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Malmö mayor of two decades to step down

Malmö mayor of two decades to step down

Published: 04 Feb 2013 09:33 GMT+01:00
Updated: 04 Feb 2013 09:33 GMT+01:00

The Social Democrat mayor of Malmö, Ilmar Reepalu, has announced he is leaving the job on July 1st, saying he wants to spend more time with his grandchild.

Reepalu became mayor (kommunstyrelsens ordförande) of Sweden's third largest city, situated in the south across the Öresund sound from Copenhagen, in 1994.

He announced his planned resignation in the debate pages of the regional newspaper Sydsvenskan on Monday.

In his letter to the paper, Reepalu brought up the anti-Semitism accusations levelled against him in recent years, which brought on a visit from US President Barack Obama's special anti-Semitism representative Hannah Rosenthal.

"Badly chosen phrases on my part were misinterpreted and twisted into deeply insulting statements about my beliefs," he wrote on Monday. His chief of staff at the time said that Rosenthal had planned to visit the city before the statements were made.

Reepalu also took the opportunity to look back at the entire tenure as head of Malmö municipality and the woes facing the city.

"The death of industry and the flight of business meant the municipality had reached a gigantic 22-percent unemployment rate," he wrote about the early 1990s when the labour party took power in Malmö.

Listing the challenges he faced, Reepalu also wrote that the previous administration at city hall had left him with the biggest budget deficit in the history of Swedish municipal politics - 1.3 billion kronor ($200 million).

He decided to focus on Chalmers professor Åke E. Andersson's vision of a K-Society - knowledge, creative resources, communications, cultural capital (kunskaper, kreativa resurser, kommunikationssystem, kulturellt kapital).

"Instead of Malmö desperately trying to attract big mature industry for the workers city, a rather pointless hunt tinged with the values of the past, I wanted us to focus on welfare-creating K:s."

He criticized then prime minister and party colleague Göran Persson for not helping to upgrade Malmö's college to a university, but said the reform was near. Persson's government also, he wrote, stalled far too long in helping Malmö with major public transport investments.

Reepalu said the city now needed a new leader ahead of the 2014 elections. He would not, he said, quit politics all together but aim to replace his 80-hour week with a normal working schedule and spend more time with his grandchild.

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Your comments about this article

10:28 February 4, 2013 by RobinHood
The mayor turned his city into a globally recognised icon of anti-semitism; boycotted by Jewish tourists and boy scouts. The sort of place tourists to Sweden might pass right through for fear of being blown up by a bomb, attacked by a robber, shot by a gangster, or mistaken for a Jew and spat on by a Malmö citizen. The sort of place President Obama has to send his special anti-semitism representative to explain to the mayor how to behave.

Let's hope his long-overdue resignation will help detoxify this sad city's rotten reputation.
13:29 February 4, 2013 by Chloe Monroe
^^^wot he said^^^
14:47 February 4, 2013 by Orcade
I agree with RobinHood as well. Reepalu's resignation was long overdue and I hope whoever replaces him will give whatever jewish citizens still live in Malmö proper protection. Say what you want about the conflict in the middle east, but swedish jews who can trace their heritage in this country back to the 1600's and has done alot of good for this country should not have to apologize for belonging to a certain group of people and should certainly not have to withstand physical and psycological abuse.
18:15 February 4, 2013 by guliver
Orcade

Well said.
19:09 February 4, 2013 by Orcade
Sadly I think that Malmö's reputation as being a city of anti-semitism is very hard to "wash off" but maybe the media exposure thanks to eurovision song contest can show another side of the city. Guliver, I saw you posting on other news regarding judaism in sweden. Do you live in Sweden now or do you live in any other country?
19:19 February 4, 2013 by johan rebel
That's about two decades too late. I was about to suggest that he retire to Gaza, but realized that he might as well stay in Malmö. Same difference!
20:01 February 4, 2013 by guliver
Orcade

Well ,

I live in Israel ,but I follow for a very long time through the" Local " the news about the life of the small Jewish community in Malmo,my Dentist here was born in Malmo and immigrated to Israel many years ago and he told me that as a child they did not suffer and were not bothered as it happen in the last couple years.

My fother was born in Memel, East Preussia but managed to escape to Israel during the war ,my mother was born in Poland she arrived here with the ship Exsodus. in 1947.
21:41 February 4, 2013 by Orcade
Well, I hope things will get better for jews in Malmö and in Sweden in general. If you ever move to Sweden, I suggest you move to Stockholm or Göteborg. Maybe in the future Malmö will be safe for jews again, lets hope for it anyway. By the way, do you know if Israel will compete in ESC or will they boycott it since it is in Malmö?
07:03 February 5, 2013 by prince T
Malmö is not safe for anybody
18:15 February 5, 2013 by guliver
Orcade

As Physician I travel some times to Europe ,I have never been to Sweden by now and I guess that as a tourist I will enjoy my self,as my parents immigrated here and I was born here and all my family is here I do not think to move back to Europe,I love very much my country and hope for better future...

I guess that Israel will take part in the ESC ,cultural events in Europe are still important and I hope that people over there will know to put line between political issues and cultural ones.
12:28 February 6, 2013 by Cornelius Hamelberg
It's really sad to see him go. We will be missing him terribly.
17:00 February 8, 2013 by Britt-Marie7
Good riddance! Maybe a new mayor can make Malmo the city it used to be where everyone gets along, and not one group of people think that it is OK to take over the city and make their own laws.

Hopefully, the Jewish People will once again feel safe to live here. They have given us so much, we should honor them for all the hard work, and willingness to integrate into our society.
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