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Cleaner working illegally in Sweden seized at PM’s home

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson on Saturday night claimed to have been deceived by "a dodgy operator", after a cleaning lady was seized for working illegally during a police visit to her home.

Cleaner working illegally in Sweden seized at PM's home
Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson was announcing new Covid-19 restrictions at the time of the raid. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

“Even those of us who want to do the right thing can fall foul of dodgy operators,” Andersson told the Expressen newspaper on Saturday after it reported on the arrest, which took place just before Christmas after one of the cleaners accidentally set off a security alarm. 

Andersson said that the owner of the cleaning firm had assured her on multiple occasions that all of his employees were working legally under salaries and conditions set by a union collective bargaining agreement. 

“I have now cut all contacts with the cleaning firm. They have on several occasions answered in the affirmative when asked if they had signed up to a collective bargaining agreement with the unions,” she said. “I now expect the responsible agencies to get to the bottom of what happened.”

The opposition Moderate Party, who has named the emerging scandal Städgate or “cleaner-gate”, argued on Saturday that the situation raised serious questions about Andersson’s security arrangements. 

The party’s parliamentary group leader Tobias Billström told Expressen it was “serious and worrying that the country’s prime minister could end up in such a situation”. 

“The main question now is whether this a one-off event or whether there other similar examples,” he said.

There was a real risk, he added, that immigrants without valid documents working for senior politicians could be blackmailed by hostile foreign powers. 

In the UK, he wrote out on Twitter, an immigration minister found to have used an immigrant cleaner who was in the country illegally was forced to resign. 

On December 21st, police came to the house in Nacka, outside Stockholm, where Andersson has lived with her family since 2011, after one of the two cleaning ladies working at the house had accidentally set off an alarm.

They discovered that one of the two cleaners working that day, a 25-year-old woman from Nicaragua, not only lacked both a residency permit and a work permit, but that border police were searching for her so that she could be deported.

“We checked one person and it turned out that person had received a deportation order, after which we handed that person over to the Migration Agency,” Tommy Kalenius, who leads the police in Nacka, told Expressen.

Since taking over as Prime Minister at the start of December, Andersson has moved to Sweden’s official prime minister’s residence at Sagerska huset opposite the Royal Palace in Stockholm, and she had already moved out by the time of the police visit. 

The cleaning woman admitted to police that she had been working illegally after receiving a deportation order in the spring of 2020. The woman was also found guilty of stealing goods from the Åhléns department store in Stockholm in the autumn of 2020, but was not jailed as it was a first offence. 

The head of the cleaning company said that the woman had been supplied by one of the two other cleaning companies to whom he sometimes subcontracts work. He told Expressen that his company had never had a collective bargaining agreement with a union. 

In 2010, the company’s owner was found guilty of sending fake invoices and inventing front companies to lower his tax bill, for which he was fined 600,000 kronor and given a one-year prison sentence.

He managed to win his case at appeal, however, arguing that the suspect invoices were real and had been sent to a woman called “Svetlana”, whose surname he had forgotten.

Andersson has made clamping down on Sweden’s black economy one of the major focuses of her leadership, saying it is up to each individual to check that everyone they buy goods and services from is legitimate. 

In her comment to Expressen, she said that the episode only served to underline her point.

“Like many other Swedes, I am careful to make sure that everything is right and proper when I buy in services,” she wrote.

“But that even those of us who want to do the right thing can fall foul of dodgy operators shows that we need to carry on pushing through even more political measures to fight the various forms of cheating.” 

Member comments

  1. The police did not “raid” the PM’s house. According to multiple Swedish press reports, the house alarm was inadvertently set off when the cleaning lady turned up for her shift at the house. The police then answered the alarm call, found the lady there, and then discovered that she was working illegally. You can hardly say that the police “raided” the house as per The Local’s headline above.

