An entry at Eric Sundstr√∂m’s blog started me thinking about the comparisons between the leaders of the UK’s two main parties now David Cameron has taken over as leader of the Tories, and the situation in Sweden where Fredrik Reinfeldt is up against Goran Persson. Other than giving the opportunity for some gruesome work with Photoshop on the leaders’ faces, there are some interesting parallels to be drawn.
Any party gets tired when in government. So what do you do about it, and how should an opposition party challenge a governing party that has been reasonably successful? And how should the governing party respond?
(1) Get a credible leader
Both the Moderates and the Tories seem to have done this in their own way, with young and credible candidates challenging the incumbents. However, the styles they have gone for a very different. Cameron can be more charming and photogenic than Blair, challenging him at his own game. Reinfeldt looks more like a second hand car salesman that you would not really trust.
(2) Beat the others at their own game
As UK politics seems to be shaping up once more as a battle of style over substance, so Swedish politics seems to be quite different, with statistics and the record of the Social Democrats coming in for scrutiny.
(3) Any party that does not rejuvinate itself faces major problems
Any party in government starts to look a bit battered and weary after a while. This happened to the Tories in the period to 1997 and it has taken them until now to adjust. Labour has realised it can’t carry on for ever with Blair, and will get a new leader. Persson soldiers on in Sweden and is trying to defend his record. It might just work one more time… On the other hand, if Labour goes for Gordon Brown to succeed Blair, will that just play into the hands of Cameron?
Fingers crossed that the new challenge of the right is beaten off in both cases, and in the UK at least, politics really seems to have become interesting again!