This is what the stock portfolios of Sweden’s Riksdag MPs look like

The sharp rise in the stock market in recent years has also attracted politicians in the Riksdag, Sweden's parliament.

The Swedish and EU flags fly in front of the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm. 
54 of Sweden's 349 Rksdag MPs had stock holdings large enough to have to declare them. Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP

More and more people are choosing to invest in shares, according to a review conducted by Swedish news agency TT, with typical stock portfolios including gaming companies, Swedish defence group Saab and tobacco company Swedish Match.

Despite the recent fall in prices, those who chose to enter the Stockholm Stock Exchange after the outbreak of the pandemic have been able to enjoy an almost-70-percent increase in the key OMXS index for the Stockholm Stock Exchange.

Last year, the bourse saw a 35 percent rise, the largest annual rise since 2009.

Of the country’s 349 elected members of parliament, more and more have chosen to jump on the bandwagon in recent years. TT’s review shows that on March 1st, 54 of the MPs reported a holding that exceeded SEK 94,600 in an individual company, the limit for declaring shareholdings.

The figure can be compared with 43 in March 2020 and 36 in November 2019 when Swedish financial newspaper Dagens industri compiled a similar report.

Not unproblematic

One of those with the largest holdings, Mattias Bäckström Johansson, of the right-wing populist Sweden Democrats, admits that it may not seem completely unproblematic, but also sees a point in politicians actually owning shares as, according to him, it provides greater knowledge.

“It can be problematic insofar as there may be conflicts of interest, therefore transparency is extremely important and this could be increased further. On the other hand, I am a little surprised that so few members of parliament are shareholders,” he said.

Most of the MPs who have holdings have chosen large Swedish companies, such as Volvo, Investor or Ericsson.

Perhaps more surprising is that tobacco company Swedish Match is represented among seven members.

“I personally like their work on a smoke-free future and that they intend to phase out the last smoking products,” Bäckström Johansson said.

Swedish Match announced in 2021 that it wanted to spin off its cigar business after selling its cigarette business in 1999.

Saab in the portfolio

As well as Bäckström Johansson, a couple of other MPs, Tomas Kronståhl (Swedish Social Democratic Party) and Johan Forssell (Swedish Moderate Party), have chosen to invest in various gaming companies.

Forssell’s portfolio contains Swedish mobile gaming company LeoVegas and American online casino company Rush Street Interactive. He also has a holding in Swedish defence group Saab.

Forssell points out that it’s important to make one’s own assessment in such sectors.

“In a troubled world, democracies must be able to be defended, we see what is happening in Ukraine. I question the description that it would not be sustainable to invest in, for example, Saab. I follow the company as a shareholder and see no problem investing in Saab. In many ways I am a very proud shareholder in the Swedish defence industry.”

Forssell and Oscar Sjöstedt (Sweden Democrats) are the two MPs with the largest portfolios. Forssell has stated that he has 38 holdings which are worth at least SEK 94,600. In addition to Swedish shares he also holds stakes in Apple, Amazon and Alphabet, among others. The smallest possible value of his portfolio is therefore almost SEK 3.6 million.

“For me, it is an obvious question, we have some of the world’s finest companies in Sweden. Being able to save in them means that you get a greater interest in economic policy and what creates growth. I think this makes me a better member of parliament and that more people should do it,” he said.

Out of all the parliamentary parties, the Moderates have the most shareholders (16), followed by the Sweden Democrats (15) and the Social Democrats (9).

The Left Party and the Green Party each have only one MP on the list of those who have reported holdings.

With holdings in Cloetta and H&M, Sweden Democrats’ leader Jimmie Åkesson is the only party leader who has qualified for declaring his stocks.

However, if there were to be a change of power this autumn and Forssell were to be part of a government, he does not promise that he would sell his shares.

“I follow the rules that the Riksdag set up and will of course do so even if we join the government,” he said.

Asked whether he saw any difference in holding stocks if you’re in power, he said: “It is possible there is a greater risk of non-compliance, but then there are ways to handle it and there are people in the government today who have fund portfolios.”


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KEY POINTS: What we know so far about Sweden’s first census in more than 30 years

Sweden's new right-wing government has promised to carry out the first national census in more than 30 years. What do we know about the plans, and when or if it is likely to happen?

KEY POINTS: What we know so far about Sweden's first census in more than 30 years

What has the government so far said about its plans? 

In the Tidö Agreement between the three parties in the government coalition and the far-Right Sweden Democrats, it says that  “work shall be carried out to prepare a large-scale national census”. 

According to the agreement, work would start with an individual (or perhaps agency) being given a “myndighetsöverskridande uppdrag“, a charge which will give them power over several government agencies, to prepare how to carry out such a census. 

