• Sweden edition
 
Problem of profiting ex-politicos not simply money, money, money

Problem of profiting ex-politicos not simply money, money, money

Published: 18 May 2012 12:43 GMT+02:00
Updated: 18 May 2012 12:43 GMT+02:00

For a long time Sweden’s Social Democrats have had a problem with politicians making money.

In 1976 when they for the first time since the 1930s were voted out of office, a series of scandals exposing double standards within the Social Democratic movement took place during the election campaign.

For example, when finance minister Gunnar Sträng had bought a house in Gamla Stan in Stockholm and rented it out to tenants, he planned his finances to avoid unnecessary tax.

Due to his “tax planning” he did not have to pay the taxes he as finance minister had levied on others.

The accusation of saying one thing and then doing another continued to haunt the Social Democrats. In the 1980s, minister of justice Ove Rainer had to resign after it was exposed that he also had carried out “tax planning”.

And when Olof Palme’s son studied at Harvard, he did not pay any fees in exchange for a lecture by his father. Palme did not declare this in his tax income tax return, as he should have done.

It developed into the “Harvard Affair” and Palme’s critics said that there must be something seriously wrong with the system of declaring one's income, when not even the prime minister could do it properly.

Both the Swedish left and the right also share a strong dislike for politicians who switch from politics to the business world. The left sees them as traitors, while the right thinks they are hypocrites.

One modern example is Thomas Östros.

He studied more economics at university than finance minister Anders Borg and was considered to be among the brightest Social Democrats in parliament. He is now the new CEO of the Association of Swedish Bankers (Svenska Bankföreningen).

Previously he advocated a ban on banker's bonuses but now they are “not a problem”.

His new salary is three times as large as what he earned as a member of parliament. A radio program that satirizes the news did a fictive interview with him, where he said that he also had other job offers and that one was from the Italian mafia in Naples.

He considered accepting it if the salary was right.

Another recent example is Pär Nuder.

He was minister for finance in Göran Persson's last government and a possible candidate for the party leadership before Mona Sahlin, whom he referred to as his “political big sister”, defeated him.

Later she replaced him as economic spokesperson with Östros and in 2009 Nuder left politics for a business career. Today he is an advisor to the Wallenberg family, a member of several company boards, and in 2011 his own company made multi-million kronor profits.

The problem, however, was that he received his ministerial pension at the same time. Although he did nothing wrong in accepting the pension, his accepting of the money – which recently made headlines – has now become a moral question.

The current party leader Stefan Löfven even broke his successful vow of silence and condemned Nuder's decision not to forego the pension amid steady profits from his own business.

Göran Greider, editor of the social democrat-leaning Dala-Demokraten newspaper and the self-appointed conscience of the social democratic left wrote an article where he claimed that private companies are looking for "right-wing social democrats" to act as their public alibi.

As in most cases Göran Greider is wrong.

What the private sector is looking for are ex-politicians with government experience. That is how the former Moderate Party leader Carl Bildt earned his living before he returned to politics to be Fredrik Reinfeldt's minister for foreign affairs.

However, Greider is right about that it is a question of hypocrisy.

In politics as in life, if you say one thing and do another, eventually people will stop taking your views seriously.

In politics this is a problem mostly affecting representatives of the left because they tend to want to reverse what they see as privilege. Until they themselves become a part of it.

In the UK you have cases of several Old Labour politicians who advocated the abolition of the House of Lords. But when they became lords themselves, they suddenly thought abolition could wait.

On many occasions Göran Persson criticized what he derogatorily referred to as "those consultants". During the 2002 election campaign he attacked the leader of the Swedish Conservative Party, Bo Lundgren, with the following question: "how can you who recently bought a house for six million kronor ($830,000) understand the situation for ordinary people?”

Four years later, Persson bought a country estate for twice as much and today he is working as a consultant. However, hypocrisy is not something present only within the left. Anders Björck who was defense minister under the 1991-1994 Moderate-led government often criticized the habit of appointing politicians for high profile government jobs such as ambassadorships.

His critique stopped when he became County Governor (Landshövding) of Uppsala.

Since leaving office Pär Nuder has realized that his network is worth a lot of money.

Although he has never publicly expressed admiration for the song "Money, Money, Money" by Abba, as Carl Bildt has done, there is another 1970s pop group that could be used to explain his motivation.

In his memoirs he says that his family and Mona Sahlin’s often celebrate Midsummer together and during the late hours, he and Sahlin sometimes go "disco-dancing" to the group Boney M.

She has not gone to the private sector as he has done.

Instead, she is the Swedish candidate to lead the International Labor Organization (ILO). Compared to Nuder, Sahlin will earn very little and she will not be allowed to join any company boards.

There is a line from Boney M’s song "Daddy Cool" that Pär Nuder might think of when he compares his financial gains to Mona Sahlin's possible future career:

"She must be crazy like a fool..."

David Lindén is a PhD student in history at King’s College London and will serve as the acting political editor for Länstidningen in Södertälje for the summer 2012. Follow him on Twitter at @davidlinden1.

