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Ex-politicians cash in on early pensions pay out

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Ex-politicians cash in on early pensions pay out
11:28 CEST+02:00
During the first half of 2011 more than 450 former local politicians shared a total of 42 million kronor ($6.3 million) in "temporary" early retirement pensions pay out, a study carried out by Sveriges Radio (SR) shows.

“But my dear fellow, it's not like I have days when I sit around and twiddle my thumbs. I am involved in many different things,” former local politician Bertil Daniels from the county of Dalarna in central Sweden told local radio.

Daniels, a member of the Centre Party, has received about 250,000 kronor per annum over the past 12 years.

According to the pensions agreement agreed by the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, politicians that leave their post by choice or are forced out can receive a temporary pension from the age of 50 to retirement age (65 in Sweden).

In many cases the retired politicians are guaranteed several hundred thousand kronor up until they are 65.

Daniels left his post by choice at the age of 51. He doesn't think that the remuneration, which is given without any requirements on the recipient to look for a new job, directly contradicts his party's employment policy.

“This was an agreement which was made by the Association for Local Authorities (Kommunförbundet) and the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (Sveriges Kommuner och Landsting) and I had no reason to go against that in any way,” Daniels said.

Annie Lööf, soon to be voted in as the new party leader of the Centre Party, wrote an opinion piece in daily Expressen in June, where she argued that the same employment conditions should apply for all of society.

“It is not feasible that those of us who are actively working to change the Swedish social security systems from benefit traps to insurance against temporary changes ourselves are guaranteed an income which encourages passivity and benefit dependency,” she wrote.

According to Sveriges Radio, Daniels has been able to collect just over 3 million kronor since he left his post. Currently he is chairman of the local ice hockey club Leksand IF.

Currently 63 years of age, he has two more years of collecting temporary pension from the state.

“I looked for work in the very beginning, but was unsuccessful,” Daniels told SR.

Although Lööf wrote that there is a good reason for why there is an income guarantee for politicians as they don't enjoy the benefits of a notice period or job security, she also thinks that this should be temporary and gradually decline in order to encourage work.

“Our basic belief is that everyone can and everyone is needed,” Lööf wrote in June.

According to the SR investigation, over 450 Swedish politicians have claimed the temporary pension after leaving their posts.

Former councillor from Arboga, in central Sweden, Social Democrat Kjell Söderström moved to the Phillippines where he is currently staying at a scuba diving centre, after leaving his post on the local council.

For the last seven years he has received 300,000 kronor per annum from Sweden.

“I definitely benefit from it. If I lived in Sweden I would probably think it was a reasonable remuneration, but here prices are a bit different,” he told SR.

If Söderström continues to claim his pension until he reaches retirement age, he will have collected about 4 million kronor in total. According to Söderström he doesn't have to work.

“I might help out a bit in the diving shop,” he told SR.

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