IN PICS: Why do Swedish politicians love to pose with sausages?

Christian Democrat leader Ebba Busch hit headlines this week after posing with a falukorv in a radio interview. However, what may have seemed like an odd publicity stunt is actually part of a long tradition of Swedish politicians posing with sausages.

IN PICS: Why do Swedish politicians love to pose with sausages?
Christian Democrat leader Ebba Busch brandishes a falukorv in a radio interview while Sweden Democrat Leader Jimmie Åkesson takes a photo. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Sweden’s last three Prime Ministers have all had a connection with korv (sausages) during their leadership.

We can start with Moderate prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, who was in power from 2006-2014.

Fredrik Reinfeldt is given a bunch of flowers and a hotdog after holding a speech in 2011. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/Scanpix/TT

In 2010 Reinfeldt’s love for falukorv became public knowledge after he described falukorv as his favourite ingredient in an interview with Dagens Nyheter. His love for korv then became somewhat of a running joke, leading to him being presented with hotdogs after speeches, and even as a parting gift from Centre party leader Annie Lööf in his final parliamentary speech in 2014.

Annie Lööf prepares to hand a falukorv over to Fredrik Reinfeldt following his final speech in parliament in 2014. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT
These sausage-based moments eventually became such a defining element in his career, that Reinfeld was invited on to TV show Historieäterna in 2016 to treat presenters Erik Haag and Lotta Lundgren to his mother’s sausage stew, insisting that he was “being completely serious when I say I have been eating this throughout my whole life.”

Stefan Löfven buys a sausage in Norrköping on an EU election tour. Photo: Peter Wallberg/TT
The sausage fest only became more intense in 2018, when Social Democrat prime minister Stefan Löfven launched an election video featuring a hotdog stand.
At the beginning of the video, the man in the hotdog stand asks “what do you want?” to which Löfven gives a list of policies such as “a society where security goes ahead of tax cuts”, “everyone who has worked a whole career can have a pension that they can live on”, finally ending with “and I also want a sausage with bread”.
Löfven was also the happy recipient of a korv-related departing gift when he took part in his final parliamentary speech in 2021 – this time a “very spicy sausage” called ‘Die Hard 6.0’ from Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson, along with a book titled Den svenska korvresan or “The Swedish sausage journey”.

Jimmie Åkesson hands over a sausage to Stefan Löfven following the latter’s final speech in parliament. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT
“There aren’t a lot of areas where Stefan Löfven and I are united, politically,” Åkesson said, when he handed over the gift “but sausages are one area where we’re in agreement.”

“This should in no way be seen as a threat or a wish for something bad to happen to him,” Åkesson added.

Löfven appeared to see it differently, though, stating to journalists afterwards “if this sausage is too strong for Åkesson then I better bloody well eat it!”

Despite Magdalena Andersson’s short nine-month tenure as Prime Minister so far, she has also had time to pose with a korv, uploading an image to her Instagram account back in June with the caption “as Prime Minister, there are a lot of state lunches. It’s very nice. On Monday I will welcome Nato’s General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg.”

“But grilling sausages with the family is unbeatable. Hope you have a good Saturday!”

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Magdalena Andersson (@magdalenanderssons)

 But what about the current party leaders of other parties?

Jimmie Åkesson, who we’ve already established is a fan of stark korv, held his very own korvturné or “sausage tour” last year, travelling from Örnsköldsvik in the north of Sweden to Åkesson’s hometown of Sölvesborg in the south.

On the tour, he served up the same sausage he gave to Löfven in a departing gift, encouraging Swedes to discuss politics with him and “strengthen democracy and our culture” by not being afraid to say how they really feel.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Jimmie Åkesson™ (@akesson.jimmie)

Ebba Busch, on the other hand, has posed with a korv on multiple occasions during this election campaign, brandishing her falukorv on the 2nd, 3rd and 6th September at various speeches (we hope it wasn’t the same korv).

