In the days before the June 18th vote, a young Moderate Party Riksdag member, 30-year-old Karl Sigfrid, had made up his mind to vote against the bill, according to a report from Svergies Television (SVT).
The measure gives Sweden’s National Defence Radio Establishment (Försvarets Radioanstalt – FRA) expanded powers to monitor cable-bound telecommunications which cross Sweden’s borders.
“Mass surveillance of Swedish citizens is a measure which doesn’t stand in proportion to the problems which Swedish authorities are tasked to solve,” Sigfrid wrote in an email which was later published on the Politikerbloggen website.
Sigfrid’s reluctance angered many of his party colleagues, and prompted a sharp rebuke from Reinfeldt.
“You are the weak link in the Alliance, Karl,” the Prime Minister said to Sigfrid in front of his colleagues during a meeting of the party’s Riksdag members gathered to discuss how the group should vote, according to SVT.
Reinfeldt also likened his younger colleague’s opposition to the law to an assassination attempt.
“Will the shot come from the inside? Is someone going to shoot a Moderate Prime Minister?” he asked.
Several sources who spoke with SVT characterized the tactics used by colleagues to get Sigfrid to vote with the rest of the party as extreme and abusive.
In the end, he abstained from the June 18th vote in which the measure passed 143 to 138, but with a provision allowing for further discussion of the bill in the autumn parliamentary session.
The SVT program which aired on Sunday evening also included a mixed message about the sort of countries with which Sweden would be willing to exchange intelligence information.
While FRA head Ingvar Åkesson claimed that his agency cooperates with “countries which are democratic”, foreign minister Carl Bildt hinted that Sweden would work with dictatorships as well.
“It certainly happens,” Bildt told SVT
“If it comes up, it can certainly happen that we could have reason to exchange information with someone. In such cases it takes place quite strictly.”
Bildt explained that, when he served as prime minister in the early 1990s, FRA helped get him important information related to the departure of Russian troops from the Baltic countries which he then shared with representatives from other countries.