politics

Four Ministers Quit Over Past Four Years

The effects of last week's resignation by Employment Minister Sven-Otto Littorin are still rocking the Swedish government one week on, with new polls indicating that confidence in the government and Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt has taken a knock.

But Littorin isn't the first minister to go in the midst of a media scandal over the past four years.

Prime Minister Reinfeldt was hit by either bad luck or bad judgement right after the election, with two newly appointed ministers being forced to quit the government.

First to go was trade minister Maria Borelius, who went just a couple of days after being appointed. Newspapers revealed that she had hired babysitters without paying tax, not completely unusual, as she herself said, and apologized.

Things then went from bad to worse, as the newspapers revealed that she hadn't paid her TV licence, and got out of paying tax on her summer residence by registering it on a company in a tax haven. On top of that she hadn't registered sales of shares in company of which she was a board member, and that the finances in her companies had been badly handled. Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt accepted her resignation just eight days after her appointment.

The next scandal was just around the corner, though, and it was once again due to a minister not paying their TV licence. And when that minister is also the culture minister, with responsibility for media issues and public service TV and radio, it was enough for her to get the push. Cecilia Stegö Chilo didn't last much longer than her colleague in the Trade ministry when it was revealed she hadn't paid her tv licence for the past 15 years.

Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said he was sad about her resignation, but understood that Stegö Chilo felt that she now didn't have the possibility to do a good job.

The next minister to go went, not because of some scandal, but in protest against government policy. Defence Minister Mikael Odenberg quit in protest at planned cuts in Sweden's military budget.

After that the biggest scandal involved Fredrik Reinfeldt's closest co-worker, top civil servant Ulrika Schenström, caught out drinking one night together with a tv-reporter, when she should have been on call in case of an emergency. Once the drinks bill was uncovered by the media, and they saw exactly how much had been drunk that night, she had to go.

All of those scandals came and went, but with Sven-Otto Littorin now going underground after the accusations by a tabloid that he bought sex, and with an election just ten weeks away, the question is whether the affair will have a longer lasting effect on the government and its possible re-election.