• Sweden's news in English
 

Scandal made Tolgfors's position 'untenable'

Published: 30 Mar 2012 16:37 GMT+02:00

"No matter how you look at it, this is bad news for the government. You can't really put a good spin on it," Nicholas Aylott, a political scientist at Södertörn University in Stockholm, tells The Local.

"It adds to the sense that the government is facing a mounting set of problems and doesn't have the wherewithal to get a grip on the political agenda."

Tolgfors's resignation was announced during a Thursday press conference during which prime minister Fredrik Reinfledt praised Tolgfors for his efforts in overseeing the transformation of the Swedish military in light of stinging budget cuts which prompted the defence minister's predecessor to quit in protest in 2007.

However, both Reinfeldt and Tolgfors also acknowledged that the still unfolding scandal surrounding a secret plan hatched by officials at Sweden's Defence Research Agency (Totalförsvarets forskningsinstitut, FOI) to help build a weapons plant in Saudi Arabia also played a role in Tolgfors's decision.

According to Tolgfors, the media attention surrounding the scandal, first revealed by Sveriges Radio (SR) in early March "hastened and facilitated" a move he said he'd been considering since the autumn of 2011.

Following the announcement, there was much speculation in the Swedish media regarding whether Tolgfors had really acted on his own accord or had been forced out by Reinfeldt.

"It's difficult to say whether he was sacrificed or decided he just couldn't put up with it anymore since we know so little about the details of the affair," says Aylott.

"Regardless, it's difficult to see how he could survive in the role considering the continued revelations in the press. His position was becoming more and more untenable."

While Tolgfors's departure may provide Reinfeldt with some breathing room politically, Aylott expects the prime minister to have a rough road ahead as he attempts to placate rising frustration among the smaller parties in the governing centre-right Alliance government and get his political agenda back on track.

"[The scandal] illuminates a number of other deep-seeded problems facing the Alliance and adds to a continued loss of momentum," says Aylott

"The fact is, it's a minority government and they find themselves in a tricky situation. They have little in the way of a plan for how to deal with it other than to hang on until the next election and hope for a majority, something that looks increasingly unlikely considering recent events."

Aylott adds that aspects of the secret deal with Saudi Arabia are "eyebrow-raising, to say the least", such as revelations that FOI allegedly borrowed massive amounts of cash from military intelligence agency MUST in order to finance a shell company to manage the dubious venture.

In other ways, however, the behaviour of officials at FOI in apparently looking to skirt the rules in order to pursue a partnership with the Saudis is simply indicative of an agency under pressure and a "sign of weakness" for the Swedish defence industry.

"The Swedish defence industry has been under stress because of drastic reductions in demand for equipment and services from the Swedish military and has had to look for external solutions," he said

"That kind of pressure can bring about 'entrepreneurial' behaviour, not to mention a collective loss of judgment."

Despite the additional hardships facing Reinfeldt as he awaits more potentially damning details which could be revealed by numerous probes now underway into FOI's actions surrounding the Saudi deal, Aylott believes the prime minister can be thankful that the political opposition hasn't been more ruthless in blaming the government for the scandal.

"One reason this hasn't been as explosive politically is that all the parties have had involvement with it at some level," he explains, pointing out that the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) under which the project was pursued was actually signed in 2005 under the then Social Democrat-led government.

In addition, new Social Democrat head Stefan Löfven is also sympathetic to the importance of keeping the Swedish defence industry afloat, both in terms of jobs and exports.

"Löfven may therefore be more hesitant to openly criticize the government over the matter and the opposition has perhaps felt constrained from going for the government's throat more directly," says Aylott.

"At least that's one interpretation as to why they've given the government a relatively easy ride on this so far."

David Landes

twitter.com/davelandes

Your comments about this article

09:54 April 1, 2012 by SimonDMontfort
Isn't that Julian Assange in the photo...?
20:26 April 5, 2012 by GLO
Help me understand why this should be a Big Deal... I would believe this is good for Sweden mfging????? Good Job getting the deal. Perhaps, Sweden can use the mfg base to make Dala Horses. Good for future jobs!!!! Sweden can keep getting high education goals, no jobs for sitting at caffe shops on internet......Sweden the Welfare State!!!!
10:50 April 6, 2012 by AHA
Why put all the blame on the Alliance. It´s the Soc. Dem. government that signed the contract. Not even tha leftists did anything about it then and don´t tell me no body knew.
Today's headlines
Spring budget
Petrol to cost more as Greens get their way
Social Democrat Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson and her Green Party deputy Per Bolund at a press conference on Friday. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT.

Petrol to cost more as Greens get their way

Sweden's left-wing government proposed a hike in petrol taxes on Friday, citing the drop in oil prices and pressure put on it by its coalition partner the Greens. READ  

Swedish Nobel laureate Tranströmer dies aged  83
Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/SCANPIX

Swedish Nobel laureate Tranströmer dies aged 83

UPDATED: Swedish poet and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature Tomas Tranströmer has passed away at the age of 83, his publishers confirmed on Friday. READ  

Sweden Democrat head: 'I'm on antidepressants'
Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson before his sick leave. Photo: Sören Andersson/TT

Sweden Democrat head: 'I'm on antidepressants'

Jimmie Åkesson, who is poised to return as leader of Sweden's nationalist party in April after months of sick leave, has revealed he is taking antidepressants for exhaustion and sleeping difficulties in an interview set to air late on Friday. READ  

Is Swedish super coach Pia Sundhage quitting?
Pia Sundhage, left, celebrating after Sweden beats Scotland in the World Cup qualifier. Photo: Adam Ihse/TT

Is Swedish super coach Pia Sundhage quitting?

