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Sweden’s ‘sexiest politicians’ exposed

A gay entrepreneur and an outspoken woman whose Iraqi politician father was once imprisoned in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison have been revealed as Sweden's sexiest politicians of 2012 in a new ranking published on Friday.

Sweden's 'sexiest politicians' exposed

Moderate Party education policy spokesperson Tomas Tobé and Centre Party MP Abir al-Sahlani topped the sexiest politician ranking, compiled annually by Swedish news website Nyheter24.

“I was initially surprised but when they explained more I was very happy,” al-Sahlani told The Local after being chosen as Sweden’s sexiest female politician.

“It feels great. Fortunately, it pays to be outspoken.”

Click here for the gallery of the top five sexiest FEMALE politicians

Al-Sahlani, 36, entered the Riksdag in September 2011 to fill the parliamentary seat left vacant by outgoing environment minister Andres Carlgren.

Currently a resident of the south Stockholm suburb of Hägersten, al-Sahlani was born in Iraq and launched her career in politics in Härnosand in northern Sweden as the youngest representative on the governing board of the local Centre Party chapter.

Her father, Abid Faisal al-Sahlani, headed the National Democratic Coalition, a political party in Iraq, and once helped broker a meeting between his daughter and Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki.

According to Nyheter24, al-Sahlani is sexy because she “time after time has shown that she stands for what she believes in”.

Sweden’s newly crowned sexiest male politician Tobé, meanwhile, was chosen because he “among the best of all politicians at breaking into a smile”.

Click here for the gallery of the top five sexiest MALE politicians

After being active in the Moderate Party’s youth wing MUF, the 34-year-old native of Gävle in eastern Sweden launched his professional career by starting a communications agency.

In 2006, Tobé returned to politics, entering the Riksdag as an MP when the Moderates took power. He focused at first on employment and business issues before becoming the party’s education policy spokesperson in March 2012.

Tobé and al-Sahlani top Nyheter24’s annual list of Sweden’s ten sexiest male and female politicians, presented to coincide with the Almedalen political gathering held on the Baltic island of Gotland.

To qualify for consideration for the list, chosen by the editorial staff at Nyheter24, politicians must be ministers, MPs, party secretaries, or chair or vice-chair of their party’s youth organizations.

According to Nyheter24, they can be “hetero, gay, trans, tall, or short” but must “offer something more than being a stiff politician”.

Nyheter 24’s acting news editor, Henrik Eriksson, explained the deciding factor is the personality of the politicians and not their good looks.

“It’s about being yourself and doing things in a different way,” Eriksson told The Local.

He explained that reactions amongst the winning politicians varied, but most of them are really happy to have made the list.

“When they realize this is not about good looks, many of them think it’s a blast. Some have got many congratulations and even texted me to say thanks,” Eriksson said.

But when the politicians were asked who they think are the most sexy politician, a lot of them were reluctant to mention a name.

“A lot of them chickened out,” said Eriksson.

However, last year’s sexiest female politician, Christian Democrat Caroline Szyber, didn’t hesitate to express her happiness at making the list again this year, despite having dropped two places to third place.

“It’s really fun to have been nominated the third sexiest politician by Nyheter24 and the second most good looking woman in Almedalen by Expressen,” she told The Local.

“But as a politician I also of course hope to be judged by the good work that I do and not just by my looks. I understand that one of the criteria for the competition was personality so I’m very pleased that they’ve judged me on my character and political work, too. Or at least I hope so!”

Szyber also downplayed potential jealousies from other female colleagues.

“Some of them might be a bit jealous but most of them just think it’s fun that I’ve made it onto the lists,” she said.

Meanwhile, the fourth sexiest male politician, Mathias Sundin, joked about his inclusion on the list.

“It’s about time!” he told The Local via Twitter.

Erik Bloom and Salomon Rogberg

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2022 SWEDISH ELECTION

What’s the Swedish Christian Democrats’ abortion contract all about?

Ebba Busch, leader of Sweden's Christian Democrats on Monday presented an "abortion contract", which she wants all of Sweden's party leaders to sign. What's going on?

What's the Swedish Christian Democrats' abortion contract all about?

What’s happened? 

Ebba Busch, leader of Sweden’s Christian Democrat party, called a press conference on Monday in which she presented a document that she called “an abortion contract”, which was essentially a pledge to safeguard the right of women in Sweden to have an abortion.  

“There is room for signatures from all eight party leaders,” she said. “I have already signed on behalf of the Christian Democrats.” 

What does the so-called “abortion contract” say? 

The document itself is fairly uncontroversial.

It states simply that Sweden’s law on abortion dates back to 1974, and that it grants women the right to an abortion up until the 18th week of pregnancy, with women seeking abortions later in their pregnancy required to get permission from the National Board of Health and Welfare. 

“Those of us who have signed this document support Sweden’s abortion legislation and promise to defend it if it comes under attack from forces both within our country and from outside,” the document reads.  

Why have the Christian Democrats produced it? 

The decision of the US Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs Wade, and so allow US states to ban abortion has aroused strong feelings in Sweden, as elsewhere, and Busch is seeking to send a strong signal to distance her own Christian party from the US religious right. 

Abortion has been a recurring issue within the Christian Democrats with several politicians and party members critical of abortion. 

Lars Adaktusson, a Christian Democrat MP, was found by the Dagens Nyheter newspaper to have voted against abortion 22 times when he was a member of the European parliament. 

The party has also in the past campaigned for the right of midwives and other medical professionals who are ethically opposed to abortion not to have to take part in the procedure. 

So why aren’t all the other party leaders signing the document? 

Sweden’s governing Social Democrats, and their Green Party allies, dismissed the contract as a political gimmick designed to help the Christian Democrats distance themselves from elements of their own party critical of abortion. 

“It would perhaps be good if Ebba Busch did some homework within her own party to check that there’s 100 percent support for Sweden’s abortion legislation,” Magdalena Andersson, Sweden’s prime minister, said. “That feels like a more important measure than writing contracts between party leaders and trying to solve it that way.”  

In a debate on Swedish television, Green Party leader Märta Stenevi argued that it would be much more significant if Busch’s own MPs and MEPs all signed the document. 

It wasn’t other party leaders who needed to show commitment to abortion legislation, but “her own MPs, MEPs, and not least her proposed government partners in the Sweden Democrats and even some within the Moderate Party”. 

She said it made her “very very worried” to see that the Christian Democrats needed such a contract. “That’s why I see all this more as a clear sign that we need to move forward with protecting the right to abortion in the constitution,” she said. 

How have the other right-wing parties reacted? 

The other right-wing parties have largely backed Busch, although it’s unclear if any other party leaders are willing to actually sign the document. 

Tobias Billström, the Moderates’ group parliamentary leader, retweeted a tweet from Johan Paccamonti, a Stockholm regional politician with the Moderate Party, which criticised the Social Democrats for not signing it, however. 

“It seems to be more important to blow up a pretend conflict than to sign the Christian Democrats’ contract or look at the issue of [including abortion rights in] the constitution, like the Moderates, Liberals and Centre Party want to,” Paccamonti wrote. 

The Liberal Party on Sunday proposed protecting abortion rights in the Swedish constitution, a proposal which has since been backed by the Moderate party and the Centre Party

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