Ebba Busch with her falukorv. Photo: Tim Aro/TT
The Liberals’ Johan Pehrson is perhaps the most korv-loving party leader, sharing images and videos of himself on Instagram eating and grilling sausages, and even treating Moderate party leader Ulf Kristersson to a hotdog in return for a bag of McDonalds chicken nuggets.
View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Ulf Kristersson (@kristerssonulf)

 Nooshi Dadgostar from the Left Party has also posed with sausages in the last few weeks, uploading a picture to her official Instagram account in August handing out hotdogs at Pride in Stockholm.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Nooshi Dadgostar (@nooshidadgostar)

 But what about the Green Party? Have leaders Märta Stenevi and Per Bolund been seen posing with hotdogs? After extensive research, we couldn’t find any hotdog-related photos with either of them – vegetarian hotdog or otherwise.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Miljöpartiet de gröna (@miljopartiet)

 We did, however, find this Instagram post of Stenevi and Bolund sharing a fika with a cinnamon bun and a coffee in a Swedish forest – also an extremely stereotypical Swedish food.

But why do Swedish politicians love posing with sausages (and cinnamon buns)?
These foods are seen as quintessentially Swedish, folkligt, literally “of the people”. Every Swedish child has at one point or another eaten falukorv med makaroner (falukorv with macaroni), or korv stroganoff (sausage stroganoff). Hotdogs are available on every corner of a Swedish city, be it at a Pressbyrån, a 7/11 or a korvmoj, a hotdog stand.
The favourite pastime of many Swedes – rain or shine, summer or winter – is grilling outdoors, from the simple korv to more elaborate pieces of meat. When Ebba Busch started waving around a falukorv in an interview, she wasn’t just making a point about food prices going up, she was using falukorv to get to the core of Swedishness, going back to her summer speech where she proclaimed that it has become “too expensive to be Swedish”.
Because if you take away a Swede’s access to korv, what have they got left?

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


Why is Sweden’s parliamentary speaker election so important?

Sweden's parliamentary speaker is second only to the King in terms of formal rank. The prospect of a Sweden Democrat speaker taking over the role from popular Moderate Andreas Norlén has sparked debate. Here's why.

Why is Sweden's parliamentary speaker election so important?

On Monday, Sweden’s newly-elected parliament will elect a new speaker – talman in Swedish, but it’s still not clear who is likely to take over the post from Moderate Andreas Norlén, who has held the position since 2018.

How is a speaker candidate usually chosen?

There is no formal rule on how a speaker candidate is nominated, with the Social Democrats usually insisting the largest party supplies the speaker, and the Moderates arguing that the largest party in their bloc should provide the speaker.

Until now, that has meant that the Social Democrats believe the speaker should be a Social Democrat, and the Moderates believe the speaker should be a Moderate.

However, with the Sweden Democrats now the second-largest party in Sweden’s parliament, they have made claims on the speaker post, as they are now the largest party in their bloc, meaning under the Moderates’ rules, they should supply the speaker.

This has made the question of who should take over as the new speaker unusually charged.

Often – but not always, the speaker has been from the same party or bloc as the government. However, there are examples, such as in the case of Norlén, who has held the post despite there being a Social Democrat government for the last eight years, as there was a majority supporting him in parliament.

Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson sits down for a talk with Andreas Norlén, speaker of the Swedish parliament. Photo: Anders Wiklund / TT

How is the speaker elected?

The first time parliament meets after an election, members of parliament (MPs) decide which MP will become the parliamentary speaker and which three MPs will become the deputy speakers. These four speakers are elected in separate ballots, first the speaker, then the first deputy speaker, the second deputy speaker and the third deputy speaker.

The candidates are nominated by parliamentary party groups, after which a secret ballot is held where each MP votes anonymously. To be successful, a speaker candidate must secure a majority of votes – 175.

If no candidate secures a majority, another vote is held, where a candidate must still gain 175 or more votes to win.