Swedish football coach Pia Sundhage's contract leading the women's national team runs out next year. And she has not yet made up her mind as to whether or not she wants to stay on. “If they asked me today, I would say no,” she told The Local on Friday. READ  

Stieg Larsson's partner blasts trilogy sequel
Eva Gabrielsson, Stieg Larsson's former partner. Photo: TT

Stieg Larsson's partner blasts trilogy sequel

The partner of Sweden's best-known contempory author Stieg Larsson has criticised the decision to publish a fourth installment of his Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, written by another author. READ  

Ikea flat-pack shelters set to house refugees
Ikea flat-pack shelters will be delivered to refugee camps. Photo: AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

Ikea flat-pack shelters set to house refugees

Flat-pack shelters produced by Swedish furniture giant Ikea are set to provide temporary homes to thousands of refugees in camps around the world. READ  

Swedish PM faces rights pressure in China
Sweden's PM Stefan Löfven talks to reporters outside the Swedish Embassy in Beijing. Photo: Karin Olander/TT

Swedish PM faces rights pressure in China

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven landed in China on Friday for a two-day visit. But on the home front he has been facing pressure to push more to get human rights on the agenda when he meets with Chinese leaders. READ  

The Local Recipes
How to Make Chocolate Truffles for Easter
Chocolate Truffles. Photo: John Duxbury

How to Make Chocolate Truffles for Easter

If you are looking for a fun alternative to Easter eggs, why not try Swedish chocolate truffles. They are delicious, easy to make and kids can help you make these delightful sweets. Food writer John Duxbury shares his recipe with The Local. READ  

Homeless to 'skip' long rental queues in capital
There is a long queue for housing in Stockholm. Photo: Image Bank Sweden

Homeless to 'skip' long rental queues in capital

Some of Stockholm's homeless population are set to be offered permanent accommodation in the city centre, as part of efforts to help them reintegrate into society. But the move is a highly controversial one in the capital where there is a long queue for first hand rental contracts among tax-paying residents. READ  

Nine more jailed for Stockholm Nazi attack
Police in Kärrtorp in December 2013. Photo: TT

Nine more jailed for Stockholm Nazi attack

Prison sentences of between three and eight months have been handed down to nine men involved in a neo-Nazi demonstration in Stockholm in 2013. Swedish courts have already punished fourteen others for their role in the brutal violence. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Society
How to never miss your favourite weekly features on The Local
Gallery
People-watching: March 25th
Sponsored Article
Why Stockholm is the 'Boston of Europe'
National
Which words are changing in Sweden's latest dictionary?
Sponsored Article
'Sweden must embrace openness and diversity'
Blog updates

27 March

Celebrating Three Great English Exports In 2015 (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"Deputy Head of Mission Aidan Liddle joins us for another guest blog today. In 2015, England..." READ »

 

27 March

Editor’s blog, March 27th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hi readers, Europe remains in shock following the Germanwings plane crash in the Alps that killed 150..." READ »

 
 
 
National
Is this house 'un-Swedish'?
National
Sweden pays tribute to victims of Germanwings Alps crash
National
Neo-Nazi activity rising in Sweden
National
How to make Swedish Waffles
Gallery
Property of the week: Torslanda - Hjuvik
National
Stray dog Arthur moves in with Swedish owners
Sponsored Article
Ten tips for succeeding as a start-up in Sweden
National
Sweden triples maximum limit at asylum centres
Gallery
People-watching: March 21st
National
Why elderly Swedes are among the world's happiest people
National
TIMELINE: Gothenburg shootings
National
Can Sweden's feminist party score success in neighbouring Norway?
National
Why Brits can't get enough of Sweden
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's solar eclipse
National
What's on in Sweden this week
Royal wedding countdown begins
National
Viking ring reveals Islamic ties
National
TIMELINE: Julian Assange sex allegations in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: March 18th
National
One in three Russian diplomats are spies, says Sweden's Security Service
National
Hitchcock opera set to hit Gothenburg stage
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Northern Lights on show across Sweden
Technology
Why Swedish pop star Robyn is pushing for more girls in tech
Gallery
Property of the week: Umeå
National
Introducing Sweden's Eurovision 2015 entry Måns Zelmerlöw
Gallery
People-watching: March 13th - 15th
National
Why have Swedish prosecutors made a U-turn in Julian Assange case?
Sponsored Article
How Sweden and India can work together
Politics
Who's the new young leader of the Christian Democrats?
Travel
Why are Swedes so obsessed with Mallorca?
Gallery
Princess Estelle celebrates her mother's name day in Stockholm
National
What's on in Sweden this week
National
Obama's anti-Semitism team heads to Stockholm and Malmö
Gallery
People-watching: March 11th
Technology
How a Swedish app is teaching children to empathize
Swedish grandparents put on disguises to snatch baby
National
Why Sweden may not be as gender equal as you think
Politics
Why does Russia blame Sweden for the crisis in Ukraine?
Gallery
Property of the week: Smögen
National
Listen to the English remix of a Swedish 'genitals' song gone viral
Technology
'Swedish women are strong and ambitious'
National
Why are 11 Roma people suing the Swedish state?
Sponsored Article
Expert US tax preparation for Americans in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Stockholm job fair helps immigrant entrepreneurs
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

3,482
jobs available
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:
psdmedia.se