• 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
US rapper Wyclef Jean: 'I want to move to Sweden'
US-Haitian rap artist Wyclef Jean. Photo: AP Photo/Keystone, Laurent Gillieron

US rapper Wyclef Jean: 'I want to move to Sweden'

A small Swedish town two hours north of Stockholm could get an unexpected celebrity resident. Rap star Wyclef Jean fell in love with Sandviken after a gig there two years ago and has now told a Swedish tabloid that he is planning a move to the town in the next couple of years. READ  

The Local List
Five reasons Sandviken could really suit Wyclef
Sandviken railway station. Photo: Tanzania/Wikipedia

Five reasons Sandviken could really suit Wyclef

Former Fugees star Wyclef Jean stirred up a right debate in Sweden on Thursday when he said he was planning a move to the small town of Sandviken, two hours north of the capital. But we're not ones to judge, so we've put together this list of five reasons why the rapper might be such a big fan of this rural town. READ  

The Local List
Five questions before buying a Sweden home
Here's what you need to know before buying a home in Sweden. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/SCANPIX

Five questions before buying a Sweden home

The Swedish financial watchdog recently scrapped plans for new mortgage rules, meaning you can still buy a home in Sweden and never pay off the full loan. Here's The Local's guide to the five main things you need to know before taking your first step on to the property ladder in the Nordic country. READ  

Swedish city apartment buyers in 'trouble' zone
Apartment blocks in Gothenburg: Photo: Simon Paulin/Image Bank Sweden

Swedish city apartment buyers in 'trouble' zone

One of Sweden's biggest banks has warned that too many potential buyers in Gothenburg and Stockholm are set to spend more than 30 percent of their disposable income on monthly mortgage payments and related costs, putting them in danger of potential financial problems in future. READ  

Interview
'I was ashamed of not being fully Swedish'

'I was ashamed of not being fully Swedish'

What’s it like growing up in Sweden when you don’t look like anybody else? Swedish-Eritrean singer and social activist Sa’ra Charismata tells The Local about immigration, peace, and why it’s okay to be scared of other cultures. READ  

Swedes want 'equal' World Cup (for women)
Some of Sweden's national team with coach Pia Sundhage. Photo: TT

Swedes want 'equal' World Cup (for women)

UPDATED: Swedish TV channel TV4 plans to describe the upcoming global women's football contest in Canada as the 'World Cup', as part of efforts to promote equality in the sport, but Fifa has said it will be in breach of contract unless it uses its full title the 'Fifa Women's World Cup'. READ  

Virus poisons thousands of Swedish computers
A computer virus has attacked thousands of Swedish computers. Photo: AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

Virus poisons thousands of Swedish computers

Thousands of Swedish computers have been hit by a destructive computer virus that gains access to all files and makes it possible for the invader to empty a user's bank account in seconds. READ  

What's on in Sweden
Five unmissable events in Sweden this week
Sweden's Eurovision hero will be performing in Stockholm. Photo: TT

Five unmissable events in Sweden this week

Eurovision hero Måns Zelmerlöw is performing at Stockholm's most iconic theme park this weekend, while one of Europe's hottest music and tech festivals is making its way to northern Sweden and Malmö is showcasting some of the most talented names on the Nordic theatre circuit. READ  

Sweden drops in leading global business rankings
Sweden is still one of the tenth most competitive nations in the world. Photo: Henrik Trygg/imagebank.sweden.se

Sweden drops in leading global business rankings

High taxes and unemployment have pushed Sweden down to ninth place from fifth a year earlier in an annual world competitiveness survey by a leading Swiss business school. READ  

Royal princess couple to quit Stockholm for UK
Chris O'Neill and Princess Madeleine of Sweden. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/SCANPIX

Royal princess couple to quit Stockholm for UK

Princess Madeleine of Sweden is set to leave her native country and move to London with her British-American banker husband Chris O'Neill, the Royal Court confirmed on Wednesday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Business & Money
Five questions to ask before buying your first home in Sweden
Sponsored Article
'No one tells expats about unemployment benefits'
Gallery
IN PICTURES: People-watching: May 17th
Bupa
Sponsored Article
Healthcare: Nine questions every expat should ask
Sport
Fake quotes in Zlatan Ibrahimovic's Swedish memoirs
Blog updates

26 May

Vet, kan, känner eller känner till? (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! It happens every now and then that my students mix up the words “vet”, “kan”, “känner”..." READ »

 

24 May

 (Joel Sherwood) »

"Real American men don’t watch Eurovision. New video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQk5dUhGt-w ..." READ »

 
 
 
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Your May sun snaps
Sponsored Article
Why expat women are choosing Swedish natural birth control
Education
Does Sweden mark down foreigners' children?
Sponsored Article
What it's like to be a student in Malmö
National
Russian veterans' Nazi attack on Ikea
Gallery
Property of the week: Lugnvik, Östersund
National
Avicii confirms royal wedding DJ gig
Sponsored Article
Kristin Amparo: 'Swedes are afraid to be proud'
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Eurovision winner Måns Zelmerlöw through the years
Gallery
People-watching: May 22nd-23rd
National
Why are Sweden's beaches among the worst in Europe?
National
VIDEO: Can you get your tongue around Sweden's word for 'nurse'?
National
How two million Swedes are designing a 'house of clicks'
National
What's on in Sweden this week
National
Five facts you need to know about Sweden's Eurovision entry
National
Why do one in three Swedes want to join Nato?
Features
What to do in Stockholm this summer
Gallery
People-watching: May 20th
National
How Sweden and Saudi Arabia got back on speaking term after row
Gallery
Property of the week: Västra hamnen, Malmö
Sponsored Article
'There is no such thing as Swedish values'
National
Why is support for the Sweden Democrats at a record high?
Sponsored Article
ConnectSweden: Examining Sweden's place in the world
Gallery
People-watching: May 15th - 17th
National
VIDEO: Swedish man's roar scares off charging bear
National
'Gang conflict' linked to latest Gothenburg attack
National
RECIPE: How to make Panna cotta with cloudberry jam
Sponsored Article
'Educated immigrants get stuck in limbo in Sweden'
National
Sweden backs migrant sharing plan
National
Swedish boozing on the rise
National
Why Sweden's deputy PM was forced to apologize for Auschwitz analogy
National
End of the road for Julian Assange's arrest appeal?
Features
Booked to go to one of Sweden's sizzling music festivals yet?
National
Meet the Swedish boy who used to be a girl
Sponsored Article
How to change the world: Malmö to Mogadishu
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Princess Estelle through the years
National
Why is obesity ballooning in Sweden?
National
VIDEO: The bizarre Swedish nurses song that's gone viral
National
Ecuador stray dog Arthur in Swedish charity race
National
UK expert: 'Sweden's current military state is alarming'
National
Elfdalian: a real language spoken in central Sweden in 2015
National
Is King's love for house tracks behind new military music?
Gallery
Property of the week: Hjortnäs, Leksand
National
Sex-crazed grouse terrorizes Swedes
National
IN PICTURES: Sweden's King Carl XVI turns 69
National
Dolphins spotted in Baltic
Gallery
People-watching: May 1st-3rd
Sponsored Article
'Never waste a good crisis'
Swedish Hasbeens
Sponsored Article
Is the world wrong to connect Sweden with sex?
Sponsored Article
'Impossible' to run Skanska without Bromma Airport
Sponsored Article
Want to study in Sweden? Read why Stockholm is the best choice
Sponsored Article
'Sweden must embrace openness and diversity'
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

3,260
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