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Bag lady Sahlin photo stirs moral debate

Christine Demsteader · 23 Jan 2010, 14:44

Published: 23 Jan 2010 14:44 GMT+01:00

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The leaders of Sweden's political parties were photographed following a parliamentary debate on Wednesday and a red handbag has emerged at the centre of a new talking point.

Sahlin's Louis Vuitton number has given rise to both criticism and support from commentators, bloggers and politicians alike.

"A Social Democrat party leader must always have social equality at the fore," said left-wing writer Göran Greider to newspaper Aftonbladet.

"Consumerism comes from the rich. And the knock-on effect is that people loan money to be able to buy the same things. That's why political leaders, especially from the left, must have a certain amount of responsibility. They need to be careful."

Sahlin has not commented on the bag in question but her press secretary Camila Buzaglo told newspaper Svenska Dagbladet that funds for it did not come out of Sahlin’s own pocket.

"It was given to her by a friend for her 50th birthday," she said.

Barbro Hedvall, former opinion writer for Dagens Nyheter and author of the book Style and Politics (Stil och Politik), thinks the debate has gone too far. At the same time she says choice of attire for those in the public eye is important.

"Clothes, posture and even hairstyles have meaning," she told SvD. "Mona Sahlin has changed her style radically since she became party leader from tough city girl with short skirts to something a bit more average. A bit boring I think."

Some of Sahlin's party peers have jumped to her defence, including former equality ombudsman Claes Borgström, speaking to Aftonbladet.

"Had it been a man with a bag in the same price category no one would have reacted this way," he said.

An article in Aftonbladet points out that Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt owns a luxury briefcase worth around the same amount of money as Sahlin’s bag.

Story continues below…

It was given to him as a gift by French president Nicholas Sarkozy in 2007.

"I don’t think that leading politicians need to start giving an account for what clothes they have, Reinfeldt told the newspaper.

“I haven't asked any question's about Mona Sahlin’s bag and I don’t need to answer any when it comes to my own things," he added.

Christine Demsteader (christine.demsteader@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

15:45 January 23, 2010 by Marc the Texan
She doesn't need to give account, but then again does the party need an out of touch leader? Nothing wrong with extravagance. People just don't like people to portray themselves in ways that aren't true. What more can the proletariat ask for?
16:02 January 23, 2010 by Brtahan
So what as long as she is buying from her own salary ! Hard Earned money.

It depends on the person what he or she wants to do with their money.
16:09 January 23, 2010 by livinginsweden
boring.. boring... boring .....

ha ha
16:24 January 23, 2010 by Rick Methven
"It was given to her by a friend for her 50th birthday," she said.

I gave my wife a more expensive present than that for her 50th.

Why should she not be seen with a present. What crap some people talk!
16:50 January 23, 2010 by Grippen
First a trip on a private jet to Mallorca, and now the BAG. Mona Sahlin is really good at creating a rich bitch image.

The question is: what she is doing in the Social Democrat party?
16:52 January 23, 2010 by Nemesis
What the hell is wrong with having a handbag?

She has a Vutton, good for her.

Why are they not complaining about Reinfeldt's briefcase?

This is an attack on her for the sake of an attack. This is just an excuse to complain about her for no reason.

I do not agree with her on a lot of things, but I do think complaining about her having a handbag is nonsense.
17:32 January 23, 2010 by G Kin
Nemesis, this isn't just about her having a hand bag but the PRICE tag on it!

And she is a socila democrate who is supose to be moderate, not extravagant.

Salin and Reinfeld do not share political believes when it comes to taxes for example.

Salin wants more tax on rich people to share with the poor.

Reinfeld doesn't want to tax the rich too much for thier wealth.

17:34 January 23, 2010 by Grippen
Ergh.... socialdemocrats are supposed to represent working class interests aren't they? Isn't it their difference compared to Moderates?

So Fredrik Reinfeldt is at least honest with his electorate - he was representing the upper-middle class and the rich from the beginning.