    But the real story behind this story, and which is already starting to make noises on this grey and sleepy Sunday afternoon, is why people like cleaning staff and similar aren’t subject to security clearance by SÄPO before being allowed to work (apparently alone and unsupervised) in the PM’s home. Will be interesting to see what happens.

  2. What this is is a tragedy. The woman was working. This emphasis on “cheating” is all backwards. There should have been a path for her to work legally here instead of having do it in this precarious situation. It’s completely different when the cheating is being done by rich tax evaders.

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2022 SWEDISH ELECTION

What’s the Swedish Christian Democrats’ abortion contract all about?

Ebba Busch, leader of Sweden's Christian Democrats on Monday presented an "abortion contract", which she wants all of Sweden's party leaders to sign. What's going on?

What's the Swedish Christian Democrats' abortion contract all about?

What’s happened? 

Ebba Busch, leader of Sweden’s Christian Democrat party, called a press conference on Monday in which she presented a document that she called “an abortion contract”, which was essentially a pledge to safeguard the right of women in Sweden to have an abortion.  

“There is room for signatures from all eight party leaders,” she said. “I have already signed on behalf of the Christian Democrats.” 

What does the so-called “abortion contract” say? 

The document itself is fairly uncontroversial.

It states simply that Sweden’s law on abortion dates back to 1974, and that it grants women the right to an abortion up until the 18th week of pregnancy, with women seeking abortions later in their pregnancy required to get permission from the National Board of Health and Welfare. 

“Those of us who have signed this document support Sweden’s abortion legislation and promise to defend it if it comes under attack from forces both within our country and from outside,” the document reads.  

Why have the Christian Democrats produced it? 

The decision of the US Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs Wade, and so allow US states to ban abortion has aroused strong feelings in Sweden, as elsewhere, and Busch is seeking to send a strong signal to distance her own Christian party from the US religious right. 

Abortion has been a recurring issue within the Christian Democrats with several politicians and party members critical of abortion. 

Lars Adaktusson, a Christian Democrat MP, was found by the Dagens Nyheter newspaper to have voted against abortion 22 times when he was a member of the European parliament. 

The party has also in the past campaigned for the right of midwives and other medical professionals who are ethically opposed to abortion not to have to take part in the procedure. 

So why aren’t all the other party leaders signing the document? 

Sweden’s governing Social Democrats, and their Green Party allies, dismissed the contract as a political gimmick designed to help the Christian Democrats distance themselves from elements of their own party critical of abortion. 

“It would perhaps be good if Ebba Busch did some homework within her own party to check that there’s 100 percent support for Sweden’s abortion legislation,” Magdalena Andersson, Sweden’s prime minister, said. “That feels like a more important measure than writing contracts between party leaders and trying to solve it that way.”  

In a debate on Swedish television, Green Party leader Märta Stenevi argued that it would be much more significant if Busch’s own MPs and MEPs all signed the document. 

It wasn’t other party leaders who needed to show commitment to abortion legislation, but “her own MPs, MEPs, and not least her proposed government partners in the Sweden Democrats and even some within the Moderate Party”. 

She said it made her “very very worried” to see that the Christian Democrats needed such a contract. “That’s why I see all this more as a clear sign that we need to move forward with protecting the right to abortion in the constitution,” she said. 

How have the other right-wing parties reacted? 

The other right-wing parties have largely backed Busch, although it’s unclear if any other party leaders are willing to actually sign the document. 

Tobias Billström, the Moderates’ group parliamentary leader, retweeted a tweet from Johan Paccamonti, a Stockholm regional politician with the Moderate Party, which criticised the Social Democrats for not signing it, however. 

“It seems to be more important to blow up a pretend conflict than to sign the Christian Democrats’ contract or look at the issue of [including abortion rights in] the constitution, like the Moderates, Liberals and Centre Party want to,” Paccamonti wrote. 

The Liberal Party on Sunday proposed protecting abortion rights in the Swedish constitution, a proposal which has since been backed by the Moderate party and the Centre Party

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