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Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallström to quit government

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Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallström to quit government
Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT
15:20 CEST+02:00
Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallström, a high-profile politician who launched the government's feminist foreign policy, is stepping down.

A statement published by the government said Wallström had informed Prime Minister Stefan Löfven about her decision to quit as minister.

"For five years I have wholeheartedly devoted myself to promoting Sweden's security and prosperity in the world. To face the big challenges of our time, in cooperation with others," said Wallström.
 
"I now want to spend more time with my husband, my children and my grandchildren."
 

An exact date for Wallström's departure has not been set, but she told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper that it would happen in the near future.

Born in Skellefteå in northern Sweden in 1954, Wallström was elected to parliament for the centre-left Social Democrats at the age of 25.


Margot Wallström, then deputy minister of public administration, with then education minister Göran Persson in 1989. She later served as social affairs minister in Persson's government from 1996-1998. Photo: Mats Srand/SvD/TT

The former European Union commissioner has been in charge of a number of different ministerial portfolios on home turf and also served as the first United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict.

But despite being one of the heavyweights in the Social Democrat party, Wallström has consistently refused to take over the top office as prime minister.

She has held the post of foreign minister since 2014, when Löfven appointed her to the position and the government launched a "feminist foreign policy" which has continued to grab headlines around the world.

Wallström has been no stranger to ruffling feathers. She angered Israel by announcing Sweden's recognition of Palestine as one of her first moves as foreign minister, and was later declared persona non grata after calling for investigations into what she termed the Israeli army's "extrajudicial killings" of Palestinians.

Sweden's diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia were also strained when she in 2015 called the country a "dictatorship" and slammed the punishment inflicted on regime-critical blogger Raif Badawi – 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes – as "medieval". 

LISTEN: A Woman's Place – Margot Wallström and the mansplainers


Margot Wallström with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during Yemen peace talks in Sweden. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

But during her tenure, Sweden also chaired the UN Security Council, organized Yemen peace talks in Sweden, and she frequently comes top when Swedes are asked to name their favourite politicians.

"With Wallström as foreign minister, Sweden has received a great deal of respect and appreciation round the world. Our active and successful foreign policy is of course an important part of this," said Prime Minister Löfven in a statement on Friday.

"Margot Wallström is a politician who stands up for what she believes in. (...) In this troubled world, Wallström has always stood up for equality and gender equality, for diplomacy and peace. I think that's an explanation for why she is so well-liked and respected – both in Sweden and globally."

 
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