The Social Democrats’ party secretary, Marita Ulvskog, has apologised, but the opposition leaders have said that they believe the campaign was organised – and that they fear a dirty election fight.
“I don’t want to believe that these sorts of methods have gained a foothold in Swedish politics,” said Fredrik Reinfeldt to TT.
From a sender called “The Week’s Gossip”, a series of emails accused Reinfeldt of tax fraud, false financial declarations and of getting his political position only with his father’s influence.
The campaign has been going on for several weeks and began with messages to Reinfledt asking for a comment on the allegations. Then the emails began streaming in to political journalists and newspapers’ letters pages.
The objective was clearly to discredit the Moderates’ leader and to identify the sender, the party turned to the Swedish parliament’s security department.
“We examined Reinfeldt’s computer and went into a web site where you can search for IP addresses,” said the head of security, Göran Forsell.
“There we saw that it was an address linked to the Social Democrats’ headquarters on Sveavägen.”
On Thursday the Social Democrats tried to trace who at the party HQ was behind the campaign.
Marita Ulvskog said that her party has had help from the Moderates.
“With their help we have been able to ascertain that it was unfortunately a colleague at the Social Democrats’ party office who has sent this email.”
According to Ulvskog, only one person was involved. She was unwilling to reveal whether it was a senior worker or what the consequences would be.
Ulvskog apologised and said that the incident was completely unacceptable and “contrary to the party’s political culture and ethical rules”.
Reinfeldt viewed the campaign as more sinister. He said it was a “definitive” sign that the election would be dirty and that the Social Democrats would try to attack him personally.
And he was not buying the suggestion that the emails were produced by a loose canon in the Social Democrats.
“I can only state that this has been an organised campaign and that it has been ongoing for a long time,” said Reinfeldt.
The other conservative party leaders expressed their suspicions.
The Christian Democrats’ Göran Hägglund said he found it hard to believe that one individual alone was behind the emails.
“There exists a culture within the Social Democrats where anything goes in order to cling on to power,” he said.
The leader of the Centre Party, Maud Olofsson, agreed that the campaign was probably coordinated from on high:
“There is no party worker who would dare to do this unless the leadership sanctioned it,” she said.