The Swedish Social Democratic Youth League (Sveriges Socialdemokratiska Ungdomsförbund, abbreviated SSU) is a social democratic youth organisation in Sweden, affiliated with the Swedish Social Democratic Party and the Swedish Trade Union Confederation.
The Social Democratic Youth League was formed in 1917, after the previous social democratic youth organization, Socialdemokratiska Ungdomsförbundet (SDUF, Social Democratic Youth League) broke with the party and formed Sveriges Socialdemokratiska Vänsterparti (Social Democratic Left Party of Sweden), that would (after several splits and name changes) eventually become the Left Party of today.
Many Swedish Social Democratic politicians have started their political career in the organisation, including Olof Palme, Ingvar Carlsson, Bosse Ringholm and Anna Lindh. Younger politicians that have followed their path from the youth league into the Cabinet are Morgan Johansson, Lena Hallengren and Ibrahim Baylan.
The members form local clubs, but also belong to a municipal organisation (SSU-kommun) that are grouped together in regional organisations, in general following the county subdivisions, with the exceptions Stockholm County (two districts: Stockholm and Stockholms Län) and Västra Götaland County (five districts: Bohuslän, Göteborg, Norra Älvsborg, Södra Älvsborg, Skaraborg).
SSU has worked hard in forming public opinion and introducing new ideas within the motherparty. In recent years SSU made the party adopt feminism as a base for society analysis and the organisation have also been successful in its campaign to make the parliament give homosexuals the right to get married and adopt children.
Being a radical socialist force within the Swedish labour movement, strongly influenced by Marxism, SSU formed many new ideas of how to achieve socialism with democratic, parliamentarian means during the seventies and eighties. During this period SSU's support for radical freedom movements in the third world, like those in South Africa and Nicaragua, were huge, and the organisation has always had very good international contacts.
In the beginning of the nineties the right wing gained in influence, taking inspiration from New Labour and Gerhard Schröder, and took a firm grip of the organisation using its funds to oppress the left wing. The right wing's ideas, influenced by Antony Giddens, are pro-market economy and are more socialliberal in their analysis of society and the world. During the peak of the right-wing rule, socialism was almost completely erased from the organisation's program. Although SSU has always positioned itself as radical in issues of environment, anti-racism, gay rights and women's issues.
After the congress in 2005, where the factions split the power and the right-wing majority allowed a more socialist program there is hope that the faction clashing now will cease.
With more than claimed 20,000 members (the organisation had more than 100,000 members during its height in the 1950s), the Swedish Social Democratic Youth League is the country's largest political youth organisation. During the spring of 2005, however, a number of scandals revealed systematical cheating with membership figures in a numerous districts. Some districts, for example in Södermanland, had to cut their membership number in half. This scandal has spread all the way up to the cabinet - ministers like Ibrahim Baylan, Lena Hallengren as well as finance minister Pär Nuder have served in SSU at the time of alleged frauds. This is very serious, as different governmental organisations fund political groups like SSU based on its membership. Many millions SEK may have been fraudulently obtained over the years. Malpractices have also been revealed in other youth leagues. One of the governmental organisations, the Swedish Youth Board (Ungdomsstyrelsen), have recently reported both the SSU and Ung Vänster to the police.
The scandals are also connected to the fierce rivalry between SSU's right and left wing. The right-wingers are more reform-minded and positive towards the EU, while the left-wing is more traditionally socialist. The right-wing also tends to be more loyal to the mother party, which generally is more moderate than SSU. Inflated membership figures have been used by districts, like the right-wing one in Norrbotten, to obtain more deputies to the congress, giving more say over policy and positions. Norrbotten lost almost half of its members when the scandal went public, overall many districts lost a serious amount of members who falsely were kept in the membership lists. Many believe that the right-wing will be the minority when the affair is all cleared out because the left-wing, of idealistic reasons, were not so found of cheating. Altogether the organisation went from 29.000 members to 19.000 and the number may drop further in January 2006 and 2007.
This rivalry was the source of some controversy during 2004 and 2005 as it was revealed that the chairman, the reformer Ardalan Shekarabi, had used funds from an integration project to finance his leadership campaign. Eventually he had to resign, and after that there have been signs of reconciliation. At the congress in 2005 a deal was made which gave the leadership to the right-wing while the left-wing got the secretary position. The opposition's success in the polls during much of 2005 has also unified SSU, as its members have sought to defeat the opposition outside their party rather than within it.
On January 29, 2006, SSU was once again hurt by controversy as chairman Anna Sjödin was arrested by the police outside the club Crazy Horse in Stockholm. According to the bouncer, a drunk Sjödin first insulted the bouncer, and then sneaked up behind him and somehow managed to get a strangling hold on him. The bouncer also claimed that Sjödin used derogatory words - alluding to the fact that he was an immigrant - as well as stating that he was "just the kind of immigrant we don't want in this country". Sjödin, however, claims that the bouncers assaulted her and her friends and has filed a lawsuit against the bouncer for physical abuse (repeated hitting with baton), insulting (calling her "fucking cunt" and "fucking bitch") and false accusations (that he in his lawsuit against her claimed that she had called him a "fucking darkie"). Sjödin has been released from custody.