Prime Minister Göran Persson leads a cabinet of twenty-four ministers. Yet only six of these are members of parliament. Of the rest, a number are former senior civil servants or ‘experts’. Many of them, such as Justice Minister Thomas Bodström, were not even politically involved before joining the government.
Now, senior Social Democrats have had enough. Presidents of the Social Democratic Party’s local branches have told Svenska Dagbladet that they want more cabinet ministers with their own political base or a seat in the Riksdag, Sweden’s parliament.
Unsurprisingly perhaps, the mood among senior members of parliament is even more disapproving. Veteran MP Arne Kjörnsberg argued that a minister appointed from the Riksdag has the support of voters.
“An MP is not sitting there because he’s got a pretty face,” he said. “He’s there to represent twenty-five thousand voters.”
On the right wing of Swedish politics, they don’t have the luxury of handing out the top jobs. Yet Fredrik Reinfeldt, leader of the Moderate Party, was trying to show this week that there would be a viable coalition to defeat the lefties at the next election. He announced that the opposition parties would be setting up working groups to develop policies that they would put forward in a common manifesto at the next election.
“The greatest risk for the centre-right is that we win an election without being ready to rule,” DN quoted him as saying.
Not that all is sweetness and light on the right. The Liberals, the Centre Party, the Moderates and the Christian Democrats are so divided on some major issues – including alcohol policy and the environment – that the working groups won’t even discuss these subjects.
And at the grass roots divisions are even more apparent.
“We’ll never be able to have the Christian Democrats with us,” one Moderate party member told DN. “They’re complete bloody lefties.”