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Bodström 'faces tough choice' over leave rebuff

Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 13 Oct 2010, 17:20

Published: 13 Oct 2010 17:20 GMT+02:00

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Writing on his blog on Wednesday after being told of the Riksdag party group leader's decision to reject his application for parental leave, Bodström said:

"I think it is a shame that the Riksdag keeps to its restrictive line with regards to parental leave... The decision will mean that it will be more difficult for young people to combine working politically with a family."

Social Democrat parliamentary group leader, Sven-Erik Österberg, confirmed the decision, explaining that there was no grounds to make an exception for Bodström.

Thomas Bodström, who has four children that attend school in the US, applied for a leave of absence shortly after the Swedish election. He has said that he wants his children to experience life in the US and that he intends to write a book comparing Swedish and American politics.

As his children are of school age, he can only be remunerated for 25 percent parental leave according to Social Insurance Agency (Forsäkringskassan) regulations, and the Riksdag decided not to make an exception from the parliamentary rules which stipulate that parental leave can only be granted on a full-time basis.

"I am now facing a difficult choice. Either I come home and continue my work in parliament or I relinquish my mandate," Bodström wrote on Wednesday. "To give up my seat does not feel good, given that despite the election defeat there are so many people who voted for our party and for me personally... On the other hand, it neither feels great that my family should have to shorten their stay here."

Bodström has previously been criticised by party colleagues and opponents for his busy schedule, and accused of lacking the time to adequately perform all of his commitments. Bodström has repeatedly rejected claims that he receives special treatment from the party hierarchy.

The former justice minister was this week also removed from his post as chair of the parliamentary justice committee in anticipation of the decision over his leave of absence.

Story continues below…

Bodström's US residence also meant that the Red-Green opposition lost his vote in the election of the Riksdag speaker, Per Westerberg, last week, as without an approved absence, a replacement could not be appointed.

Bodström stated on his blog that he will take a decision on how to proceed at the latest on Monday. The speaker has notified that the decision will be formally presented to the chamber for confirmation on October 19th.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

18:36 October 13, 2010 by maxbrando
Excellent decision by the State. Why are his 4 children in the U.S.A. anyway? Sucking up their resources and places in the schools? This man is arrogant, and needs a good caning by his father. The big spoiled brat..
20:41 October 13, 2010 by Andy from NYC
Justice Minister? We should demand a review of Justice while he was Minister!!! His judgment is obviously impaired!!!!!!

This completely arrogant scumbag milks the system shamelessly... Why did he wait to request the parental leave until after his re-election???? Smug? Dishonest?

Why does he send his kids to school in the States if he has been a longtime politician here in Sweden????

If I send my kids to school in the States, it's specifically because of Toblerone Mona and Thomas Bodström... Can ya blame me?

Bodström---you give honest politicians of all parties a bad name! Shame on you!!!!
21:09 October 13, 2010 by MarkinBoston
Let me see if I understand this.... he ran for office, won, and left the country? And he wants to keep his office? I must be confused. What am I missing?

By the way - Andy from NYC: 'honest politicians?' What's the Swedish word for oxymoron?
21:23 October 13, 2010 by Rey Stockholm
He will not give up his seat as it is too lucrative - isnt socialism great.
21:53 October 13, 2010 by Nemesis
He wants to be in the USA.

Let him go.

Once he gets out of the airport in the USA, invalidate his passport. That way he can't come back.
00:46 October 14, 2010 by tigger007
what is the deal with having the AMERICAN experience !!??

why is it that every dusche bag with money in sweden wants to live in the usa princess M and this man? they didn't have citizenship in america and their kids won't be able to get it either. i have been living in america for 30 some odd years,but does that make me cooler than most? how does this man pay for his kids to be in america full time. why in the hell would this man write a book about american politics when he himself never really lived in america? you can't compare america politics with swedish politics who is he fooling. does the AMERICAN EXPERIENCE give you the upper hand in live? someone be like craige david and fill me in! the american in sweden! thanks!
01:10 October 14, 2010 by twitter
My understanding is that Bodstrom came to the US with his wife and four children to do research for his book comparing politics between US and Sweden. The issue of his not gaining ''paternity leave, like every other Swedish citizen is what's being called into question, not his right to be in the US. The conflict lies in the fact that his service is expected during his entire term, unlike a regular job where fathers are granted paid paternity leave upon the birth of their children. This was B's premise. I am uncertain of the dates, but again, we need to ask ourselves if this applies when our service is public. A great debate is due. He could begin his book with stating that most men aren't granted paternity leave in the states, whether or not they are public officials. I've not heard of any paternity leaves for fathers in any federal or state office in the US; does it exist? Whether or not B relocated to the US after his successful election is the real question. It also raises a conflict of interest issue: writing a book while collecting paternity leave pay, under any conditions? Especially because terms are exactly that, elected terms that demand a presence, especially for votes that represent that person's constituents. Does anyone know what the quid pro quo is for elected females who seek their six month paid maternity leave? Leaving the country is not the real question, it's more about accountability when you are an elected official! If one is going to be out of work, as they say, is it okay to work on a book, while the government pays you? In the US if you are writing, but not earning while you write, and you just lost your job, you may collect unemployment, so long as you can prove that you are seeking employment. There's another chapter subject for the book, eh? We first need to look at the real issues before commenting fairly.
08:53 October 14, 2010 by Puffin

You don't understand how he affords to live in the US?

Probably with the money he has made from his various careers outside politics

- he was a professional fotball/soccer player in the 1980s

- he is a very successful trial lawyer

- he is a company director

- he is an novelist writing political/legal thrillers

So I doubt he is short of a few kronor

It may also be that the US trip is for his wife's career - I think she is a University lecturer
09:34 October 14, 2010 by RobinHood
It's not a tough choice - resign. Then his public duties as a representative of the Swedish Parliament can be carried by someone who is actually in Sweden most of the time.
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