• Sweden edition

Profile: Mona Sahlin

Published: 18 Jan 2007 14:04 GMT+01:00
Updated: 18 Jan 2007 14:04 GMT+01:00

Mona Sahlin (née Andersson) was born in the northern Swedish town of Sollefteå on March 19th 1957. Her family moved to Stockholm in the mid-1960s. By the time she had left the city's Södra Latin school in 1977 she had already developed a taste for politics.

As early as 1964 she embarked on her first foray into organisational life when she founded the Swedish Barbie Club.

She joined the youth branch of the Social Democrats in 1973 and became involved in the pro-FNL movement during the Vietnam War.

In 1976 she met David Peña at a Social Democrat youth camp. Though Sahlin's first child, Ann-Sofie, was born two years later, the relationship did not last.

When she was elected to the Swedish parliament in 1982 she was the assembly's youngest ever member.

It was also in 1982 that she married Bo Sahlin. The couple have had three children - Jenny, Gustav and Johan. Sahlin has talked openly about the tragic death of Johan, who passed away during the first year of his life as a result of heart trouble.

In 1990 Sahlin received her first ministerial post when she was named labour minister under Ingvar Carlsson.

Two years later she became party secretary, a post she held until 1994 when she rejoined the cabinet as equality minister.

Sahlin's rise to prominence was such that she soon became favourite to succeed Ingvar Carlsson as party leader. After he announced his resignation Sahlin soon became the sole candidate to take over.

That the party would soon receive its first ever female leader seemed little more than a formality.

But it was not to be. At least not yet. In October 1995 a scandal broke that almost ended her political career.

During the 'Toblerone affair', as it came to be known, it emerged that Sahlin had purchased a range of goods and services for private use on her ministerial credit card. The chocolate bar that symbolised the scandal was far from the most expensive item on the charge sheet.

She also made thousands of kronor worth of cash withdrawals and paid for private rental cars at her employer's expense. Sahlin maintained that she intended paying the money back but by then the damage was already done.

In the wake of the initial scandal she was also found to have hired a child minder off the books and had neglected to pay her television licence, offences that cost the careers of two ministers at the beginning of the current government's term of office.

Unpaid parking and daycare fines were also held up as examples of why she was unfit to lead the land.

Having taken a few weeks off work to consider her options she announced in November 1995 that she was withdrawing her candidacy for the post of party leader. It was only then that Göran Persson stepped up to the breach, before holding on to the top spot until the September 2006 election.

Sahlin gave up her seat in parliament in April 1996, although she did retain her position on the party's executive committee,

In 1998 she returned to the parliamentary fray. Göran Persson brought her back into the cabinet, where she remained an ever present figure until the party's election defeat in 2006.

Despite playing her part in successive governments, most recently as minister of sustainable development (2004-2006), many observers considered her days as a major political force to be over.

Even when it became obvious that the Social Democrats wanted a female leader, Sahlin's troubled past seemed to rule her out of contention.

In fact, during the summer of 2006 she was so far off the pace that bookmaker Ladbrokes was offering odds of 1000/1 on her succeeding Göran Persson as party leader.

But one by one the figures expected to come to the fore announced that they were not interested in leading the party into the 2010 election.

As Margot Wallström, Carin Jämtin, Ulrica Messing and Thomas Bodström all fell by the wayside, the first careful whispers could again be heard extolling the virtues of a certain Mona Sahlin.

Politically she is often regarded as standing to the right of the party divide. She supported Göran Persson's budget cutbacks in the 1990s, for example, and has proved open to the idea of tax breaks for domestic services.

An argument used in her favour is that she has the capacity to emulate rival Fredrik Reinfeldt by winning voters from the political middle ground.

Eleven years on from the scandal that almost finished her political career Sahlin is reputed to have become absolutely meticulous with her receipts. And she has slowly managed to win over many of the sceptics within the ranks of the Social Democrats.

While the media have debated the ins and outs of her possible candidacy, Sahlin, in true Social Democratic fashion, has remained tight-lipped.

But now the notoriously secretive nominating committee has finally unveiled her as its candidate for election at the March party congress.

Barring a repeat of her previous debacle, Mona Sahlin's 50th birthday present will be the prize that she has coveted for over a decade.

