Swedish PM shakes up cabinet in key reshuffle

Swedish PM shakes up cabinet in key reshuffle
Ann Linde, Peter Eriksson, Isabella Lövin, Stefan Löfven, Karolina Skog and Ibrahim Baylan. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT
UPDATED: Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has announced a cabinet reshuffle widely interpreted as an attempt to turn a page on weeks of scandals for the centre-left coalition government.

“I'm appointing three new ministers and giving other ministers new portfolios,” Löfven told reporters at a press conference in Stockholm on Wednesday morning.

He was joined at the podium by new ministers Ann Linde, Karolina Skog, Peter Eriksson, as well as newly-appointed Green Party co-leader Isabella Lövin and current Energy Minister Ibrahim Baylan.

“It was a minor change. People had been speculating over whether it would be a big one or a small one. This was a small one. Not quite the most modest he could have made, but almost,” political scientist Stig-Björn Ljunggren told The Local. 

“Other than Ann Linde there were really no names here that were a big surprise. Löfven isn't the kind of guy to make big strategic changes in the middle of the year,” he added. 

The Prime Minister echoed that sentiment in his own analysis of the reshuffle. “Some call it a big one, some call it a small one, I call it a 'lagom' one,” he told public broadcaster SVT after the press conference.

The reshuffle follows a spate of scandals for Löfven's coalition, including the resignation of two government heavyweights. Environment Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Åsa Romson stepped down this month after she was ousted as co-leader of the Green Party.

Her resignation came after her Green Party colleague, Housing Minister Mehmet Kaplan, quit after it emerged in mid-April that he had kept company with Turkish extremists.

Lövin, who took over the reins from Romson, will become new Deputy Minister with special responsibility for climate issues, said Löfven. She will also remain as minister of international development cooperation.

Eriksson, who headed the Green Party 2002-2011, will be Sweden's next housing minister.

“Peter Eriksson is one of the Green Party's most seasoned and experienced politicians, who I know as a cooperative person with his feet on the ground. (…) He is also a northerner,” joked Löfven, who grew up in northern Sweden, demonstrating his regional allegiances.

And the appointment of the veteran politician will be seen as a plus for the government, according to political scientist Ljunggren.

“Eriksson will get attention. Not because he's a surprise, but because he's a charismatic figure. He's both an orator and a doer: he walks the walk and talks the talk. That's a plus for the government.”

Skog, a former Malmö councillor in southern Sweden, is the new environment minister.

Baylan will stay on as energy minister, but will be responsible for co-ordinating cross-departmental policy issues.

Linde, who has previously worked in an adminstrative role within Sweden's interior ministry, will become EU and trade minister.

Löfven also announced that the much-debated cabinet position 'minister of the future', held by Social Democrat Kristina Persson, will be scrapped.

He also said that the creation of an EU and trade minister would mean that Minister for Enterprise and Innovation Mikael Damberg, who has previously been responsible for dealing with export, would be able to focus on his main portfolio.

The sitting labour minister, Ylva Johansson, will keep her portfolio but will also be appointed 'establishment minister', co-ordinating the work of helping immigrants start a life and find work within Swedish society.

Reporting by Emma Löfgren and Lee Roden