I will interrupt the blogation just to note that the autumn in Swedish politics will be every bit as interesting as the autumn in Danish politics with (at least) two parties facing leadership elections.
That Maud Olofsson would step down as leader as the Centre Party was not that surprising (after all, she has been party leader for a decade now) but both the process and the possible outcomes will give Helgeandologues plenty to talk about. Olofsson was a significant figure as she anchored the Centre Party in the centre-right bloc and was instrumental in forming and sustaining “the Alliance”. On the other hand, her tenure also effectively saw the party abandon the attempts to break (back) into the urban electorate and lowering its environmental profile. So the problems facing the party is if it should be a niche party concentrating on (rural) small entrepreneurs, a party for the Swedish periphery or somehow reinvent itself as a liberal party. The two names mentioned at the moment – Annie Johansson and Anna-Karin Hatt – probably point in the first and third directions. Exactly how the fight for the party leadership will be performed – an open competition or a behind-closed-doors valberedning – remains to be seen.
Lars Ohly has had a rough ride as leader of the Left Party. Ohly was always a man of the traditional left-wing of the labour movement identifying with the party’s communist past where the in many ways erratic but also engaging Gudrun Schyman managed to broaden the party’s image in the same way leaders of the Danish SF have done since the 1970s. Ohly and his political line was probably one of the reasons why the tentative coalition of Social Democrats, Greens and Left Party blew up in the 2010 campaign so the question is if and how the next leader will move back towards the line followed by Schyman. So far we have two candidates: Jonas Sjöstedt (who is generally described as a modernizer even if he also has blue-collar credentials) and Ulla Andersson who is probably closer to Ohly politically.
Let us add that the Social Democrats have a new chairman, who so far appear to be more of a traditionalist appealing to the party’s blue collar base, that the Green Party has a new set of party leaders and that the Christian Democratic leader Göran Hägglund is not out of the mire and we face the possiblity of changes in political positions and strategies among five of the eight parties in the Swedish Riksdag.