Opposition parties launch no-confidence vote against three ministers

3:32 min

Sweden's opposition party leaders have announced a no-confidence motion against the three ministers that they argue should be held responsible for the IT scandal roiling the government.

The leaders of the Moderate, Centre, Christian Democrat, and Liberal Parties said at a press conference held on Wednesday morning that they would ask the speaker of parliament to recall MPs from their summer break to hold the vote. 

"Several ministers have failed to properly manage the areas for which they are responsible," Centre leader Annie Lööf told news agency TT. "They should see the consequences here and now." 

The no-confidence motion will be launched against Infrastructure Minister Anna Johansson, Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist, and Interior Minister Anders Ygeman. 

The move brings to a head an IT scandal which has been brewing in Sweden throughout the summer. 

The scandal started when the former Director General of the Transport Agency ignored Sweden's security laws when she contracted out management of a set of databases to the international IT company IBM, even though Sweden's security services Säpo advised her not to do so.

According to Säpo, this meant that people based overseas who had not received the proper security clearance were given access to classified information including millions of Swedish driver's license photos and details about Sweden's roads, bridges, and metro systems. 

At the press conference, Moderate leader Anna Kinberg Batra said that the vote would mean MPs called back to an emergency session of parliament. 

"The next thing to happen is that we are going to request that the speaker call in the chamber to execute our motion of no confidence against these three," she said.  

To launch a motion of no confidence against a minister in Sweden, the proposal must be backed by at least 35 MPs. For the motion to succeed, it needs the backing of at least 175 of the 349 MPs in parliament. Given the Alliance bloc has just 140 MPs, it will need the votes of most of the 47 MPs representing the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats to pass.

Annie Lööf said she felt it was appropriate to target Minister Johansson, even though she has maintained that she was never informed of the scandal. 

"Anna Johansson is responsible for the Transport Agency. Despite this she has had no control over the way they run their affairs, where they have actively broken the law and exposed Sweden and Swedish people to security risks," she said at the press conference. "We, in the Alliance, think that this type of failure to take responsibility provides a strong case for no-confidence."

The no-confidence motion follows a meeting yesterday evening between Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and the leaders of all seven other parliamentary parties.