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Politics in Sweden: Sexual abuse allegations, ‘big drama’ and Vikings

Here's the roundup of the week in Swedish politics, in the latest edition of The Local's Politics in Sweden column.

Politics in Sweden: Sexual abuse allegations, 'big drama' and Vikings
Sara Skyttedal during the EU election campaign in 2019. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

The perhaps biggest story in Swedish politics this week is European Parliament member Sara Skyttedal’s accusation that a party colleague sexually abused her nine years ago.

Skyttedal, for those who don’t know, is a high-profile and famously outspoken member of the right-wing Christian Democrat party and the former leader of its youth wing.

She recently reported party colleague Johan Ingerö to the police, a report which was dropped because the statute of limitations had expired on the alleged 2014 incident.

Ingerö is also a high-profile member of the party, a former head of press and policy analyst who was appointed party secretary (the person who is responsible for the day-to-day political work, second in rank only to the party leader) after the 2022 election.

He denies Skyttedal’s allegations. She claims she was woken up in a hotel room in Stockholm by his hand on her thigh, which she tried to remove several times. It was only when she shouted and physically pushed him off that he left her alone, she says.

Ingerö quit his post shortly after the story emerged, but party leader Ebba Busch told media that the reason for his departure was not the sexual abuse allegations.

Instead, she said the party needed someone with “different strengths” as party secretary, as the party makes the transition from a campaigning opposition party to a member of the government.

A separate recent conflict with Ingerö is what prompted Skyttedal to file the police report (according to Ingerö, she did so as revenge; according to Skyttedal, she did so because his aggression when discussing the issue reawakened memories and made her want to stand up for herself).

That conflict was sparked when Skyttedal in an interview with the ETC newspaper revealed that she had smoked cannabis during her time as an MEP to combat depression, in a country where such use is legal (which it isn’t in Sweden).

She then did a long interview with public broadcaster SVT, in which she said that she believed Sweden should decriminalise cannabis – a position that runs directly counter to the official position of the Christian Democrats, which resulted in party leader Busch saying Skyttedal would not be able to represent the party if she kept using cannabis.

A side effect is that cannabis is now top of the agenda in Swedish politics.

Most political parties are vehemently against changing Sweden’s “zero tolerance” approach to legalising cannabis, despite even the Public Health Agency calling for at least an inquiry into the ban. Here’s an article from The Local’s archive which explains the debate – and how likely it is that Sweden will ever legalise cannabis.

Is Sweden heading for another government crisis?

The words “government crisis” became almost synonymous with former Prime Minister Stefan Löfven’s fragile-yet-relatively-long-lasting rule, which created and saw a series of coalition agreements fall while his minority government fended off more no-confidence votes than anyone else in Swedish history.

The Sweden Democrats’ finance spokesperson Oscar Sjöstedt last week hinted that current Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson could face a similar fate if the government and the far-right party do not agree on by how much to lower the so-called “reduction obligation”.

The reduction obligation mandates fuel suppliers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from their fuels. The current reduction obligation means that diesel emissions must be reduced by 30.5 percent and petrol by 7.8 percent. The Sweden Democrats want to cut that to zero.

Sjöstedt vowed that failure to agree would spark “big drama, I can tell you that”.

Why Vikings have sparked political turbulence in a small Swedish town

Speaking of government crises.

The local coalition in Hässleholm in southern Sweden is falling apart, after the council’s Sweden Democrat mayor got embroiled in a conflict involving an elderly care home, the alleged hiring of something close to hitmen and a Viking village.

A Viking association run by local businessman Oddvar Lönnerkrantz is accusing mayor Hanna Nilsson of trying to hire him as muscle to put pressure on a resident who was attempting to block the council’s purchase of a building for an elderly care home.

Lönnercrantz told the news site Frilagt that he understood it as Nilsson suggesting that they threaten or assault the man to get him to drop his appeal against the purchase.

Nilsson on the other hand denies those allegations and instead claims Lönnerkrantz has been trying to blackmail her.

The Moderates and the Christian Democrats have now pulled out of Hässleholm’s coalition government with the Sweden Democrats, calling on Nilsson to resign.

