Liberal leader demands ethical regulations

The leader of the Liberal Party, Lars Leijonborg, says ethical regulations are needed within Swedish politics to prevent corruption among those in power.

Writing on Dagens Nyheter’s opinion page, Leijonborg called for the other parties in the conservative alliance to back his proposal.

Leijonborg has drawn up eight rules, based on and named after recent scandals linked to the Social Democrats.

Top of the list is ‘Lex Anna Sjödin’, named after the leader of the Social Democrats’ youth wing who is currently awaiting trial for assault after a brawl in a Stockholm bar.

“When Anna Sjödin, according to the prosecutor’s witnesses asked the doormen ‘don’t you know I am?’ she revealed the fundamental problem. When her party friends threatened to get justice minister Thomas Bodström to shut the bar down, it became even clearer,” wrote Leijonborg in DN.

Lars Leijonborg’s proposal is that politicians should step back from their roles while they are being prosecuted or investigated for crimes.

Rule number 2, ‘Lex Anitra Steen’, calls for an end to the process by which the government chooses the heads of state organisations. In the case of the state alcohol monopoly, Systembolaget, the managing director is Anitra Steen, wife of prime minister Göran Persson.

Such positions should be advertised publicly and an open application process should take place.

Another rule is named after Ilmar Reepalu, the Social Democrat leader of Malmö council who is currently under investigation for accepting bribes. Reepalu denies that a paid-for trip to South Africa by the head of an IT company which won a major council contract was corruption, but Leijonborg says it is an example of how politicians must be extremely careful in accepting gifts.

Other proposals are designed to increase openness of party financing (‘Lex LO’), to stop politicians from having other jobs which could conflict with their political duties (‘Lex Ringholm’) and to prevent party workers from submitting letters and emails under false names to damage opponents (‘Lex Mailgate’).

“I hope that a public discussion can now begin about how elected public servants can avoid letting themselves be corrupted by power,” wrote Leijonborg.

Arne Kjörnsberg, the chairman of the parliamentary finance committee and ex-chairman of the Social Democrats’ ethics committee, agreed that the idea of ethical regulations was a good one. But he rejected the examples chosen by the Liberal Party leader.

“A poor show, a real low point. He still thinks there is something going on with Bosse Ringholm and Enskede IK. The case is closed, there was never any prosecution for tax evasion,” said Kjörnsberg to TT.

Kjörnsberg added that he would like to see another rule added to Leijonborg’s eight: that members of parliament should not be chairmen of big pressure groups, such as Christian Democrat Mats Odell at aviation organisation Svenskt flyg.

He also demanded that contributions to parties from think tank Timbro and the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise should be made public.

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Louis Roper