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POLITICS

KEY POINTS: Everything you need to know about Sweden’s new government

Magdalena Andersson is Sweden's new prime minister, and her new cabinet has been announced. But what are her plans for Sweden, and who are the ministers who will help her carry them out?

Andersson's new ministers in her new government
“This government will be working hard - so make sure you take nice pictures now, because you won’t see them looking this lively again,” said Andersson to photographers in parliament. Photo: Sören Andersson/TT

What does Andersson want to achieve with her new government?

In her speech to parliament before announcing her ministers, Andersson mentioned the fight against crime and segregation, “driving the green industrial revolution” and “taking back control of welfare” as her three main priorities.

“Every minister in the government that takes office today will be tasked, within their area of responsibility and with the support of the relevant government agencies, with leaving no stone unturned in bringing an end to gang crime and segregation,” said Andersson.

She also underlined the importance of individuals, stating that “we all need to do our part”, and that “no one individual can break segregation or stop the shootings or the gangs on their own”.

“Everyone can do something,” Andersson said.

“Help out in local sports associations so that there are recreational activities for our children and young people. Stay and talk for a few minutes with someone who needs to improve their Swedish to enter into Swedish society,” she continued.

For a full English translation of her statement of government policy, click here.

Who are the new ministers in Andersson’s cabinet?

Andersson’s new Social Democrat government is a major shake-up, featuring a lot of new faces not seen in the previous cabinet – over a third of her ministers are new.

Changes to the cabinet are Mikael Damberg (previously Minister for Home Affairs) taking over Andersson’s role as Minister for Finance; Karl-Petter Thorwaldsson (previously leader of the Swedish Trade Union LO) who will be taking over as Minister for Business, Industry and Innovation from Ibrahim Baylan, who is retiring from politics after two decades as a top-ranking Social Democrat; and Anna-Caren Sätherberg, who will be the new Minister for Rural Affairs – a role which did not exist in the previous government.

Furthermore, Johan Danielsson, member of the EU parliament, will be taking over as Minister for Housing and Deputy Minister of Employment from outgoing Green Party politician Märta Stenevi – whose official title was “Minister for Gender Equality and Housing, with responsibility for urban development, anti-segregation and anti-discrimination”.

Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Minister of Finance Mikael Damberg with the rest of the new government on their way to meet with the King at the skifteskonselj for the formal transition of power. Photo: Sören Andersson/TT

Additionally, Matilda Ernkrans is leaving her role as Minister for Higher Education and research and joining the Ministry for Foreign Affairs as Minister for International Development Cooperation (taking over from the Green Party’s Per Olsson Fridh). There will be two new additions to the Ministry of Finance: Max Elger (currently political advisor to Magdalena Andersson) who will become Minister for Financial Markets, taking over from the Green Party’s Åsa Lindhagen, and Ida Karkiainen who will be the new Minister for Public Administration, taking over from Social Democrat Lena Micko, who chose to step down after two years in the role.

Anders Ygeman, formerly Minister for Energy and Digital Development under the Ministry of Infrastructure, has been moved to the Ministry of Justice, where he will be working as Minister for Integration and Migration, another new ministerial role – the previous government had a Minister for Justice and Migration, Morgan Johansson, whose new role will be as a combined Minister for Justice and Home Affairs instead.

Finally, Khashayar Farmanbar will be taking over Ygeman’s previous role as Minister for Energy and Digital Development, and Annika Strandhäll will be taking over from Green Party MP Per Bolund as Minister for Environment and Climate.

Two of Andersson’s new ministers have not held poltical roles before.

The first is Lina Axelsson Kihlblom, who will be the new Minister for Schools. Axelsson Kihlblom is known from TV series Rektorerna or “The Headteachers”, where she worked on improving low school results in Ronnaskolan, Södertälje. She is also making history as Sweden’s first out trans woman in a ministerial role.

The second minister brought in from outside of politics is Jeanette Gustafsdotter, the incoming Minister for Culture, who is taking over from the Green Party’s Amanda Lind, whose official title was “Minister for Culture and Democracy, with responsibility for sport”. Gustafsdotter was – until now – general secretary of the Swedish Museums Association.

The other ministers in Andersson’s cabinet remain the same as the last government.

Another particular minister to note in Andersson’s new cabinet is Infrastructure Minister Tomas Eneroth, who is currently being investigated on suspicion of sexual harassment after placing his hand on a woman’s back during the Social Democrats’ party congress earlier in November.

Andersson commented the investigation in a press conference after announcing her cabinet, stating that it was “good that the situation is being investigated,” and that she is “very proud to be leader of a party where members take up issues like this and make sure that they get investigated”.

On the incident in question, Andersson stated that “there is no doubt about what has happened, and in this case Tomas Eneroth has asked the woman for an apology. He has been clear that it was accidental on his part. I see no reason not to believe that,” she continued.

