Sweden gets three new ministers in government reshuffle

Sweden's parliament officially opened on Tuesday with Prime Minister Stefan Löfven announcing three new ministers.

Sweden gets three new ministers in government reshuffle
Stefan Löfven addressing parliament on Tuesday. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

Foreign trade minister and former EU minister Ann Linde will as expected take over as foreign minister after Margot Wallström announced she was leaving the post, Löfven told parliament in his opening speech.

Eva Nordmark, head of Swedish white-collar trade union organization TCO, will become Sweden's new employment minister, replacing Ylva Johansson who is set to become EU commissioner for home affairs.

And Anna Hallberg, former deputy chair of state-owned business investment organization Almi, will replace Linde as trade minister.

Löfven and his new ministers. From left, Anna Hallberg, Ann Linde and Eva Nordmark. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Before announcing the new appointments, Löfven started his speech by vowing to strengthen Sweden's ability to face a changing world and hand over a “sustainable, safe and equal society” to future generations, highlighting global warming, healthcare waiting times and violent crime as some of the challenges.

“Our country – characterized by natural beauty, openness and hardworking people – has enormous opportunities. Only by working together can we realize Sweden's potential,” he told members of parliament.

“We deal with the problems we face together, not each on our own.”

Social Democrat leader Löfven, who returned to government in January this year after a gruelling 131 days of post-election negotiations that ended only after a cross-bloc deal was struck with the centre-liberals, kept returning to the topic of seeking broad consensus across party divides and solving problems together.

READ ALSO: What does Sweden's government deal mean for internationals?

He spoke about Sweden's place in the world and the European Union, underlining his government's commitment to “free, sustainable and fair trade” and saying that Brexit “heightens the need for active and offensive Swedish action in the EU”. He added that he would continue to work to ensure that the UK leaves the EU “in an orderly manner” but said that Sweden was also prepared to face a no-deal Brexit. 

King Carl XVI Gustaf and parliamentary speaker Andreas Norlén arrive in parliament. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

He also addressed the issue of gang crime, singling out a 31-year-old woman who was shot dead in broad daylight in Malmö as a bystander when she was out with her young child – a shooting that shocked Sweden.

“The state can remove hardened criminals from the streets, but stopping the influx of young men to criminal gangs requires efforts by society as a whole. This is emphasized not least by the police. Schools, social services, local businesses and our civic organizations have important roles to play,” said Löfven.

Löfven also spoke of investing more in housing, upgrading the railway, boosting pensions, abolishing the austerity tax and introducing a bank tax to fund defence, creating more jobs and saving the climate.

“Our country will be the world's first fossil-free welfare nation,” he pledged.

Read the full government policy declaration in English here.

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Swedish political parties call for ban on conversion therapy

Multiple political parties in Sweden's parliament want to ban so-called conversion therapy, which aims to change young LGBT+ individuals’ sexual orientation.

Swedish political parties call for ban on conversion therapy

The Liberals have campaigned for a ban for some time, and a motion has now been submitted to parliament by the Social Democrats. Now, the Moderates and the Centre Party are joining them in calling for conversion therapy to be made illegal, Sweden’s public broadcaster Radio Ekot reports.

“The entire idea is that homosexuality is an illness which can and should be treated. That is, obviously, completely incorrect and a very out-of-place view in a modern society,” Centre’s spokesperson on legal issues, Johan Hedin, told the radio.

Conversion therapy consists of subjecting LGBT+ individuals to pressure or force to hide their sexuality or gender identity. According to MUCF, the Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil Society, it occurs “to a not insignificant extent” in Sweden.

“We think there should be a ban. Sweden should be a tolerant country, where nonsense like this quite simply shouldn’t be allowed to happen,” Johan Forssell, the Moderate’s legal spokesperson told Radio Ekot.