Arkelsten's tenure saw loss of one-in-five voters
Why did Sofia Arkelsten leave her job as party secretary for the ruling Moderate party? That question continues to be discussed in Sweden one day after the surprise announcement from the prime minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, on Friday. Since she took the post a year and a half ago the Moderate party has lost one fifth of its voters, notes the newspaper Dagens Nyheter.
"The trigger was extensive unhappiness with her within the party," Dagens Nyheter cites an unnamed source.
Swedish Radio politicial correspondent Inger Arenander reports that Arkelsten had become more famous for her mistakes than for any proper policy work.
Arkelsten has incorrectly claimed that the Moderates historically pushed for women's right to vote. She has also been criticised for accepting a trip to a clean technology conference and letting the organisers pay for it.
Her latest gaffe may have been Thursday's debate article in the newspaper Expressen, note several political commentators.
"The question of donations to the parties is an explosive question, and Arkelsten just the other day wrote that the Moderates were pushing for more transparency," notes Swedish Radio's Inger Arenander.
"This in spite of the fact that the Moderates for a long time have been working against more public disclosure of who gives money."
Tumbling support in the opinion polls, with two years to go until the next general election, is cited by several political analysts as the key factor in replacing Arkelsten with county politician Kent Persson.
He began his new job by publishing an opinion piece in the daily Svenska Dagbladet where he said the Moderates "risked going on the defensive" rather than formulating concrete policy proposals.
He further wrote that the government has a good reputation when it comes to the job market, but it had fared less well in building trust in its welfare policies.
Persson also said that keeping the government coalition in tact was a top priority. The Moderates is the biggest party in the self-styled "Alliance" and rule Sweden alongside three once-distinct minority centre-right parties.
When asked yesterday if she had been fired by Reinfeldt, Arkelsten responded only that "Kent Persson is the right man for the job."
Arkelsten, a MP for Stockholm in the national assembly Riksdagen, will continue her work as a parliamentarian.
Dagens Nyheter notes that the post of Foreign Affairs Committee chairperson is now vacant after the appointment of Karin Enström as new defence minister.
Sources tell the newspaper that Arkelsten will not be asked to fill that role.