Borg and Batra climb up list of powerful Swedes

Unlike Samson, Finance Minister Anders Borg seems not to have been deprived of his powers after chopping off that signature ponytail, as he sprinted past the prime minister in an annual ranking of Sweden's most powerful people.

Borg and Batra climb up list of powerful Swedes
Anna Kinberg Batra and Anders Borg of the Moderate Party both landed in the top ten. File photo montage: TT/The Local

While Borg was quick to underscore that ruling the country was a "team effort", Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt had to make do with second place on the list, published on Friday by Fokus Magazine.

Fokus political editor Torbjörn Nilsson explained Borg's rise was related to the fact that all actual power had been moved over to the finance ministry,  

"Number two on the list lets this politician, who's never put his name forward in any internal election, do what he wants. Power in Sweden 2013 belongs to this newly short-haired man," the editors commented in the official list.

Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven maintained his hold on the number three spot, while Riksbank head Stefan Ingves jumped to fourth place, up from the tenth spot last year.

Jimmie Åkesson, head of the anti-immigration, far-right Sweden Democrats climbed to spot number five, up from 19th place in the 2012 ranking.

Anna Kinberg Batra of the Moderate Party also saw her star rise in the Fokus list, jumping from 15th to tenth place, the only other woman in the top ten besides Social Democrat financial policy spokeswoman Magdelena Andersson, who landed in ninth.

Fokus editors underlined that Kinberg Batra is a more likely successor to the leadership of the Moderate Party, and thus the bid for the prime minister post in the future, than Borg. 

With two women on the list, 2013 represented a 100 percent increase in females in the top-ten compared to last year.

READ ALSO: One woman makes Sweden's power top ten

"Power is still a very sensitive topic. Everybody wants it, nobody wants to talk about it," Fokus editor-in-chief Martin Ahlquist wrote in an editorial that underlined two trends in this year's list. That many Sweden Democrats were advancing in the ranking and that the boundary between politicians and businesspeople was becoming increasingly blurred, a trend which The Local has reported on previously

Ahlquist also pointed to the overwhelming whiteness of the list. 

"It is striking to what extent our powerbrokers, regardless of what part of society they represent, are to a large extent light skinned," he wrote. 

The first page of the Fokus spread, stretching all the way down to an oddly sun-burnt pic of former PM Göran Persson at spot 22, features people with Western European backgrounds. 

Exceptions on the list included Social Democrat rising star Ardalan Shekarabi in 68th place and author Jonas Hassen Khemiri at number 95, although there are a number of other people on the list who may have family ancestry outside Sweden such as like Dagens Nyheter (DN) managing editor Peter Wolodarski, whose parents came to Sweden from Poland in the 1960s.

Fokus Magazine's top ten most powerful people

1) Anders Borg, Moderate Party finance minister

2) Fredrik Reinfeldt, Moderate Party leader and prime minister

3) Stefan Löfven, Social Democrat leader

4) Stefan Ingves, head of the Swedish national bank the Riksbank

5) Jimmie Åkesson, Sweden Democrat leader

6) Karl-Petter Thorwaldsson, head of the Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO)

7) Carl Bildt, Moderate Party foreign minister

8) Jan Björklund, Liberal Party (Folkpartiet) leader, education minister, and depute prime minister

9) Magdalena Andersson, Social Democrat shadow finance minister

10) Anna Kinberg Batra, Moderate Party leader in parliament

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Sweden’s right-wing parties agree to bring back Norlén as Speaker 

The four parties backing Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson as prime minister on Sunday announced that they had agreed to keep the current Speaker, Andreas Norlén in place, when the role is put to a vote as parliament opens on Monday.

Sweden's right-wing parties agree to bring back Norlén as Speaker 

The parties won a three-seat majority over the bloc led by the incumbent Social Democrats in Sweden’s general election on September 11th, and are currently in the middle of negotiating how they will form Sweden’s next government. 

Sweden’s parliament meets at 11am for the official installation of the 349 MPs for this mandate period. The votes for the Speaker and three Deputy Speakers are the first item on the agenda, after which the parties each select their parliamentary leaders and then vote on who should chair each of the parliamentary committees. 

READ ALSO: What happens next as parliament reopens? 

In a joint press release announcing the decision, the parties also agreed that the Sweden Democrats would be given eight of the 16 chairmanships the bloc will have of parliamentary committees in the next parliament, and that MPs for all four parties would back Julia Kronlid, the Sweden Democrats’ Second Deputy Leader, as the second deputy Speaker, serving under Norlén. 

In the press release, the parties said that Norlén had over the last four years shown that he has “the necessary personal qualities and qualifications which the role requires”. 

The decision to retain Norlén, who presided over the 134 days of talks and parliamentary votes that led to the January Agreement in 2019, was praised by Social Democrat leader Magdalena Andersson. 

Norlén, she said in a statement, had “managed his responsibilities well over the past four years and been a good representative of Sweden’s Riksdag.” 

The decision to appoint Kronlid was opposed by both the Left Party and the Green Party, who said that she supported tightening abortion legislation, and did not believe in evolution.

The Green Party’s joint leader Märta Stenevi said that her party “did not have confidence in Julia Kronlid”, pointing to an interview she gave in 2014 when she said she did not believe that humans were descended from apes.

The party has proposed its finance spokesperson Janine Alm Ericson as a rival candidate. 

The Left Party said it was planning to vote for the Centre Party’s candidate for the post second deputy Speaker in the hope of blocking Kronlid as a candidate.