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

13:36 May 18, 2012 by davidlinden1
Well, for the record, I will only be the editor this summer. It has an excellent editor and I will try to be as good as him when he is on vacation:-)

/The author
20:51 May 21, 2012 by dizzymoe33
I don't understand what this article has to do with ABBA?
Today's headlines
Swedish nurse reported for patient 'death wave'

Swedish nurse reported for patient 'death wave'

A nurse in southern Sweden has been reported for abuse at a senior care centre after she allegedly waved to a colleague with the hand of a recently-dead resident. READ  

Pandas Plopp and Polly born in Swedish zoo
Plopp and Polly, the offspring of Pandora the panda. Photo: Kolmården

Pandas Plopp and Polly born in Swedish zoo

A pair of red panda cubs have been born in central Sweden, a wildlife park announced on Monday. READ  

Green Party ranked 'most gay friendly' in Sweden

Green Party ranked 'most gay friendly' in Sweden

The Green Party's views are 88.6 percent "LGBT-friendly", a Swedish LGBT rights group determined on Monday, making the Greens the most gay-friendly of all Sweden's parliamentary parties. READ  

Man held on suspicion of murdering wife
Police on the scene. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Man held on suspicion of murdering wife

Updated: Police arrested a man in Copenhagen on the suspicion of killing his wife, whose body was found at the couple's home in southern Sweden during the weekend. READ  

Arlanda, Stockholm
Lightning bolt grounds flight to New York

Lightning bolt grounds flight to New York

Swedes bound for New York learned on Monday morning that their plane had been cancelled after it was hit by lightning during Sunday's thunderstorm. READ  

Elderly Swedish man stripped of his 35 cats

Elderly Swedish man stripped of his 35 cats

The County Administrative Board of Skåne has decided to confiscate the 35 cats of an 81-year-old man who was forbidden from having more than nine of the furry felines. READ  

Wild weather set to strike Sweden anew
Photo: TT

Wild weather set to strike Sweden anew

With Sunday's thunderstorm reported as the worst of the year so far, Sweden is bracing for round two on Monday as meteorologists predict more of the same. READ  

Swedish youth suicides hit 25-year high

Swedish youth suicides hit 25-year high

Last year 1,600 people in Sweden took their own lives - and for Swedes aged 15 to 24, the numbers haven't been so high since 1989. READ  

Floods replace Swedish heatwave
The Viking Lines ferry pictured was ripped away from the dock as a result of the storm. Per Gustavsson / TT

Floods replace Swedish heatwave

The Swedish summer was washed away on Sunday as thunderstorms caused chaos in Stockholm, including torrents of water flooding down stairways at metro stations. READ  

Gaza crisis delaying case of murdered child
Protesters gather in Malmö for a pro-Gaza demonstration on July 26th 2014. Stig-Åke Jönsson / TT

Gaza crisis delaying case of murdered child

The ongoing conflict in the middle east is delaying the investigation into the death of an 8-year-old girl who was found dead in Sweden in May. Meanwhile, over a 1,000 people attended a pro-Gaza march in Malmö. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
People-watching, June 26th - 28th. Get inside Stockholm's hottest nightclubs
Gallery
Top ten Swedish taboos
Society
Seven-year-old Swede cycles to Berlin
Politics
'Gaza conflict needs help, not empty rhetoric'
Society
Swedes voted 'most beautiful' in the Nordics
Blog updates

27 July

Approaching Stockholm (Around Sweden in a kayak) »

"I woke up in the comfort of my own little cabin on Eva and Rolf’s boat, it was 7:30am and I was feeling a bit groggy after a couple of beers with all the lovely locals the night before. The previous day had really taken its toll on my body and I was very stiff and..." READ »

 

24 July

Sharing our Pride: Celebrating Love & the LGBT Community! (Stockholm in my American Heart) »

"It’s mid- July in Stockholm, and with much of the city on vacation, things can seem a little quiet – the streets, the bus, and the grocery store. One thing that has not paused for a summer break, though, is preparation for Stockholm’s Pride Festival, which will take place from July 28 to August 2...." READ »

 
 
 
Business & Money
Sweden demands EU clarity on Bitcoin tax
National
Swedish organic sales enjoy 'amazing' growth
Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
Society
What's On in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching July 23
National
Swedish cops elect not to shoot 'angry elks'
Business & Money
New alcohol retail rules threaten micro-breweries
Gallery
People-watching Båstad
Business & Money
Sweden falls to third in global innovation index
Society
Swedish ornithologists keep webcam watch
Photo: Andreas Nordström/Image Bank Sweden
Gallery
Top ten Swedish beach hot spots
Tech
Swedish Wiki vet sets new content record
Photo: Fastighetsbyrån
Lifestyle
In Pictures: The Local's Property of the Week
Photo: Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching July 15-16
Photo: Ola Ericson/Image Bank Sweden
Society
What's On in Sweden
Photo: Lisa Mikulski
National
Hope springs eternal for expat pet shop owner
Gallery
Princess Estelle steals limelight at mum's birthday
National
Swedes risk infants' lives by covering up prams
National
Swede runs for office just using Bitcoin funds
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

738
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:
www.swedishdowntown.com
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.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN
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:
http://psdmedia.se