Here is a full run-down of Andersson’s new cabinet:

Prime Minister’s Office

Prime Minister: Magdalena Andersson

Minister for EU Affairs: Hans Dahlgren

Ministry of Employment

Minister for Employment and Equality: Eva Nordmark

Minister for Housing and Deputy Minister of Employment: Johan Danielsson

Ministry of Finance

Minister for Finance: Mikael Damberg

Minister for Financial Markets: Max Elger

Minister for Public Administration: Ida Karkiainen

Ministry of Defence

Minister for Defence: Peter Hultqvist

Ministry of Infrastructure

Minister for Infrastructure: Tomas Eneroth

Minister for Energy and Digital Development: Khashayar Farmanbar

Ministry of Justice

Minister for Justice and Home Affairs: Morgan Johansson

Minister for Integration and Migration: Anders Ygeman

Ministry of Culture

Minister for Culture: Jeanette Gustafsdotter

Ministry of the Environment

Minister for Environment and Climate: Annika Strandhäll

Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation

Minister for Business, Industry and Innovation: Karl-Petter Thorwaldsson

Minister for Rural Affairs: Anna-Caren Sätherberg

Ministry of Health and Social Affairs

Minister for Health and Social Affairs: Lena Hallengren

Minister for Social Security: Ardalan Shekarabi

Ministry of Education and Research

Minister for Education: Anna Ekström

Minister for Schools: Lina Axelsson Kihlblom

Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Minister for Foreign Affairs: Ann Linde

Minister for Foreign Trade and Nordic Affairs: Anna Hallberg

Minister for International Development Cooperation: Matilda Ernkrans

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SWEDEN ELECTS

Sweden Elects: I’ve got election pork coming out my ears this week

The Local's editor Emma Löfgren rounds up this week's key talking points of the Swedish election campaign.

Sweden Elects: I've got election pork coming out my ears this week

There’s an old Swedish Word of the Day in The Local’s archives: valfläsk (literally “election pork”, or pork barrel politics).

This week, there’s been enough of it to feed a Swedish town large enough for both a Biltema and a Dressmann store and still have half the pig left!

You could say it started the week before last, when the Social Democrats’ Immigration Minister Anders Ygeman floated a test balloon loaded with a 50-percent cap on non-Nordic residents in troubled neighbourhoods (it went down among the other parties like it was made out of lead).

Then last week, the Liberals threw their hat in the ring by proposing mandatory language assessments for two-year-olds who don’t attend preschool, and then make preschool mandatory for the toddlers whose Swedish isn’t deemed good enough. This, they said, was meant to help integration in areas where bilingual children don’t speak Swedish at home.

“Studies show that early preschool benefits children whose mothers are low-educated and whose parents are born abroad,” their manifesto read.

Liberal leader Johan Pehrson’s statement that in the most extreme cases – where parents clearly refuse to let their children learn Swedish – led to a social media storm that conjured up images of crying toddlers being taken into care for failing to distinguish between en and ett when quizzed.

For any parents of multilingual children (who know better than most how language works in early childhood – I’m raising a multilingual baby myself, but I’ve only just started so if you have any tips, do let me know!), I should stress that the proposal is less extreme than how it was first presented.

This is typical for valfläsk, by the way. Take something that’s perfectly obvious and hard to argue against (of course mixed neighbourhoods and children being encouraged to learn languages are generally good things) but dial it up a notch, insert something immigration-related, promise to get tough on whatever it is you want to get tough on, and propose either something that already exists or would be near-impossible to implement.

Then the Stockholm branch of the conservative Moderates proposed that entire school classes in vulnerable areas should be screened for ADHD through optional rapid tests, in order to increase the comparably lower rate of medication among foreign-born children and prevent them from falling into a life of crime.

“Detached from reality,” said their Social Democrat rival and pointed out that the partly Moderate-run region was planning to cut the number of psychiatric care clinics for young people.

The Christian Democrats, never ones to be outdone, wanted to chemically castrate sex offenders, give police access to healthcare biobanks, and let police take DNA samples from people stopped in internal border checks.

But while many of the election pledges that get tossed around this close to the election (less than a month to go, now!) tend to range from the radical to the ridiculous and are unlikely to ever be implemented, they’re still worth paying attention to. They give us an indication of the direction the parties want to take, and could well reappear in a more watered-down format later on during the governmental cycle.

They may also become part of post-election negotiations, where even small parties hold key cards as the larger parties fight to cobble together viable government coalitions.

They also say something about Sweden and the direction of the political sphere as a whole, where the parties are currently racing to outdo each other on who can be toughest on immigration and law and order.

The Local’s reporter Becky Waterton has gone through all the parties’ election pledges to see how they specifically would affect foreign residents in Sweden – in case you’ve missed her article, click here to read it.

Also in the world of Swedish politics, a new poll by SVT and Novus has the Moderates and the Sweden Democrats neck and neck, Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson promised lower taxes in his summer speech and Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson tougher sentences on gang criminals in hers, and Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson suggested changing the name of the Swedish Prison and Probation Service (Kriminalvården) to the Penal Office (Straffverket).

Sweden Elects is a new weekly column by Editor Emma Löfgren looking at the big talking points and issues in the Swedish election race. Members of The Local Sweden can sign up to receive the column plus several extra features as a newsletter in their email inbox each week. Just click on this “newsletters” option or visit the menu bar.

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