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Bodström chooses family over Riksdag

TT/The Local · 15 Oct 2010, 07:43

Published: 15 Oct 2010 07:43 GMT+02:00

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Bodström informed party leader Mona Sahlin of his decision late Thursday night, according to the Aftonbladet newspaper.

Bodström told the paper that he would have regrets the rest of his life if he didn’t choose to be with his children.

Sahlin told Bodström that she wanted him to remain in politics, but that his family should be his first priority.

Bodström’s wife and four children have been living in western Massachusetts for the past six weeks.

“I’ve spoken with my wife and I don’t want to make my children suffer by giving up this dream. We’ve planned this for such a long time,” he told Aftonbladet.

Bodström explained that many leading Social Democratic colleagues, including former prime minister Göran Persson, under whom Bodström served in the last Social Democratic-led government, advised him to think about his family.

Writing on his blog, Bodström also cited the many votes he received in the recent elections as another complicating factor in his decision. He said he also discussed his situation with Social Democratic colleagues Mona Sahlin, Ulrica Messing, Jens Orback, Mikael Damberg, and others in the party.

“They want me to continue in politics but also say I should think about my family. I’ve obviously also discussed the situation with my wife and children,” he wrote.

“It feels like I’ve made the right decision. My children are becoming more entrenched in their lives here in school, sports, and with friends. If I suddenly yanked them out and broke off their year ahead of time it would have major consequences for them. This is something we’ve planned for a long time.”

On Wednesday, Bodström learned that his request for a leave of absence from the Riksdag had been denied. He had applied to take parental leave from October 4th through December 3rd.

He had traveled to the United States with his family following Sweden’s September 19th general elections, prior to learning that his application for leave had been rejected.

Bodström was disappointed by the decision, arguing that the Riksdag ought to make it easier for politicians to balance work and family.

He explained that taking time off from the Riksdag ought to be easier to manage than in many other workplaces because there are substitute MPs who can easily take over the responsibility of another parliamentarian in the case of an absence.

Instead, he was forced to choose between letting down his family or giving up his seat in the Riksdag.

“It’s hard to say no to the job and it’s hard to say no to one’s family. But life is full of hard choices,” Bodström told the TT news agency earlier in the week.

The Riksdag has strict rules governing leave for elected representatives. According to the regulations, leave requests are only granted for international assignments, illness, or parental leave. And in those cases rules stipulate that the leave be full-time, not only part-time.

However, according to Sweden’s National Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan), Bodström only has the right to part-time parental leave because his youngest son attends school in the United States.

Story continues below…

The decision was hard, Bodström told Aftonbladet, but that he received a lot of support from his fellow Social Democrats, some of whom argued that taking time off from the Riksdag could be beneficial.

The decision to give up his Riksdag seat doesn't necessarily mean that Bodström is giving up politics completely, as he has indicated he will continue working to help the Social Democrats take back power.

“I’m always going to be a Social Democrat and I’m ready to be there if Mona Sahlin needs my support,” he said.

Bodström will be replaced in the Riksdag by 47-year-old Yilmaz Kerimo from Södertälje.

Kerimo, a native of Turkey who has lived in Sweden for 32 years, was first elected to the Riksdag in 1998, but lost his seat following the Social Democrats’ poor showing in the 2010 elections.

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

08:34 October 15, 2010 by Nomark
This is all a little ridiculous. He should have sought a definitive legal opinion on his proposed leave of absence before he went to the States.
08:38 October 15, 2010 by miss79
leave sweden, good decision as sweden wont be a tolerate country anymore..good choice...lol
08:40 October 15, 2010 by ChrisEdmSkiBum
I think this is really good! Our politicians are just as much human as we all are and need their families and friends too. Why should some people be treted so differently? Go Bodström! It shows that our red greens have hearts!
09:05 October 15, 2010 by Rap43
Ah... I sense a candidate for party leader in the making...
09:08 October 15, 2010 by Puffin

He was already offered the party leadership and turned it down in 2006

Sahlin was around the 4th or 5th choice - no-one wanted the job
10:12 October 15, 2010 by Walevska
Respect, Bodstrom
10:44 October 15, 2010 by Audrian
Does anybody knows why his family has moved to the US?
11:15 October 15, 2010 by Alf Garnett
@ Audrian: MONEY innit!!
11:25 October 15, 2010 by Åskar

If I remember correctly he's going to collect data for a book comparing the US and Sweden (or something like that).
11:53 October 15, 2010 by Syftfel
Why would he come to the US? Isnt't that disengenuous? Wouldn't it be more appropriate for this Mona lapdog to move to North Korea, Venezuela or Cuba? After all, those are the policies he has been promoting as a social dem. He'll be happier in those places no doubt? Anyway,the temporary democrat experiment in the US will come to an abrubt end with our midterm elections on November 2nd. So stay home Bodström, or move to China!
12:23 October 15, 2010 by Puffin
Many Swedes like the idea of their children living abroad for a term or a year and experiencing other cultures and ecoming naturally billigual

His professions are also perfect as he may be able to do some legal work remotely and he is also a novellist - so taking a year out to write is not a problem. His wife is a teacher and university lecturer so it is possble that she is working
13:18 October 15, 2010 by NickM
I'm gld he´s gone. This is the man who used a government helicopter at public expense to fly home his family from a holiday in Gotland. He's in the top 10 most absent politicians from votes at the Riksdag because he's too busy trying to make money from his law firm. He was trying to rip off the system here again by having the best of both worlds - a secure 50,000 a month job in the Riksdag while taking a 3 month "time-out" living it up in America at public expense. Good riddens.
00:14 October 16, 2010 by Toonie
Not content with a safe parliamentary seat under a 'list', proportional representation system, he wants a year off as well. How many Swedes, when facing difficulties, can appeal directly to their MPs for help against the arbitrary decisions of civil servants? I'd be interested to know. In truly representative systems, MPs represent and assist hundreds, if not thousands, of constituents every year. Has this man ever shown that much commitment to constituents, in order to deserve a year off?
02:28 October 16, 2010 by james7
@NickM, If he did all that in Sweden, he should run for office in the US. He would fit right in.
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