Public confidence in Swedish authorities plummets after officials’ holidays and Christmas shopping trips

Public confidence in Swedish authorities plummets after officials' holidays and Christmas shopping trips
Civil Contingencies Agency chief Dan Eliasson described his Christmas trip to visit his daughter in the Canary Islands "necessary". Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT
Several ministers and public officials have been seen carrying out shopping trips and international travel against public health advice, prompting a sharp drop in trust levels according to one new poll.

In a poll published by Aftonbladet newspaper on Tuesday, 42 percent of respondents said they had “very little” trust in Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, up 10 percentage points on December.

Only 31 percent had either a “very high” or “fairly high” level of trust, down seven percentage points.

Stockholm made world headlines for its decision to combat the coronavirus with mostly non-coercive measures rather than enforcing the lockdowns seen across Europe.

Authorities have repeatedly urged people to “take responsibility”, but after several reports of officials not heeding their own advice, sections of the public have been left fuming.

Over the holidays, Löfven was twice photographed visiting a watch store in central Stockholm. Up until December 13th, everyone in the capital was urged to “refrain from being in indoor environments such as shops, shopping centres, museums, libraries, swimming pools and gyms”.

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Justice minister Morgan Johansson was also spotted out shopping during the sales between Christmas and the New Year and finance minister Magdalena Andersson was photographed renting skies at a Swedish resort just before Christmas. While not breaking the law, they appeared to be ignoring guidelines to avoid crowds and not to travel.

But the most ire-inspiring case was that of Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) chief Dan Eliasson who travelled to the Canaries to spend Christmas with his daughter, a resident of the islands off north Africa.

Expressen daily said Eliasson flew out a little over a week after the government had recommended people not to travel overseas unless “necessary”.

Eliasson defended the visit telling the paper, “I have refrained from a great deal of trips during this pandemic but this one I thought was necessary”.

That failed to quell the outrage on social media.

“I think it's incredibly provoking and shows a lack of judgement” from Eliasson, Swedish resident Susan Rose told broadcaster SVT. “He travels to see his daughter while we others are urged to stay.”

The government says it has no plans to dismiss him, but home affairs minister Mikael Damberg has called the agency director to a meeting this week.

The Aftonbladet survey also found 62 percent of respondents had “very little” confidence in Eliasson. Only six percent had “very high” or “fairly high” confidence in him.

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