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Riksdag 'burger bribe' reported to police

TT/The Local/dl · 15 Feb 2012, 07:52

Published: 15 Feb 2012 07:52 GMT+01:00

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“We think that lowering the value-added tax paid by restaurants is an appropriate measure,” wrote Max in a letter sent to each of the Riksdag's 349 members, along with a gift certificate worth 100 kronor ($15).

But the move was met with criticism from several MPs.

“It seems like a clumsy attempt to try to buy sympathy among members of the Riksdag. It's extremely upsetting,” Left Party MP Jens Holm told the TT news agency.

Now the campaign has been reported to police.

In the letter, Max CEO Richard Bergfors expressed his regret that the Riksdag's own restaurant had opted not to lower its prices in the wake of a lowering of the value-added tax paid by restaurants from 25 percent to 12 percent, which took effect at the turn of the year.

He goes on to suggest hungry MPs to come eat at Max instead.

“For us at Max, it's obvious that we should give the amount of the reduced value-added tax back to customers through lower prices,” he wrote.

According to Bergfors, Max expects to give 140 million kronor back to customers via reduced prices and to add 150 to 250 new jobs to deal with the expected increase in demand as a result of the tax reduction.

“A restaurant job is often a young person's first step into the job market and that's why the reform is important,” he wrote.

Social Democrat MP Eva-Lena Jansson plans on sending the gift certificate back to Max.

“I don't think we're the ones that need this gift certificate,” she told TT.

“I voted against the reduction because I think the money should instead have been used for education and labour market policies.”

Even the Moderate Party, a primary backer of the measure, has urged its MPs to refrain from using the gift card.

“We don't think these sort of gifts are appropriate even if the amount is rather small,” Moderate spokesperson Petter Larsson told TT.

Story continues below…

Left Party MP Ulla Andersson has reported the campaign to police, telling the lobbying trade publication Dagensopinion.se that the gift cards “crossed the line”.

According to Max's Bergfors, however, the thought never occurred to him that the PR stunt of sending gift cards to sitting members of parliaments could be interpreted as a bribery attempt.

An unapologetic Bergfors told the advertising trade publication Resume that the criticism was “ridiculous”, adding “it remains to be seen” if the campaign succeeds.

“The gift card was included with a letter with the message that the reduction of value-added tax for restaurants is very positive,” he told Resume.

TT/The Local/dl (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

08:28 February 15, 2012 by RobinHood
"It's extremely upsetting," Left Party MP Jens Holm

Syria burns. Thousands die every day in Africa of preventable diseases. Malmö descends into anarchy. Greece is borderline revolutionary. The Euro is about to collapse. A ten year old girl is stabbed in Gothenburg. A policeman is stabbed by a 13 year old boy in Stockholm.

But don't let that upset you Jens. Someone has sent you a 100 SEK burger voucher. Call the police! Call the fire engines! Call the army! Alarm! Alarm!
08:30 February 15, 2012 by Gletta
Exactly RobinHodd. What is extremely upsetting is the country has morons like this running it.
10:02 February 15, 2012 by engagebrain
Given, that political parties refuse to declare how and from whom they get the serious sums of money it takes to run a political party, it is absurd to get all prissy about a 100sek hamburger voucher.
10:07 February 15, 2012 by HYBRED
It seems Max is a rookie at this. They should know that politicians only take cash because of the paper trail. And it would have to be a lot more than 100kr.
10:47 February 15, 2012 by Brtahan
This tax reduction didnt reduce the prices in many restaurant, and didnt either create jobs !!! it did in fact give more money to the owners ... Sending a voucher of 100 sek or a million is a bribe. why not send it to everyone ? why just the parliament. Not all parties refuses to declare their income , instead there are parties who wanted this to be a law ! but they are not the majority ,the majority the ruling parties they are the ones against this !
10:56 February 15, 2012 by DAVID T
I thought a bribe meant you wanted something in return or is an act implying money or gift giving that alters the behavior of the recipient.
11:23 February 15, 2012 by philster61
100kr.... wow. That's some serious money
11:27 February 15, 2012 by Terri85
awwwwwwww. Are they serious?
12:22 February 15, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
Jens Holm is with the Left Party, the same party who chose a path to demotivate anyone having any ambition or succesful industry experience from staying with their party, by capping their salary at 27500/mo, and forcing their members to donate the remainder to the party.

So maybe Jens was 'extremely upset' simply because he will have to give his burger (a form of salary) back to his party administration.

More to the point this highlights the complete and mentally retarded disconnect that many elected officials have with reality, as RobinHood and David N point out.

Getting a burger after the legislation is already passed as a trivial thank you from one of the few restaurants that have lowered their prices is somehow 'extremely upsetting', but these same people feel it is fully acceptable:

- to deny the police the tools they need to fight crime and terrorism,

- to give a murderers trivial sentence and fines and ignore the plight of the victims

- to spend millions of SEK on a website to help Swedes on foreign assignments distinguish between a romantic date and prostitution, rather than setting up a website to help women who might be the subject of brutal violence at home from terrorist fathers and older brothers.

At least once a year an unelected governement Ombudsman should deliver a lengthy state of the union address where he (based on his own logic, and inputs from the public) points out the colossal stupidities that the elected officials waste their time on, and the tragedy of the problems they refuse to address.
12:34 February 15, 2012 by BillyB
Nothing to do with bribery, its just pretension.

If they were sent vouchers for sushi i bet they would happily have gobbled it all up
07:18 February 16, 2012 by skogsbo
surely sending a voucher long after they decided to lower tax for EVERY food outlet can hardly be considered a bribe, they clearly have too much spare time. (or are avoiding real issue that need addressing).

Just declare it as a gift, then go get your burger in a SWEDISH chain, driving past the US one, (yeah ok, they are probably franchised to a Swede, but you get my point).
09:12 February 16, 2012 by hejsweden
these have had plenty of my money in the past!!!!
15:22 February 16, 2012 by Baned
@RobinHood Thanks, I needed a laugh!!
19:57 February 17, 2012 by Archie1954
I can't believe anyone in their right mind would consider this a bribe. I have received many coupons for free this and that over the years and not once did I ever think I was being bribed to try out the coupon senders products. How nice to live in a country where something as trivial as this gets to be news.
10:41 February 18, 2012 by luke123
Swedish politicians totally lost their marbles.

An advertising campaign is not bribe.

Police would better investigate how the religious right anti-sex maffia has bought parliament.
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