the war in Syria, the resurgence of a Stalinist cult in Russia, the advance of Isis, and frustrated, alienated Islamists in Western European capitals, etc.) and that is what took place in South Africa after the down fall of apartheid. The wisdom of the leadership in the 1990s cannot be overestimated. It was decided, and leaders like Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu were far from the only ones to appear on the scene, to sort out the past history of violence and oppression and racism with a view to, not primarily of meeting out severe punishments, but to finding the truth, the perpetrators, the victims and their various shades, and in doing that seeking an outcome of reconciliation. And we know now that reconciliation goes with forgiveness.
This learning is the only lesson that we have now that can sustain us today. Already a lot of those reconciliatory measures have been forgotten and again, there is rhetoric of the need for justice without mercy, reminding one of the rhetoric also of Olof Palme, on the domestic scene as well as on the international scene.
2016 is a different era and the sense is that pretty little can be drawn from what was going on in the 1980s. We should therefore now, not least we as Swedes, allow Olof Palme to rest in peace. His family wants it that way. The rest of us should concede.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Refugees and a United Nordic State



Socialist immigrant policy and a Nordic state
The leader of the leftist party, the socialists, Jonas Sjöstedt, is perhaps the only party leader at this time who has a well thought through policy on immigration and who sticks to it all the way. His argument is simple and straightforward. Those fleeing from conflict and war are welcome. It is a moral obligation to receive them. We have to trust people’s own stories but at the same time we have mechanisms by which we can deal with those who are extremists or  have come to abuse our welfare state (this latter statement is implied but seldom spelt out). We will eventually manage even the influx of a great number of people. Whatever we do, we must avoid putting up fences or stopping people at the border.
He is in fact an advocate of a humane, refugee politics. In a discussion between him and the Christian Democrat leader, he is the more consistent one while she comes out as clearly populist, possibly just taking chances to score short term political points.
What Sjöstedt here says is very much on par with Christian conviction regarding what should be a humane way of dealing with people in such a dire situation. I also recall how Sjöstedt (I have no idea of his own personal convictions, but that is here absolutely secondary) once applauded the work done by Church of Sweden in Stockholm running a home for the aged. He did it publicly and with emphasis. I do not forget it because that kind of comment you seldom or never get from any of the party leaders all of whom know what it means to be politically correct; one does not give credit openly to what the church does, just like that.
However, having said all this, the dream of a socialist society, with no doubt some very strong Christian roots (just think of Acts 4.32-37, on living in community of property [egendomsgemenskap]), has its limitations. History tells us, probably more than anything else here, that the working out of such splendid ideas is difficult. I would like to add my own understanding of this dilemma. In order to achieve what you want to achieve you need people to toe the line. Equality requires this in order to fulfil this dream, but that is the same thing as to say that you bring in a fatal element of coercion. If you do a number of other side effects come in, perhaps due to the sinful nature of all of us. You feel bound to build a society civil society is curbed and the state more and more will tell you what to do, and eventually those privileged in the Party will form their “nomenclatura”.
Interestingly, exactly the same element is conspicuously present in the new party Feminist Initiative. For example they would, if they came into power, institute compulsory education for men so as to make them conform to the feminist ideology.
With this one reservation then, I am still encouraged to draw up a scenario that is too far-fetched ever to be experienced by any of us, not even the younger generation would probably never come near it; too bad, too sad.
My point is that the thrust made visible in Jonas Sjöstedt’s comments could be made use of in a Nordic set up. Let me explain. On one level it is very simple. The Nordic states plus the Baltic states (it works out as a formula 5 + 3) would be a geo-politically very exciting and constructive prospect. It would be big enough to play a weighty role in the wider politics. But why even mention it now as it is not a realistic option any longer? We cannot move the clock back more than one hundred years.
And yet, it could be worth the while to envisage such a country, not least in our present predicament.
I am here tempted to use a few stereotypes. It is perhaps unfair, but we still live in a free society where I can say quite a number of things. Denmark and Norway seem at this stage, at least from a Swedish perspective as quite egotistic, sometimes with a tinge of Schade Freude. Regarding Denmark it is exactly the issue of immigration that is at stake. Denmark has since 10 – 15 years embarked on a much restrictive immigration and refugee politics and at this moment there is quite a sharp divide in the Öresund, the straits going between our two countries. Norway is different. They always were the small brother and the poor one too. This is now changed, a gradual post Second World War phenomenon, so that, thanks to the North Sea oil findings not least, today the situation is in reverse: Sweden is the poorer one, while Norway has everything. For example, today, a young Norwegian in the capital Oslo would be used to being served coffee at any of the bars or cafeterias there by a Swedish young man or woman.
Iceland is just aloof, and to the average Swede Iceland might be an exotic place but not much more. Finland, again, very close to us by the sheer fact of a longstanding large group of immigrants from Finland in our midst, and yet quite different. Fewer and fewer Finns want to learn Swedish and Finnish is to a Swede a very difficult language. We have a centuries’ long history together with Finland (it was then an integral part of Sweden) but they also have a century together with Russia, a co-existence far more in the positive than the average Sweden likes to think.
