• Sweden's news in English
 
SWEDISH-SAUDI ARMS DEAL
Scandal made Tolgfors's position 'untenable'

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
Romanian beggar lands bumper lottery win
Photo: TT

Romanian beggar lands bumper lottery win

A Romanian man who slept under a bridge in a Swedish city and lived by begging recently landed a 210,000 kronor ($27,000) lottery win after buying a ticket on impulse, saying he now wants to build himself a house. READ  

Agency: Dream in vain of a white Christmas
There is little chance of snow in Stockholm this Christmas. File photo: TT

Agency: Dream in vain of a white Christmas

Sweden's weather agency SMHI has warned those living in southern parts of the country to stop dreaming of a white Christmas or risk disappointment. READ  

Shots fired at Stockholm migrant camp: report
File photo: TT

Shots fired at Stockholm migrant camp: report

Stockholm police have launched an investigation after reports that shots were fired at an EU migrant camp in the south of the city on Saturday. READ  

Löfven launches Swedish 'American Dream'
Photo: TT

Löfven launches Swedish 'American Dream'

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven used his Christmas speech on Saturday to launch his idea of the "Swedish Promise", an equivalent to the more familiar "American Dream". READ  

Hoho: Estelle records cute Christmas message
Princess Estelle pictured in her 2014 Christmas jumper. Photo: Kate Gabor/royalcourt.se

Hoho: Estelle records cute Christmas message

Video: Sweden's little Princess Estelle has got into the spirit of Christmas by recording a special message together with her parents. READ  

Swedes over-estimate English abilities: expert
BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg suffers a linguistic let-down at The White House in 2010. File photo: TT

Swedes over-estimate English abilities: expert

Swedes are generally confident in their own English abilities, a new survey has shown, although one expert has questioned whether this belief is misplaced. READ  

Sweden seeks ban on foreign booze advertising
File photo: Shutterstock.

Sweden seeks ban on foreign booze advertising

Two powerful Swedish lobby groups have turned to the European Commission to try and get a complete ban on alcohol advertising on television, after it emerged some channels were dodging the ban by being registered abroad. READ  

Minecraft creator beats Beyonce in mansion bid
Markus Persson created hit game Minecraft. Photo: TT

Minecraft creator beats Beyonce in mansion bid

UPDATED: Swedish billionaire Markus Persson is reported to have outbid the likes of Jay-Z and Beyonce with his half billion kronor offer ($70 million) for a 2,000-square-metre Beverly Hills mansion. READ  

Accelerated for Ice Music
Ice Music taps Texas troubadour for new tunes
A scene from a 2014 Ice Music concert in Luleå. Photo: Graeme Richardson/Swedish Lapland

Ice Music taps Texas troubadour for new tunes

The world's "coolest concert" is set for a Texas twist in 2015 when Luleå's innovative Ice Music welcomes American musical talent from Austin, home of the South By Southwest (SXSW) music festival. READ  

Second baby on the way for Princess Madeleine
Princess Madeleine at the previous Nobel banquet. Photo: TT

Second baby on the way for Princess Madeleine

UPDATED: Sweden's Royal Court has announced that Princess Madeleine is pregnant with the second child of her financier husband Chris O'Neill. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Lifestyle
What's On in Sweden: December 18th to 25th
National
'Unprecedented' Russian activity: Armed Forces
Society
Interview: The Local chats with Melinda Gates
Society
VIDEO: Stockholmers try out some Swedish tongue twisters
Society
Eight things to do when it gets dark in Umeå
Blog updates

19 December

-t or no -t? (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! There are many things in the Swedish language that can give you a grey hair or two,..." READ »

 

19 December

Editor’s Blog, December 19th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hello readers, Father Time has taken another week from us, but never fear – good old Father..." READ »

 
 
 
National
Inside Sweden's first 'light therapy' school
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching: December 17th
Estelle through the years
Gallery
Princess Estelle through the years
Society
Why are there so many 100-year-olds in one Swedish town?
Society
Is it time to better celebrate Sweden's diverse identity?
Gallery
Property of the week: Huddinge
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
National
CATCH UP: Russian plane in Baltic near-miss drama
Lifestyle
How my compass drew me to Sweden
National
The man whose memory you need to remember
Gallery
People-watching: December 13th - 14th
Sponsored Article
How to get your own office anywhere in the world
Politics
'Our party will stand alone': Stefan Löfven
Society
The Local chats to Ruben Östlund, director of Golden Globe nominated Force Majeure
Lifestyle
Ten things to know before a Swedish party
Lifestyle
What's On in Sweden: December 12th to 19th
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The 2014 Nobel Banquet
National
The Local's guide to the Nobel Prizes 2014
Education
Introducing... Education in Stockholm
Society
The Swedish Christmas market with a twist
Lifestyle
Why do so many Swedes have tattoos?
Society
Get 20% off Swedish Christmas decorations
National
Dewani family: We only heard half the story
Business & Money
Business in Stockholm: 'efficiency is money'
Gallery
Property of the week: Östermalm
National
Meet the Swedes hosting festive feasts for 'lonely' guests
Gallery
TIMELINE: Swedish honeymoon killing murder trial
Gallery
People-watching: December 7th
Gallery
IN PICTURES: What's it like to fly planes in Sweden?
National
Submarine hunters 'robbed' of reward cash
National
The Local's Countdown to Christmas
National
'Dangerous' USB charger recalled in Sweden
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's King and Queen wrap up France tour
National
Analysis: Should Snowden get asylum in Sweden?
National
Swedish schoolboy in female saint role row
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's political crisis unfolds
Gallery
People-watching: December 3rd
National
What happened to Sweden's ice bucket cash?
Lifestyle
Top Swedish songs of the month
Sponsored Article
SIS: the thinking behind globalised learning
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Family life 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

820
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
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists.
Details and how to apply
Counselling and Psychotherapy in English
Sometimes living in another culture can cause stress, confusion and feelings of sadness and loneliness. Talking to a professional psychotherapist/counsellor might help you. I am a UKCP Reg. psychotherapist. My practice is in Södermalm, Stockholm.
Contact me to discuss your options