Politics in Sweden is a weekly column by Editor Emma Löfgren looking at the big talking points and issues in Swedish politics. Members of The Local Sweden can sign up to receive an email alert when the column is published. Just click on this “newsletters” option or visit the menu bar.

Member comments

  1. Emma, as a relative newcomer to Sweden I’ve been confused since the election why news media seem to give the governing coalition of parties a pass on whether they are governing “with” the Sweden Democrats. The SD seem not to have such high-profile appointments but they do have appointments (like in this story) and they certainly guide/set policy and provide needed votes. That’s governing together, even if there are technicalities that help the governing coalition avoid admitting that they’re in bed with the Sweden Democrats. Why is this allowed?

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For members


Politics in Sweden: The two main events you shouldn’t miss this summer

The Local gives you the lowdown on the political events to add to your calendar in the summer of 2023.

Politics in Sweden: The two main events you shouldn't miss this summer


Järvaveckan (Järva Week) was founded in 2013 as a tiny film festival with only a few hundred people, but it has grown to one of Sweden’s biggest political events in the last few years.

It now attracts tens of thousands of visitors every year, with representatives from every major party attending. Held at the Spånga sports field in Stockholm’s northern suburbs, it is still young and vibrant enough to feel less elite than its older cousin, the Almedalsveckan (Almedalen Week) festival.

Which politicians are speaking? Liberal leader Johan Pehrson and Social Democrat leader Magdalena Andersson will take the stage on May 31st, followed by the Green Party’s Per Bolund and the Sweden Democrats’ Linda Lindberg on June 1st, the Centre Party’s Muharrem Demirok and the Left Party’s Nooshi Dadgostar on June 2nd, and the Moderates’ Gunnar Strömmer and Christian Democrats’ Jakob Forssmed on June 3rd.

In a sign of how popular this festival has got, the only parties not represented by their party leaders are the Sweden Democrats, Moderates and Christian Democrats. As The Local reported last week, Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson has cancelled his attendance at Almedalsveckan too, choosing instead to take a long summer holiday.

There will also be a bunch of panel talks on everything from tech and talent growth to housing and equality, as well as several cultural events and food trucks.

When: May 31st – June 3rd

Getting here: Take the SL commuter train from Stockholm City to Spånga or the metro from T-centralen to Tensta and walk from there. Alternatively, there are also buses from both Spånga and Tensta to Spånga IP, where the festival is held.

Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson speaking at last year’s Almedalen Week. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT


In the summer of 1968, Olof Palme (then education minister, later prime minister) gave an impromptu speech off the back of a truck on his summer holiday on the island of Gotland. It was the start of Almedalsveckan – Sweden’s main political festival, also known as Almedalen.

More than 40,000 people typically attend Almedalen every year, 95 percent of them coming from outside Gotland, where hotel prices shoot up every summer. But interest in the event has been declining in recent years, with critics dismissing it as a week where the political elite mingle and sip rosé rather than the democratic festival it aims to be.

It used to dedicate one day to every party, with the party leader giving a keynote speech in the evening from the stage in the Almedalen park. Today, the party leaders share the days, with Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson speaking on behalf of his Moderates at 11am on June 28th, followed by the Green Party’s Märta Stenevi at 7pm on the same day.

The Social Democrats’ Magdalena Andersson and Centre Party’s Muharrem Demirok will take the stage on June 29th, the Left Party’s Nooshi Dadgostar and Christian Democrats’ Ebba Busch on June 30th and the Liberals’ Johan Pehrson and Sweden Democrats’ Linda Lindberg on July 1st.

The mood at Almedalen this year may be more sombre than previous years, as visitors mark one year since a far-right extremist killed a prominent Swedish psychiatrist at the 2022 festival. He had also planned to attack then-Centre Party leader Annie Lööf.

Almedalen will be harder than Järvaveckan to pay an unplanned visit to unless you already live on Gotland, as hotels and transport are usually booked up months in advance, but the political speeches are usually televised with commentary from experts.

When: June 27th – July 1st

Getting here: Fly to Visby Airport or take the ferry from Nynäshamn.

Politics in Sweden is a weekly column looking at the big talking points and issues in Swedish politics. Members of The Local Sweden can sign up to receive an email alert when the column is published. Just click on this “newsletters” option or visit the menu bar.