A lot could be said about the Baltic states, but I have to leave that out at this time. There are very strong sentiments in favour of Sweden and the other Nordic countries as well, but it would be premature at this stage to talk about coming together towards something more like a federative relationship.
I nearly forgot the Swedes. It must be that I also stereotype ourselves. And it scares me because I think it is not even a stereotype but a truth. It is our unassuming gullibility and naiveté. If people say something we believe them. If the refugee says that he lost his passport on the voyage between Turkey and Greece, the Swedish immigration officer believes him, literally, just like that. This gullibility is going to cost us a lot. It is perhaps good that we are not suspicious in the first place but rather give a newcomer the benefit of the doubt, but liars, fraudsters, criminals and other corrupt people have to be found out, where ever they come from.
So there we are; never before, in modern times, have we been so far apart as Nordics. Even an EU commissioner the other day called for more of co-operation in the whole Nordic region.
There is a movement in favour of a Nordic state, even though you don’t hear much about it. One of the proponents is Gunnar Wetterberg, a leading scholar at the union Swedish Academics’ Central Organization, a well-known historian, also a member of the Royal Academy of Science. Historically there have been two problems: the Danish and the Swedish remained adversaries through the years, could never see eye to eye and at the same time Russians were a continuous threat from the east. The Nordic nations have lived in piece with each other ever since 1809. For about 20 years the Russians have not been a threat (1990 – 2010), otherwise they have and they are.
Wetterberg has a thought provoking explanation as to why the Nordics never got their act together into one great nation. The cause of this not happening has not been the internal strives after all. The main reason is external. Other neighbouring nations (and I here leave out all the details) early on saw clearly that a Nordic nation would be to their disadvantage and simply a threat. So there were many ways in which each Nordic state could be manipulated into the one alliance after the other, one more unholy than the other.
I now want to put Sjöstedt’s scenario of how to receive and treat people coming in, whoever they are, together with the notion of a Nordic state, encompassing at least Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Finland and Sweden. With some long term planning such a nation would have an enormous capacity to take in more people. There is infra-structure and there is space. There is a common understanding of a religious tradition undergirding the common life of the people. At the same time there is enough of differentiation between the various population groups that incoming people would from the start find it possible to some extent to remain in their own self-understanding while gradually adapting to the new situation. And that goes for everything, language, religion, culture, traditions, etc.
The intake of migrants into Sweden during 2015 will probably end up with more than 140 000, half the number was predicted and it is the highest number in Europe per capita.
It may seem irresponsible to start dreaming under the circumstances, but as Olof Palme once said, “politik är att vilja” (politics is the will [to do something]): “Politics is to have a will to change because change gives promises about improvement, feeds the imagination and the action power, and is a stimulant to dreams and visions” (Speech at the congress of the Social Democratic Youth Organization, Stockholm 12 May 1964).
It is a shame on us as Nordics that the level of co-operation is at its lowest for many years, and I think it is good to be reminded that this state of affairs comes at a cost.
We have enough of managers in politics these days. Many of our party political leaders are groomed within the party apparatus and know little else. They certainly are a disaster when it comes to the requirements of leadership in a time of crisis. We are there now. Löfvén is our Prime Minister (Statsminister sounds much more elegant) and he is not a “broiler politician”, but he does not seem to get the bigger picture at this time round.
So, what I say here remains a dream, but leadership more often than not has to do with ideals and dreams (for the sake of the people) that seem completely unattainable. Maybe the Nordic region has been too peaceful for the last two hundred years. One would just have hoped that we could learn more directly from giants such as Nelson Mandela, who has been held so highly here in the Nordic countries, who said at the height of his and South Africa’s crisis,
not knowing whether he would get the death sentence at the socalled Rivonia trial in 1963: “During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die”. (Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom. London: Abacus, 1995)
This unbending (political) will is what we need now. Miracles may still happen.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Leadership Collapse



Sweden now: Leadership Collapse not System Collapse
Right now there are many voices making them heard about the present influx of migrants, be they refugees from the Middle East or something else. What is laid bare is our own almost total unpreparedness and belief that somehow the crisis will abate of its own accord.
The last few days even our government has realized that this is no so. It is easy here to be judgemental and probably unfair; Bundeskanzler Angela Merkel has herself made a 180 degrees turn around and thereby caused a lot of confusion as to Germany’s actual willingness to accept all the migrants now coming in.
So let me say first that it is easy to be judgemental about a situation which was difficult if not impossible to predict not so long ago.
Having said this I still mean that the current situation in Sweden lays bare our current political leadership and by that I mean the current party political leadership. What you see is embarrassing.
In order to understand the current dilemma one has to take into account the existence of a right wing, populist party, the Swedish Democrats, SD,  now the third largest party; this is of course the common feature in West European politics these days. The one issue is of course that of immigration and the SD is clear: the influx of immigrants has to be cut down drastically. If you want to help refugees, do so via international organizations in the existing refugee camps (in the Middle East).
The resultant attitude from the rest is to denounce such refugee politics. The litmus test right now has become: you cannot say, “we must cut down on the number of immigrants coming in”. You cannot say that. Yesterday border controls were set up in southern Sweden, checking trains from Copenhagen and ferries from Germany. The Minister of Interior is then asked whether this would mean that fewer people would be allowed to enter. The answer is a given: not at all, but we need to have order and control of what is happening (ordning och reda). This is now the current mantra, ordning och reda, that helps you as a politician to avoid the unutterable (thanks to the politics of the Swedish Democrats) “we have to cut down on the number of refugees coming in”.
However, so far, it is not at all the system that has collapsed, but the leadership, supposed to be. For example, the decision to take up border control was a suggestion coming from “the system”, namely the department of immigration, which has severe difficulties at the moment to manage the situation. On this suggestion the Prime Minister acted.
What we see is a leadership crisis not made any easier due to the governing coalition (Social Democrats and the Green Party) which is a minority government. The Prime Minister, Stefan Löfvén is a very good man, a person with integrity, somebody to trust, has union background. But under the circumstances it is as if he does not know what to do. Caution rules the day and it is a going forwards and backwards, not knowing what is next.
In leadership terminology one has to say that what we see is very little leadership but a lot of attempts at doing management. But it is not enough at this time to just do management. If you do not know where you are going with things, management becomes a very precarious thing. Are you sure you manage the things at hand in the right direction? So leadership is lacking, sorely.
It does not help much looking askance. The opposition is divided like anything. The new leader of the Moderate Party, Anna Kinberg Batra has wanted to be more restrictive on immigration, but could not say it in so many words, but lately there has been a tendency in that direction (as a young politician from Stockholm she had the guts to utter, “Stockholmare är smartare än lantisar”, [ roughly, “Stockholm people are smarter than those from the country”]). The Christian Democrats has a new, very young leader, Ebba Busch-Thor. She cannot really help that she is inexperienced and this is compensated for in different ways. She comes up with, as it seems, ever more conservative suggestions. Two days ago she suggested that immigrants seeking asylum should be confined to a certain area (most likely in the Malmö region in the south) where they would have to stay until their fate was clarified. In a debate with the leader of the Leftist Party (The Socialist Party), Jonas Sjöstedt, the latter retorted, “do you then intend to put up barbed wire around such an area or how are you going to confine them”. Her totally unprepared comment was: “that will be something for the police to sort out”.
The leader of the Liberal Party, Jan Björklund, has been nowhere to be seen or heard. The Centre Party leader, a young woman, Annie Lööf, is gifted and clever and understands a great deal of the dynamics around immigration, has remained completely open to immigration, but focuses on how to get immigrant into work and into responsible citizens as soon as possible.
Finally, Jimmy Åkesson, leader of the Swedish Democrats; we know the mantra: cut down on immigration, drastically. He should be allowed to say this, and it is a fatal mistake not to allow him to take part in the wider discussion in the political arena.
The great problem is not that he and the party say what they say on this issue. The real problem is the grounds on which this is said. Lurking behind the policy is an idea of a pure Swedishness now risking to get lost. It’s about culture, language, looks, history, a nationalistic outlook, etc.
Back to the Social Democrats; why do they not perform? They have been the ruling party during most of the years since Sweden constitutionally became a democracy. They have built the welfare state which is (or was) Sweden. They made sure that a most progressive and fair system of arbitration was instituted between employers and workers (unions). Sweden was one of the first countries in terms of law to make it possible for the unions to be represented on various company boards, etc.
But when it comes to the leadership of the party things have gone awry. Is it because of the sinister infighting that takes place within the party structures each time a new leader is able to be identified? Be that as it may, but the Social Democrats are, still to this day, endowed with very high profile leaders, you look for them and you will find them elsewhere. Those I am thinking of are not of the youngest, but they could still play much of a role. Some examples: Jan Eliasson, still assistant General Secretary of the United Nations, Margot Wallström, current Minister of Foreign Affairs (could play a much more decisive role as Prime Minister), some now retired diplomats, but who could still play an important role in the present crisis, like Sten Rylander and Anders Oljelund.
So where is the leadership in Sweden right now to be found? In the political arena? Not really. I am looking toward the church, not least the Church of Sweden. We have after all an Archbishop in Uppsala. That, if anything, is a leadership position, an ideal position for someone with experience to be able to speak to, not only the nation-wide and world-wide church but also a stage, from which to address the nation as such.
We are looking toward the still quite new Archbishop Antje Jackelén, who grew up in Germany and thus a person who could or should have rapport with a leader like Angela Merkel. But I cannot hear anything coming from her side. It is very silent…