• Sweden edition

Persson finally pushes Swedish defence cuts through

Published: 16 Dec 2004 19:14 GMT+01:00
Updated: 16 Dec 2004 19:14 GMT+01:00

In practice, the bill means the military will be downsized by a third and the army transformed from a conscription-based to volunteer-based force. The government also claims the changes will make the armed forces more suitable for their role in the European Union’s rapid reaction force.

The Left Party (Vänsterpartiet), part of the red-green coalition, had held out from giving its blessing to the proposals. The party was concerned about job losses caused by military shutdowns in its northern strongholds. After long negotiations, the party agreed to support the government in return for assurances that the base in Arvidsjaur, in Norbotten, would remain open.

The bill does not mean that conscription is disappearing altogether, but reduced manpower in Sweden’s army will mean that, in practice, few people will be forced to do armed service. In the coming years the number of conscripts will be reduced to 8,300 amounting to one in seven 19-year-olds. Today the number stands at 13,500.

Starting in January 2006, military duty for conscripts will be 11 months long for all posts. Many of these posts will perform military maneuvers or be stationed abroad.

With so few places to fill and more attractive assignments, the government expects the positions to be filled more by volunteers and less by conscripts.

Hugo Hökerberg, responsible for new conscripts at the military academy said, “We have physical and psychological basic requirements for each conscription posting. If there are two or more who fulfill the requirements we will choose the one who is enthusiastic to perform these duties, especially if they are eager to serve abroad.”

The bill has its critics, with many commentators voicing their disapproval of the negotiations between the government and the Left Party.

Lena Mellin in Aftonbladet called these concessions bribery. But the Social Democrats needed the Left Party to back the decision to restructure the military. The Left Party has scored a victory in its political wrangling despite the current political weakness of party leader, Lars Ohly.

Ohly has been under the microscope for several weeks regarding his political history and his admission that he considers himself a communist. Another blow came when former party leader, Gudrun Schyman, resigned from the party last week.The party’s poll ratings have been in free fall, and many Social Democrats have been rushing to distance themselves from both the Left Party and its leader. Göran Persson was therefore under pressure from some quarters not to concede to the Left Party on the defence proposition, but in practice he needed their votes to get the bill passed.

The changes forced onto the government by the Left Party have been attacked by opposition parties for not being properly costed.

“It’s simply good manners to work out the cost of a proposal before you ask MPs to vote on it,” Eskil Erlandsson, Centre Party MP and chairman of the Riksdag’s defence committee was quoted as saying in Dagens Nyheter. Yet attempts by the opposition to get a vote on the matter postponed came to nothing.

Göran Persson may be feeling satisfied that he got his bill through parliament, but in doing so he appears to have used up a lot of his political capital. Lena Mellin in Aftonbladet summed up the disillusion among observers: “It’s probably a good thing that the parliament starts its Christmas holiday on Saturday. Many believe there’s a need for time for reflection.”

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, Aftonbladet

Elizabeth Dacey-Fondelius (news@thelocal.se)

Don't miss...X
Left Right
Today's headlines
Brit's charity tractor trek heads for Sweden
The vintage tractor ready to travel from UK to north Norway. Photo: Peter Matheson

Brit's charity tractor trek heads for Sweden

A British man is set next month to drive from Scotland, across Sweden, and to the northern tip of Norway on a vintage tractor to raise money for a cancer charity. READ  

Sweden agency hikes heat warning to 'extreme'
This canine friend is not amused. Photo: TT

Sweden agency hikes heat warning to 'extreme'

Swedish weather agency SMHI has raised its weather warning, giving notice of "extremely high temperatures" in parts of the country. READ  

Songs for a hot Swedish summer
Ted Gärdestad. Photo: TT

Songs for a hot Swedish summer

Contributor Paul Connolly has put together a list of Swedish songs to capture balmy summer days, which in his neck of the northern woods are pushing the mercury above 35c for the first time in a century. READ  

