Last week, Jan Emanuel Johansson, who won the 2001 season of the Expidition: Robinson reality television series, was chosen to take over the Riksdag seat recently vacated by Pär Nuder.
Johansson held a place in the Riksdag between 2002 and 2006 and has most recently served on the Norrtälje local council, just north of Stockholm.
Early in the week, the Realtid.se business news website revealed that Johansson planned to rent out his two-room apartment in the trendy Mosebäcke neighbourhood of Södermalm in Stockholm for 10,000 kronor ($1,100) per week.
“That’s clearly an excessive rent. The rent should be at roughly the same level as other apartments in the area,” said laywer Per Gunnar Nyström from the Swedish Union of Tenants (Hyresgästföreningen), to the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.
Johansson admitted later on his blog that it was “an embarrassing attempt to rent out an apartment for a high price.”
“That’s why I wrote Janne Johansson instead of Jan Emanuel on the advertisement.”
But the apology came too late to escape criticism from Johansson’s fellow Social Democrats.
Carina Moberg, head of the party’s housing policy working group, was left searching for answers as to what Johansson was thinking.
“I hope he has a really good explanation,” she told the TT news agency, adding that, as someone who holds a position of public trust, Johansson should hold himself to a higher standard.
“It’s a real pain in the neck,” she said.
Then, just as the dust was settling following Johansson’s first real estate rental gaffe, it emerged that the 34-year-old politician had also attempted to rent out a house on the Baltic island of Gotland for 35,000 kronor a week.
The 160-square metre house is located in Visby and owned by one of Johansson’s companies.
It was made available for rent during the summer tourist season in another advertisement on the Blocket.se buy-and-sell site also signed by “Janne Johansson”.
The new development surprised Hans Gärdeklev, from the tenants union.
“Oh! That’s something new. Most people are willing to accept higher prices during the high season, but this is totally deplorable,” he told SvD.
Once again, Moberg was highly critical.
“This obviously is out of line with our housing policy,” she told SvD.
By the end of the day on Wednesday, Johnasson said he was planning to sell the house in Visby in an attempt to damp down the controversy.
“Anything in order to put a stop to this hounding by the media which is stopping me from preparing for my upcoming duty as a member of the Riksdag,” he wrote on his blog.
Johansson added, however, that he doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong.
“We obviously try to get as much as we can during the summer weeks. And regardless of how un-Social Democratic it sounds, it is the market which sets prices,” he wrote.
“I am however sorry. Sorry that my fellow party members, friends, and family have gotten caught in the crosshairs of a media hunt,” he continued, adding it was “misguided” of him to use Blocket.se to advertise the site, rather than an estate agent.