Paul O'Mahony (paul.omahony@thelocal.se)

Don't miss...X
Left Right
Today's headlines
Zlatan scores hat trick in PSG thrashing
Photo: AP

Zlatan scores hat trick in PSG thrashing

Champions Paris Saint-Germain thumped Saint-Etienne 5-0 as Bordeaux saw their 100 percent record at the start of the Ligue 1 season ended on Sunday with a 1-1 draw against Bastia. READ  

Sweden reports suspected case of Ebola
Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Sweden reports suspected case of Ebola

Officials at a Stockholm hospital reported that they had found a suspected case of the Ebola virus on Sunday night. READ  

Flash floods cause chaos in southern Sweden
A car in Malmö on Sunday. Photo: Stig-Åke Jönsson/TT

Flash floods cause chaos in southern Sweden

The Skåne region of southern Sweden was hit suddenly by extreme rains on Sunday morning, with houses flooded, buses evacuated, and people having to swim to safety from their cars. READ  

Fit-again Ibrahimovic set for PSG return
Photo: TT

Fit-again Ibrahimovic set for PSG return

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is set to make his comeback for Paris Saint-Germain against Saint-Etienne in Ligue 1 on Sunday after two weeks on the sidelines with an abdominal muscle injury. READ  

Military raises readiness level over Ukraine
Swedish soldiers in Afghanistan. File photo: Magnus Lindstedt/Armed Forces

Military raises readiness level over Ukraine

The Swedish military said Saturday it had increased intelligence gathering and called in extra staff to its headquarters over the crisis in Ukraine, as the prime minister compared Russia's current behaviour with the Cold War. READ  

Police injured in anti-Nazi protest in Stockholm
Police and demonstrators on Saturday. Photo: Fredrik Persson/TT

Police injured in anti-Nazi protest in Stockholm

Swedish police said three officers were injured Saturday as they faced a crowd of thousands protesting against a neo-Nazi rally in central Stockholm. READ  

Boy receives cancer vaccine by mistake
Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT

Boy receives cancer vaccine by mistake

A boy scheduled to be vaccinated against mumps, measles, and rubella instead received a vaccine against cervical cancer. His family has now reported the blunder for inspection. READ  

Sweden grants additional funds to jobs agency
Photo: Bertil Enevåg Ericson/TT

Sweden grants additional funds to jobs agency

The Swedish government has announced that it will increase funding to the jobs agency (Arbetsförmedlingen) in 2015, primarily to cover personnel costs but also to prevent long-term unemployment. READ  

Police 'powerless' against street racers
Police on E4 highway. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Police 'powerless' against street racers

Stockholm police said they were powerless to react when streetracers took over at "insane speeds" on a large highway on Friday night. READ  

Saab carmaker wins receivership
Photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT

Saab carmaker wins receivership

After initial rejection, a Chinese-owned company set up to take over Saab's assets after the troubled Swedish carmaker's bankruptcy said on Friday it had succeeded in being placed in receivership. READ  

Sweden's highest peak to lose title next year
How immigration became a key election issue
Brit's life in Sweden becomes BBC radio show
People-watching August 27
Top ten false friends in Swedish
Blog updates

25 August

Hit och dit, här och där (The Swedish Teacher) »

" Hej igen! A common challenge for Swedish language students are the location adverbs hit/här, dit/där, hem/hemma etc. Some of the location adverbs come in two versions. We should use one type of location adverb when we use a verb describes where we are, and we should use the other type of location adverb when we the verb..." READ »


25 August

The Dollar Store (Blogweiser) »

"A dollar store in Sweden. Blog post: http://t.co/tNuuvcP1q0 #USD #greenbacks #sweden #sverige pic.twitter.com/RHFAYf7U1k — Joel Sherwood (@joeldsherwood) August 23, 2014 There’s a chain here in Sweden called The DollarStore. This name always stood out to me in a country where they don’t use dollars. I went there for the first time this weekend. They actually accepted greenbacks..." READ »

Roma advocate scoops Wallenberg prize
Meet the man who made a Swedish store recall its high heels for kids
Business & Money
'How I came to run my own business in Sweden'
Expert explains why Sweden's election oozes uncertainty
City plays Schindler's List theme at Nazi rally
For Stockholm Fashion Week, here's the A-Z of Swedish fashion
'Amnesiac' man avoids deportation for ten years
Princess Estelle through the years
Business & Money
Swedish city all set for six-hour workday trial
Business & Money
Five golden rules for the Swedish job hunt
Sponsored Article
Graduates: Insure your income in Sweden with AEA
People-watching August 22-24
Armed royal guards caught (very) drunk on the job
Sweden orders textbook on Roma discrimination
Violent anti-Nazi demonstrations in Malmö
A closer look at Sweden's five official minority languages
See the destruction from the southern Sweden floods
'Sweden Democrats hold the key to elections'
Swedes celebrate first day of smelly fish season
Sponsored Article
Find out what gives this Swedish school executive appeal
Sponsored Article
Introducing...Your finances in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Introducing...Housing in Stockholm
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at: