election 2010

Reinfeldt's New Expanded Cabinet

Four ministers had to resign, seven new ministers came in, when Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt announced his new, expanded, cabinet on Tuesday. By increasing the number of ministers, Reinfeldt could reward his own conservative Moderate Party for doing well in the elections - without cutting a government post from the three smaller alliance parties. The Centre Party, the Liberals and the Christian Democrats all suffered election setbacks.

At a press conference after his speech at the opening of the parliament, the prime minister defended such a large government in a small country like Sweden as the product of compromises and negations within his center-right alliance.

Focusing mostly on the economy, Reinfeldt insists Sweden has done relatively well despite the global economic crisis and was spared from making the giant budget slashes forced on many other European nations, and is keeping Anders Borg as the strong-handed finance minister and is promising more sales of state-owned companies in the future.

Sharply criticised for failing to integrate immigrants and refugees into Swedish society, the post of integration minister is now incorporated into the ministries for the labour market and education - emphasising the foreign-born's needs for jobs and schooling.

A new minister replaces the highly-criticised minister for social welfare insurance - after changes in the social welfare system left some people without protection and forced even seriously ill people to look for work or lose their benefits.

Aiming a blow at the anti-immigrant and anti-refugee Sweden Democrats now in parliament for the first time, the prime minister praised the strong contribution from immigrants in Sweden, underlined Sweden's duty to accept persecuted refugees and to treat everyone in Sweden despite their backgrounds with equal respect.

The head of the Christian Democrats, Göran Hägglund, remains as social affairs minister, and Liberal party's Jan Björklund remains education minister with the added duty as deputy prime minister since his party outscored the Center Party.

Center leader Maud Olofsson remains as minister of enterprise, – with the task of fulfilling what the government insists is its main goal - creating more jobs. But although she is to give more emphasis on energy during the next four years, she and her party colleagues in a minority government face a strong opposition against retaining nuclear energy in Sweden.

Defence Minister Sten Tolgfors remains in his post - in an area which no doubt will be one of the mine fields for the new center-right government's wobbly minority position - since the four ruling parties don't want to set a date for the removing of the 500 Swedish troops in Afghanistan - while the opposition Social Democrats, the Greens and the Left Party want this to start happening already next year - and since the Sweden Democrats are also against Swedish troops in Afghanistan, this leaves the minority government in a weakened position.

Otherwise, Sweden's foreign policy is to remain pretty much the same, with Foreign Minister Carl Bildt , development assistance minister Gunilla Carlsson and foreign trade minister Eva Björling all from the prime minister's party and all remaining in their posts - and popular European Union minister Brigitta Ohlsson of the Liberal Party also remains at her job.

Also keeping her position is the conservative moderate minister of culture - despite sharp criticism from many Swedish cultural workers that she is more interested in saving costs for culture than of spreading it.