Nick Aylott, a former colleague from Umeå who is now an associate professor in political science at Södertörn College, has written a comment in the Swedish edition of The Local about the state of the Swedish Social Democracy after Mona Sahlin’s decision to step down as party leader. I hope Nick will forgive me for quoting the central part of his argument at length:
Sahlin’s own period as party chair involved an almost complete lack of leadership. Perhaps this was partly a reaction against her predecessor’s rather heavy-handed style. But it may have more to do with the party’s institutions (defined in a broad sense).
She did manage to pull the Social Democrats’ education policy towards a position that was more in line with most voters’ views. She was also responsible for the decision in 2008 to build a pre-electoral coalition with the two other left-of-centre parties (even if she was forced by her party to include the Left Party in that alliance, which proved electorally catastrophic).
But with regard to other substantive policy areas, especially economics, nothing was achieved – and, even worse, it never became at all clear what Sahlin WANTED to achieve. The manner in which she was selected as leader never involved her having to declare her candidacy, never mind set out a platform for where she wanted to take the party.
As I pretty much agree with Nick, I’ll just point you to his article for the rest.
One comment may be that the Swedish Social Democrats should avoid the curious process of 2006-2007 which involved selecting a leader by default and open the field for competing candidates. (You might want to check my review page for my comments – #1, #2 – from 2007)