And lady Mona could learn better from the reaction to her jet set trip to Mallorca - but now she chooses to be completely ignorant. And that gives public sympathies to ... Sverige Demokraterna, who choose Baltic "kryssningar" for their time off, just as common Svensson does.
17:57 January 23, 2010 by STOCKHOMME
Of course Mona can afford a Vuitton bag, and that does not make her a traitress, only a fashion victim. If any fight has to take place, it should be against the fashion diktats and, in such a fight, everyone's pugnactiy is needed, including Mona's.
18:19 January 23, 2010 by Essingen
Past performance would suggest that she bought it with a creditcard.
18:35 January 23, 2010 by Nemesis
@ G Kin

Someone gave her a present, so what. That is her personal business, no one else's.

I got a more expensive handbag some years ago as a present. Should I be in the newspapers for recieving a Hermes bag? I think not.

I don't give a dam if she appears naked, dress's as a dominatrix carrying a whip or is wearing a bikini. In her own time she can go to orgies, buy butt plugs and figure skate dressed as a lemon, for all I care.

I only care what her policies are and how she plans to implement them.

If she is planning on taxing her friends, then good on her for being putting the policy before her friends. I might not agree with it, but will respect her more if it is affecting her friends first.

I plan to vote on policies and how they will likely be implemented. I could not care less if someone has a handbag which most women do, in case you have not noticed.

For the record I would vote for her, before voting for that impotent idiot Rheinfelt.
19:41 January 23, 2010 by G Kin

If it was a gift then it certainly was a bad one.

There is a difference when you are a public figure and yes, I want to see her practical in implimenting the policies she and her party stand for. Not some elitist politician telling people how the best way for sweden is through moderation but living the exact opposite. That is part of what it means getting closer to the ordinary man in the street who will never know her any more than that.

Except that bag was a bribe then now I know. Have you heard the saying?

"Tell me who your friend is and I will tell you who you are"!

A good public image for an in-touch politician in an election year, with the economy in the toilet, sky high unemployment, invandrarer (som jag) som står utanför samhellet etc...

Great!. I am not suprise some people within her party think she should remain as the party leader but NOT CANDIDATE in the next election.
20:51 January 23, 2010 by Nemesis
@ G Kin

It was a gift for her 50th birthday.

Read the story, not just the headline and you will see that.

If you want to allege it was a bride contact her and state so. She can sue you for slander, then maybe you will stop making crazy allegations.

Some people have good friends who do something special for special birthdays like 50tha nd 60th. That is quite common amongst people with real social circles.
21:25 January 23, 2010 by here for the summer
@G kin ..

Not sure what your point is but I do see where Göran Greider's going with his. Reread "brave new world", perhaps George Orwell's (1984 and Animal Farm). Isn't this the end result of his required uniformity.
23:30 January 23, 2010 by wenddiver
How about she wear a Chairman Mao suite??? Goofy left. Any excuse to snd quelch freedom, I doubt if there is anything fun, good or wholsome they are not against.

The day after Obama got clobbered in Massachuttes everybody at work was back to wearing Brooks Brothers neckties and gold Rolex Presidential watches. This nutty proliteriate stuff is boring, repressive and the clothing is ugly.

Long live decadence and fun, we deserve it based on hard work and Darwin's natural slection. If the government wants to work on something it should be teaching children how to compete, so that they can have every goodthing in life.

Oh!! and for you people who disagree please let me know where to send the bill for all your dead fellow Socialists who keep washing up on our Florida beaches,because they are trying to float out of your Socialist paradise to the South (Cuba) on Milk Jugs tied together and big chunks of whatever will float.
00:37 January 24, 2010 by Farfalla
Referring to this article.... well, I don't think there's any reason or debate to tackle about the LV bag showned in that particular foto where we can see leaders of major political party in Sweden. Im afraid that the swedish mass media or the public opinion are giving more credit on those expensive things or signature clothes that swedish politicians have or wearing ;-) But Mona Sahlin could hide it behind (for a moment) - while taking a picture with her fellow politicians ;-)
00:40 January 24, 2010 by franny66
Maybe her ex husband the Chilean gave it to her, I heard she was right good thing in the sack LOL
01:25 January 24, 2010 by Davey-jo
It's a fairly cruddy looking handbag for all that money if I be so impertinent to point out. It looks like a shopping bag!
04:06 January 24, 2010 by doocho
Her bag matches my Porsche 911 turbo...I like it. Why shouldn't there be a difference in pay and lifestyle for those that work harder?
10:01 January 24, 2010 by Douglas Garner
I mean, really... Pahlin should carry her things around in a blue plastic Ikea bag like the rest of us!!!
11:17 January 24, 2010 by uunbeliever
Hope lies in the proles. Why do we concern ourselves with this garbage? Because it keeps us occupied along with our Victory Gin, and cigarettes. Wake up and see the lie, nobody represents the working man (or woman) it is up to us to storm the castle and shout "off with their heads!".