The agreement also calls for changes to make it “easier to trace afterward who has been registered in a certain apartment or property in order to prosecute civil registration offences.”

In the regeringsförklaring, the speech made by Sweden’s prime minister Ulf Kristersson laying out the government’s plans the language is stronger. It says that “a census shall be carried out and coordination numbers which are not confirmed will be recalled”.  

Then in the coming budget, the government has set aside nearly 500m kronor for carrying out a budget, with 80m to be spent in 2023, 170m in 2024 and a further 170m in 2025. 

READ ALSO: How does Sweden’s new government want to change migration policy? 

While the language in the Tidö Agreement suggests only that preparatory work need be done during this mandate period, the language in Kristersson’s speech indicates that the actual census will be carried out.

The budget allocations, however, do not look large enough to carry out the sort of full-scale census the parties have promised. 

“The way they spoke about the census [during the campaign], it will require a massive amount of money and and resources. And since they have not allocated those resources in the budget, we are wondering what is happening,” Peder Björk, a Social Democrat MP who sits on the tax committee, told The Local. 

“The 500m kronor indicated for the coming three years,” he said, was “not even close to enough to do the kind of census that they have been talking about”. 

“We are afraid that they will take money that could be used for other important work at the Tax Authority, and use it for the census.”

Björk on December 1st, submitted a parliamentary question to the government asking for clarification about its plans. 

What do we know about how the census will take place? 

Richard Jomshof, the Sweden Democrat chair of the parliament’s Justice Committee, told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper this week that he believed that this census would require an “outreach organisation”, with teams of officials visiting homes around the country to check that those, and only those, registered there are living there. 

In a written statement to DN, Sweden’s Finance Minister Elisabeth Svantesson confirmed that officials would be required to visit some citizens’ homes, with “targeted checks in areas where there is considered to be a significant risk of incorrect registration in the population register”.

In a proposal made in 2020, the Moderate Party suggested that the Swedish Tax Agency should lead the census, with Statistics Sweden, the Police Agency, and local municipalities and regions working under it.  

The census will primarily be carried out digitally, with people encouraged to verify their details online, or, failing that through filling in a physical form. 

According to the 2020 proposal, the relevant authorities would only make home visits to areas where there is a suspected high level of false registration, or to homes where an unusually large number of people are registered, or to homes where the people registered changes very frequently. 

Anyone who is not registered in the census would immediately lose their right to welfare benefits according to the proposal. 

When did Sweden last have a census? 

Sweden has not had a census since 1990, when the country switched from having a questionnaire-based system to having a registry-based system, where each individual has to be registered with the Swedish Tax Agency in order to access government services, health, and welfare. 

Up until 1990, Sweden carried out regular censuses. Between 1965 and 1990, a census and housing register was carried out every five years. From 1955 until 1965, a census was carried out every five years, and from 1930 until 1955,  a census was carried out every ten years.

Why is there such pressure to have a new census? 

Sweden’s population has grown by close to two million people since the last census, from 8.6m in 1990 to 10.4m in 2020. 

While most of those people are represented in the national register, there have been growing concerns about the number of people living in Sweden illegally, some of whom are not registered at all, of people being registered as living at a false address, or of the large number of identity numbers that do not correspond to a real person. 

The Swedish Tax Agency has estimated that as many as 200,000 people are registered as living at the wrong address in Sweden, with criminals accused of registering themselves at the wrong address to avoid the police and debt collection agencies.

What have the parties’ policies been?  

For the Sweden Democrats, this has long been a campaigning issue, with the party claiming that relying on registration means that no one knows for sure who is living in Sweden.

“Sweden has lost control of the situation when it comes to who is living in the country and who is registered,” Sweden Democrat MP David Lang wrote in a 2021 motion to the parliament calling for a census. 

In 2020, the Moderate Party started to campaign for a census and in launching an initiative in the parliament’s tax committee

In April 2022, Sweden’s parliament voted in favour of a Moderate-party led proposal to carry one out. (Ibrahim Baylan, Sweden’s former business minister, voted against Social Democrat party line by mistake, allowing the motion to pass.)

The then Social Democrat-led government refused to act on parliament’s decision, however. 

“The registry-based system,” Ida Karkalainen, the then minister of social affairs, said was “simpler for the population” and allowed “better and more up-to-date statistics”. 

The Social Democrat approach has been instead to take actions to improve the registration system, developing, for example, the proposal passed this week which will require people holding coordination numbers to visit the Tax Agency with some ID to prove their identity. The party has argued that holding a separate census would both be costly and unnecessary. 

Which other countries in Europe have recently carried out censuses? 

Germany carried out a national census this year, with the stated aim being to “determine how many people live in Germany and how they live and work”. 

The UK carried out a census in 2021, with the results published this year.