The Swedish cabinet was reshuffled by Prime Minister Stefan Löfven on Thursday, in response to the opposition Alliance parties' no-confidence motion against three government ministers.
Infrastructure Minister Anna Johansson, Interior Minister Anders Ygeman and Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist were said by the Alliance to have “neglected their responsibilities” when a transport data leak made top secret databases available to foreign IT workers.
Johansson and Ygeman were let go, while Hultqvist was allowed to stay on. The no-confidence motion against him is still looming, however, as the Alliance announced on Thursday that it would push ahead as planned.
Hultqvist is a heavyweight in Löfven's government, and is generally perceived as being competent in his role as defence minister. A poll from Swedish broadcaster SVT showed that even a large share of Alliance voters thought Löfven had done the right thing in keeping Hultqvist.
Now the Social Democrats are launching a social media campaign to back the defence minister, with the hashtag #BackaHultqvist.
The Local phoned up the Social Democrats and spoke to campaign manager Ashkan Panahirad.
“A lot of people felt frustrated about what's happened, with the way the Alliance and Sweden Democrats have played this. So we wanted to back the defence minister, and came up with this #BackaHultqivst hashtag, put it out on social media, and it's had a really good response,” Panahirad told The Local.
While the campaign uses different imagery, including a reference to the 1980s “Rör inte min kompis” anti-bullying campaign (the original meaning being “Don't touch my friend”, replaced here with “Don't touch my defence minister”), the perhaps most striking image depicts Hultqvist in a stencilled image clearly inspired by former US president Barack Obama's election poster.
The original Barack Obama 'Hope' poster was designed by artist Shepard Fairey, and was used in the 2008 presidential campaign, and has since become iconic. The Social Democrats' campaign image uses the same stencilling style and colour scheme.
So why did the Social Democrats choose a design so similar to 'Hope'?
“We wanted something that was aesthetically expressive. We wanted it to look good,” Panahirad told The Local.
According to Resumé, the campaign had a dynamic reach of 285,942, 971 shares, 5900 likes, and 348 comments by Friday afternoon.