Why do you swedes have no problem with how much royal weddings cost but this bag is an issue.

Get in line, bend over and keep cheering.
11:57 January 24, 2010 by Beynch
Using a quote from 'The Importance of being Ernest"; A handbag????? While there is in and of itself nothing wrong with someone schlepping on a 6000 Crowns handbag, with this woman, running on a marxist platform, it is especially revealing. After she and her pack of, more-equal-than-others, socialist filth are done with us, we'll all be carrying our lipstick in sack cloth. Mona's sticky fingers of course will still be fishing her compact out of her Louis Vuitton. It is but another example of the hypocrisy of these people. Entrepeneurship is a nasty epithet in her, 'I'm in charge' orwellian world. It is the duty of every decent swede to see to it that the Social Democrats, being the cause of so much misery in today's Sweden, get sent packing. May we read about them as a footnote, a temporary aberration, in history.
12:15 January 24, 2010 by svenskdod
...Her past misdemeanours have given rise to this question alone (Toblerone anyone?)

The fact remains, she is not qualified for even the position she is in, let alone the top job. Her views, and opinion are something that can not be aloud in office. This country will be destroyed by her.
12:49 January 24, 2010 by ericinlincs
I am sure that there must be more important things in life for you lot to discuss
14:27 January 24, 2010 by Beynch
@ericinlincs; Fact is there is right now nothing more important than to discuss Mona's hypocrisy, socialist warts and all. I intend to personally see to it that no one forgets what a piece of marxist garbage this woman really is. Let's have an open discussion about her and her ilk. Diverging opinion is welcome. Defeat the trash in September!
16:02 January 24, 2010 by Nemesis
@ Beynch

Sahlin is a socialist, not a marxist.

I disagree with her policies, but your issue does not sound like a political agreement. Do you know her?

Also what sort of government do you want elected?
18:15 January 24, 2010 by Miss Kitten
Surely there's something more important to report in the news than this tripe?
18:19 January 24, 2010 by JoeSwede
I do think her purse is significant.

First she supports an equal society in terms of take home income after taxes. She feels that actual income earned is not fair as a measure. Those that earn more should be punished, not allowed to enjoy the fruits of their hard work. Afterall the poor should be helped, and the rich don't really need the extra fruits. What has happened as these types of ideas have been implemented in Sweden is that those with connections are the ones that obtain the extra fruits. Who gets the apartments with the nice views. Who gets into certain classes at the University? Who gets the best daycare? As commerce has slowed down, those with assets have kept their favorite summery house...etc. And... Mona gets her purse. Because of her connections... and someone else who slaved was not able to buy hers due to high taxes.
19:41 January 24, 2010 by here for the summer
@joeswede .. you're right of course as Squealer say's some animals are more equal than others. but the left is mad for your same reason in this equal outcome regardless of effort society they are creating no one should have such any outward signs of wealth or fashion. Maybe it's time for the Mao suits just when they're going out in Bejing.

@nemesis .. what is the difference between extreme socialism where outcomes are made equal and communism ?
22:38 January 24, 2010 by Sashland
The group photo needs to be photo-shopped:

Please add the price tags for the wrist-watches, suits, ties, shoes...

how much did that fancy carpet and couch cost?

How much is the fine in Sweden for being sexist?

Do you keep a list of the types of cars and houses each of your politicians own - and judge them to have lower morals if they happen to buy nicer things than others?

Next up: blaming women because their wedding rings are more valuable than a man's... and they spend so much more money on their hair and cosmetics too - just too wasteful and irresponsible to be an elected official. Nice, eh?
03:26 January 25, 2010 by Davey-jo
@nemsis "Sahlin is a socialist, not a marxist." Well in plain English Rhubarb (I'm not allowed to say what plain English would really say)!

