Juholt, who has been the leader of the Social Democrats for nearly seven months, last week experienced what some in the party now call "the Black Friday". The day when the newspaper Aftonbladet revealed that he had sought benefits for an apartment and got all the rent paid by the parliament, although he is only entitled to half the amount. Altogether a sum of SEK160000 he was not entitled to.
After a quarrel with the public broadcaster SVT, the party leadership chose not to participate in a TV debate and, say critics, this resulted in more airtime and attention to the oppositional role of the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats.
Strike three on Friday came when the local Social Democratic Politician Ilmar Reepalu in Malmö Suggested a large policy shift when it comes to immigration, including proposals for a concept of a second, temporary, citizenship, so it would become easier to deport immigrants who had committed crimes. This was supported by Morgan Johansson, the party spokesperson on these issues. But this sharp turn in an important policy area aroused outrage in the party, and Juholt went out and explained that the proposal is not relevant for the party. Later, Johansson claimed that the proposal in fact had been sanctioned by Juholt’s own staff, and that he himself had been stabbed in the back.
And this black Friday only followed a very messy process of determining the party's shadow budget, where party leaders were rebuffed by the Parliamentary Group during several stormy meetings.
During the last couple of days Swedish media have been full of conflicting information about when and how Juholt found out that he had done wrong. Was it, as Juholt argued, an unconscious mistake to ask for too much money, or was he in the past repeatedly informed that his claims for housing benefits were inaccurate? New revelations have followed that Juholt also requested for dual compensation for travels.
The mood among the party's voters are said to be very upset. A few people at a lower level in the party has requested that Juholt resign. No one has spoken out in his defence.
According to sources to the public broadcaster SVT, the party leadership now seeks to persuade Juholt to resign voluntarily. There is talk of catastrophe and that the party has "fallen into a black hole".
But the fear does not end with a possible departure of Juholt. He was chosen after a bruising leadership battle that almost shattered the party. A new process without an obvious successor could be even more damaging and thus fatal to the party.