Reinfeldt grilled by committee

Sweden's prime minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, has been grilled by a parliamentary committee about the way he appointed his cabinet.

Among the issues brought up by the Constitution Committee were Foreign Minister Carl Bildt’s share options in investment company Vostok Nafta, which has significant interests in Russian energy company Gazprom.

He was also quizzed by the committee’s Social Democratic chairwoman Berit Andnor about whether he checked ministers’ backgrounds before appointing them. Andnor was referring particularly to the fact that two ministers were forced to resign just days after they were appointed last October.

Reinfeldt said he did not have a checklist.

“It’s about confidence and mutual trust,” he said.

Pressed by Andnor about whether he checked to see whether ministers had used untaxed labour, had poor credit ratings or had financial interests that could affect their impartiality, Reinfeldt insisted that “my starting point has not been to run through the entire penal code.”

Certain minor transgressions can be overlooked, the prime minister said.

“There is a limit, but I don’t accept that nothing should be accepted,” he said, arguing that such an attitude would be tantamount to insisting that politicians were a different sort of person.