If no candidate is successful, a third vote is held, where the candidate with the most votes is elected – they do not need a majority.

If the third vote ends in a tie between two candidates, lots are drawn to determine which candidate is elected speaker.

A speaker is elected for an entire election period – they cannot be removed by parliament during this period, and the role can only change hands after a new parliamentary election, which usually means that a speaker sits for four years at a time.

What does the speaker do?

The speaker – aside from being the second-highest ranking official in the country after the King – holds a prestigious position.

They do not have political influence and, if elected, must resign from their role as a member of parliament. But they have an important role to play in building a government, nominating Sweden’s new prime minister after an election and dismissing the prime minister if they lose a no-confidence vote.

Although there are checks on these powers – a new prime minister must be approved by parliament before they take power – a speaker could, theoretically, nominate four prime ministerial candidates to parliament in succession, knowing that each would lose a parliamentary vote, and thereby trigger a general election.

The speaker, currently Andreas Norlén (left) regularly welcomes foreign dignitaries alongside Sweden’s King Carl Gustaf. Here seen with King Carl Gustaf (left) and Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö (centre).
Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

The speaker could also theoretically refuse to nominate a prime ministerial candidate despite them being the leader of the largest bloc, although this has never happened in practice.

It is also impossible for parliament to remove a speaker once they are elected, unless a new parliamentary election is held and an entire new parliament is elected, meaning that if a speaker were to misuse their powers, it would be difficult for parliament to replace them.

The speaker is the main representative of parliament, leading and planning parliamentary activities. The speaker is chairman of meetings in the parliamentary chamber and is an official representative for Sweden at home and abroad.

Why would it be controversial if the Sweden Democrats supplied the speaker?

Electing a Sweden Democrat speaker would be a win for the far-right party, as a confirmation that the party has finally been accepted into the corridors of power.

According to a source at newspaper Aftonbladet, the four parties backing Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson to become Sweden’s next prime minister have already agreed on stricter migration and crime policies, as well as who should be voted in as speaker of the country’s parliament when the role goes up for a vote on Monday. 

Multiple parties in the left-wing bloc have objected to a Sweden Democrat supplying the speaker, with outgoing Social Democrat Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson stating that her party is willing to collaborate with the Moderates and reelect Andreas Norlén as Sweden’s speaker instead in order to avoid a Sweden Democrat taking on the role.

Andersson said her party would be willing to “make an exception” to its principle. “We think there are arguments at this time, to have a speaker who can be appointed with very broad support in the parliament. What’s important is that it’s someone who can bring people together, either a Social Democrat or a Moderate”.

“I can state that Andreas Norlén enjoys great respect, both in the parliament, and among the Swedish people,” she said. “He has handled his duties creditably and during a turbulent time, and a problematic parliamentary situation.”

She said she was offering to discuss the issue with Kristersson to avoid the risk of a Sweden Democrat speaker, something she said would be “problematic”.

“This is a party whose whole rationale is to split rather than unite. This is also about the picture of Sweden overseas.”

Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson has not responded to Andersson’s comments.

Sweden Democrat former deputy speaker Björn Söder (left) and party leader Jimmie Åkesson (right). Photo: Jessica Gow//TT

There are also some MPs in the Liberal Party – who have agreed to support a Moderate-led government alongside the Sweden Democrats – who have stated they will not approve a government with Sweden Democrat ministers, and may also vote against letting them have the role of speaker.

Sweden Democrat Björn Söder, who held the role of deputy speaker between 2014-18, is a possible candidate for the far-right party. Söder is a controversial figure, having previously stated that Jewish people and Sami are “not Swedes”, leading to calls that he is not suitable for a role as a representative for all of Sweden.

Söder has also previously likened homosexuality to pedophilia and bestiality, stating in an article on the Sweden Democrats’ official online news site that “these sexual aversions are not normal and will never be normal”.

A public petition against electing Björn Söder as parliament’s new speaker had over 65,000 signatures as of September 23rd.