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Borg tops in Sweden power rankings

Finance minister Anders Borg has surpassed prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt as Sweden’s most influential powerbroker, according to a new ranking.

Borg tops in Sweden power rankings

Borg’s top ranking comes from the weekly Swedish news magazine Fokus, which published its annual list of Sweden’s 100 most important powerbrokers on Friday.

The rankings are based on a combination of several criteria, including presence in the media, formal power, informal power, and other factors.

Last year, Borg landed in third place in the Fokus rankings, but shot past Reinfeldt to the top spot in 2008, leaving his boss to claim the number two spot.

“He has taken on a unique role when it comes to shaping the Moderates’ and the entire Alliance’s policies,” said Fokus editor-in-chief Martin Ahlquist, to the TT news agency.

This year’s list is clearly affected by the current financial crisis.

“For example, [national debt office head] Bo Lundgren has shown up on the list and that’s before we take into consideration the fact that he actually nationalized [troubled investment bank] Carnegie,” said Alhquist.

Politics also appear to be the arena from which Swedes are most able to exert their influence, as all but three of the top 20 spots on the list are occupied by politicians.

Curiously enough Sweden’s official head of state, King Carl Gustaf XVI, is not among Sweden’s 100 most powerful people, although his daughter, Crown Princess Victoria, managed to grab 60th place, up from her 95th place ranking the year before.

As in past years, this year’s Fokus list is dominated by men, although the 31 women among Sweden’s most powerful represents a marginal increase from the 30 women who made last year’s list.

Of Sweden’s most powerful women, Centre Party leader Maud Olofsson ranks the highest, landing in fifth place overall.

Olofsson is followed by another powerful female politician, Social Democratic party leaders Mona Sahlin.

Here is a list of the top 20 most powerful Swedes, as ranked by Fokus magazine, with last year’s ranking in parentheses:

1 (3) Anders Borg, finance minister (Moderate Party)

2 (1) Fredrik Reinfeldt, prime minister, party leader (Moderate Party)

3 (7) Jan Björklund, education minister, party leaders (Liberal Party)

4 (4) Carl Bildt, foreign minister (Moderate Party)

5 (6) Maud Olofsson, enterprise minister, party leader (Centre Party)

6 (2) Mona Sahlin, party leader (Social Democrats)

7 (9) Per Schlingmann, party secretary (Moderate Party)

8 (8) Wanja Lundby-Wedin, head of the Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO)

9 (39) Stefan Ingves, head of the Riksbank

10 (5) Margot Wallström, EU commissioner (Social Democrats)

11 (11) Göran Hägglund, health minister, party leader (Christian Democrats)

12 (-) H G Wessberg, state secretary to the prime minister (Moderate Party)

13 (19) Leif Johansson, CEO Volvo

14 (15) Cecilia Malmström, EU minister (Liberal Party)

15 (50) Thomas Bodström, Riksdag member (Social Democrats)

16 (33) Mats Odell, financial markets minister (Christian Democrats)

17 (26) Maria Wetterstrand, spokesperson (Green Party)

18 (16) Beatrice Ask, justice minister (Moderate Party)

19 (14) Andreas Carlgren, environment minister (Centre Party)

20 (49) Nyamko Sabuni, integration minister (Liberal Party)

BUDGET

‘Weak, slow and difficult’ economy ahead: Borg

Swedes are in for a rough economic ride in years ahead, as Finance Minister Anders Borg has warned of rising unemployment, weaker economic growth and rising public debt in the spring fiscal policy bill released on Monday.

'Weak, slow and difficult' economy ahead: Borg

“There is a strong headwind from the global economy, which is holding back the recovery in Sweden,” Borg said in a statement.

According to the latest government forecasts, the Swedish economy is expected to grow at 1.2 percent in 2013 before creeping up to 2.2 percent next year and 3.6 percent in 2015.

Unemployment, meanwhile, is expected to reach 8.3 percent in 2013, rising to 8.4 percent next year before dropping to 8.1 percent in 2015.

“We have weak, slow, and difficult years ahead of us,” Borg told the Aftonbladet newspaper.

The new figures mark a significant downgrade from the government’s last economic prognosis released in December, which forecast 2014 growth of 3.0 percent, while the jobless rate was expected to peak at 8.3 percent next year before falling to 7.4 percent in 2015.

Borg said that Sweden is in the middle of a nine-year period of sluggish economic growth that began back in 2008.

“Our strong position and the confidence in Sweden’s public finances are making it possible to proceed with more measures to mitigate the impact of the international crisis on the labour market and support a gradual recovery,” said Borg.

Sweden plans to spend 3 billion kronor ($470 million) in 2013 and 2014 to combat unemployment, adding that the final budget bill to be presented in the autumn may contain “some room” for additional spending.

“The government’s goal is to strengthen the public finances as the economy recovers so as to achieve the surplus target. We will not deviate from this objective,” said Borg.

According to Monday’s figures, the government expects Sweden’s public debt to reach 1.6 percent of GDP in 2013 before falling to 1.0 percent next year. The government expects Sweden’s budget to reach balance in 2015.

Household consumption is seen as a key driver for the Swedish economy, with the government warning that a higher than estimated savings rate could negatively affect the country’s economic recovery.

“If household behaviour proves to be different and savings remain at a high level, Sweden’s economic recovery could be more drawn out than what’s expected in the forecast, with higher unemployment as a result,” the government said in a statement.

Erica Blomgren, analyst at bank SEB, said the government’s previous growth forecast from the autumn was “too optimistic”, while the current forecast was “more in line” with that of the central bank.

Sweden will hold legislative elections in September 2014, when the left-wing opposition, headed by Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven, hopes to wrestle power from the centre-right government in power since 2006.

In a speech Friday, Löfven promised that if the Social Democrats were to win the elections, they would bring the unemployment rate down to 4.7 percent by 2020.

“The government has failed on the jobs front, and Sweden today has higher unemployment than comparable countries in the European Union,” Löfven lamented, citing eurozone countries such as Austria, Belgium, Finland and the Netherlands.

Until September last year, Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt’s government had aimed to have a budget surplus in 2013.

According to Monday’s forecasts, public debt is expected to climb to 42 percent of gross domestic product this year, compared to 38.2 percent in 2012.

TT/AFP/The Local/dl

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