Swedes suffer as buses boil in the summer sun
Photo: TT

Swedes suffer as buses boil in the summer sun

Stockholm's local traffic authority has received almost 300 complaints since June 1st with many regarding stifling heat on the city's buses, which lack air con. READ  

Grounded flights strand Swedes in Tel Aviv
Photo: Matt Rourke/TT

Grounded flights strand Swedes in Tel Aviv

UPDATE: About 270 passengers planning to fly to Stockholm are still stranded in Tel Aviv, and airlines have stated that flights will likely be grounded on Thursday as well. READ  

The Local List
Top ten: Swedish taboos
The butter knife is for butter. Photo: Mats Sandelin/TT

Top ten: Swedish taboos

From standing in line to taking your hols in the off-season, Sweden is a society with customs and faux pas, the Danes might say taboos. Here is a list of ten to watch out for. READ  

Fears mount for Swede kidnapped in Ukraine
A tank in Horlivka. Photo: Dmitry Lovetsky/TT

Fears mount for Swede kidnapped in Ukraine

A mediator who handles prisoner exchanges between Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels said on Wednesday that he feared for the life of a kidnapped Swede. READ  

Vattenfall cuts losses despite 'tough market'
Photo: TT

Vattenfall cuts losses despite 'tough market'

Swedish power group Vattenfall said on Wednesday that second quarter losses had been cut despite trying market conditions, forecasting that energy prices were unlikely to recover in the "foreseeable future". READ  

Swedes 'most beautiful' in the Nordics
Swedish actors Peter Johansson, Anna Sahlin and Måns Zelmerlöw. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

Swedes 'most beautiful' in the Nordics

Who is the fairest of them all? Swedes are, according to the rest of the Nordic nations in a recent survey. READ  

My Swedish Career
American teams up with Swede to beat cancer
Matthew Volsky holding the Gynocoular colposcope which is used for screening cervical cancer. Photo: Gynocoular

American teams up with Swede to beat cancer

When Matthew Volsky first came to Sweden he didn't think he would stick around. Six years and a pioneering invention later he tells The Local about the medical device which is helping save lives around the world. READ  

Swedish cops elect not to shoot 'angry elks'
Business & Money
New alcohol retail rules threaten micro-breweries
People-watching Båstad
Business & Money
Sweden falls to third in global innovation index
Swedish ornithologists keep webcam watch
Blog updates

22 July

Det (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! “Det” is a personal pronoun that can be used in many ways, and it might me confusing if you always translate “det” to English “it”. In this article I will do my best to guide you to how to use “det”. Det replacing a word, a phrase or a clause Let us begin with the less confusing..." READ »


22 July


"Today (22 July) my Prime Minister, David Cameron, and UNICEF, are hosting the world’s first #GirlSummit in London. The Summit’s aim is to mobilise domestic and international efforts to end the appalling practices of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Child Early Forced Marriage (CEFM). This is a high priority for the UK government and the Prime..." READ »

Photo: Andreas Nordström/Image Bank Sweden
Top ten Swedish beach hot spots
Swedish Wiki vet sets new content record
Photo: Fastighetsbyrån
In Pictures: The Local's Property of the Week
Photo: Finest.se
People-watching July 15-16
Photo: Ola Ericson/Image Bank Sweden
What's On in Sweden
Photo: Lisa Mikulski
Hope springs eternal for expat pet shop owner
Princess Estelle steals limelight at mum's birthday
Swedes risk infants' lives by covering up prams
Swede runs for office just using Bitcoin funds
People-watching July 11-13
Malmö mayor slams Danish beggar ban
Swedish anti-abortion midwife sues county
Swede's salary chopped for Facebook use
Northern Sweden warmest in 90 years
'Victoria Day': Crown Princess Victoria turns 37
Mona Sahlin to fight extremism in Sweden
EU tells Sweden to cover up snus flavours
Swede snags assassin role in Tom Cruise film
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:
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
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: