With 11 days to go to the Swedish general election, pulse is rising rapidly. Not only on the ground, but also in the press at a national level.
Sunday night, Dagens Industri published a story saying that officials from the youth organisation of the liberal party Folkpartiet has spied on the Social Democrats. The story exploded during Monday and Tuesday as more and more details were revealed, and the liberals have now confirmed that they had information in advance on things like the calendar for Social Democrat media events, reports to be published and the security police communication on government ministers. This is expected to have had serious implications on the Social Democrats' opportunities to get good media coverage on its policies.
The police is investigating the story, and several high-level liberals are now suspected criminals. Tuesday afternoon, it was revealed that the liberal Party Secretary knew about this as early as in March without doing much about it. Within a couple of hours he had to resign.
Now pressure is hard on the liberal leader Lars Leijonborg, who has given name to this scandal - Leijongate. Voices are heard in the party for him to take a time-out or resign. At the same time, the liberal party's partners in the right-wing alliance are afraid that they will be sucked in to the scandal as the liberal party secretary was one of the four heads of the alliance election campaign and ties were clode between the four parties.
The effects on the election are hard to grasp at this stage. The scandal decreases trust in politics and politicians - something that social democrats suffer from as core voters stay at the sofa on polling day. We aso know that the liberal advantage in information has helped them in the campaign so far. On the other hand, voters seem to flee the liberals right now. They can go anywhere - to other alliance parties and to the nationalist Sverigedemokraterna as well as to the Social Democrats.
What we do know, is that the liberal party will go through change during the coming period. The Party Secretary who resigned, Johan Jakobsson, was heading the transformation of the liberals from a nice party that loved day-care, foreign aid and walks in the park into a party quite similar to the Danish liberal party Venstre. The tough and populist line on integration, crime and school politics has made many former liberal politicians very upset, and this energy will probably just crash within the liberal party during the months after the election.
New reports will follow shortly.