I mean you're right Sahlin is definitely not a Marxist but neither can she be called a Socialist.

I think anyone who thinks the Social Democrats are full of socialists is living on the wrong planet. These guys no more want a proletarian take over than they want a Macdonalds on the street corner. They're snobs, they're rich people with too much time on their hands so they play at being concerned about the working man/woman's condition. But basically they're just stuck up little jerks with no connection to anything. European politics is full of these types, the UK Labour party is just the same. Socialism is now just a game that rich kids play; are you a liberal (in the US sense) or a liberal (in the Euro sense). Nobody actually thinks these idiots will improve their living standards.Game over; capitalismus victor!
08:52 January 25, 2010 by dammen
or are SWedes just reacting because of the in bred tradition of jantarlagen in which you should not dress better than others or push yourself forward, as you are saying to others that you have more money than they and are better than them!

This is one reason why foreigners do not do so well here in Sweden
12:42 January 25, 2010 by here for the summer
@dammen very good observation .. I've never thought of that

Perhaps Socialism in the Nordic countries is an expression of jantarlagen. My Swedish wife has suggested that although most Swedes don't have religious beliefs that Swedish socialism is a faith combined with a membership akin to a religion.
14:01 January 25, 2010 by izbz
It is only a bag, whether she buy it or got it as a birthday gift, does it really matters? I bought my wife a fender stratocaster and amplifier just because it was her dream to own that since she was 14 years old. What Salin does with her hard earn money it's her own bloody buisness. Maybe next time should suggest that the stateminister and all they men politicans can only be allow to wear boxer shorts that cost less than 99 kr or those buy 3 pay for 2 boxers.
17:38 January 25, 2010 by Bolshie
At least it wasn't bought with taxpayers money, unlike the moat and duckpond brigade here.

Still some of the press are right that it is inappropriate for a politician of the "left" to parade blingy symbols of ostentatious wealth. Wish our so called "Labour" politicians were more closely questioned on similar matters. MPs should have to live on the average workers wage nothing more. That way they would stay in touch with the electorate.
18:47 January 25, 2010 by bezjaj
Her bag looks totally empty..as her political consciousness. I guess you can fly pretty far with a sardonic smile and a load of BS.
19:25 January 25, 2010 by Bolshie
She really reminds me of one of those vacous opportunist New Labour clones that we have here. Bit like a Swedish version of Harriet Harman, Labour's deputy leader.
22:52 January 25, 2010 by joaquin75
as long she bought this from her own money its okay. Mind your own business and much better to discuss important issue than wasting your time criticizing her bag.

If you bought an expensive thing and somebody criticize you... What do you feel?
02:09 January 26, 2010 by Larry Thrash
Silly, silly, silly class warfare. I guess we should all live in poverty to make the press happy. I don't agree with her politics but this silly.
12:25 January 26, 2010 by karex

I think that you have a point there. Though it seems to me that the initial intention behind jantarllagen may have been in altruistic, as with most concepts invented by man it has evolved and lost sight of its original intentions. It seems to have evolved into institutionalized envy. I have noticed some people who want to work half as much but still demand the same privileges as those who work twice as hard. It's a pity.

@here for the summer

Funny you should mention your wife's comment. I have been noticing this religious-like tendency for a long time. People like to say that Sweden has become a secular society, but I can't see that. What I see is that it is as religious as ever, and the only difference is the object of worship: God has now become money and taxes.
15:17 January 27, 2010 by mannorun
@larry Thrash same thing i said.

These dudes won't look for something else to feed the ever demanding public. Not a small 6000sek bag, for crying out loud that is not even up to my weekend night change.
01:10 January 28, 2010 by Beavis
All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others..

(Social Democrat party slogan)
14:04 January 28, 2010 by Beynch
@nemesis: There is absolutely no distinction between the goal of socialism, and the goal of marxism! None! Total and complete State control of our lives and all means of producton. That's undeniable even to you nemesis. It's a fact. Socialism will cheat, steal and lie to achieve its ends. Marxism has the added element of force, military or otherwise, in addition to cheating, stealing and lying. Look it up. Hence it is critical for Sweden that she crushes Mona's socialism by giving it its final death sentence in September. Vote for a free and independent Sweden, defy socialism!
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