Swedish opposition seeks ministers’ ouster over data contract

STOCKHOLM: A brewing political scandal in Sweden intensified on Wednesday when centre-right opposition parties said they would call a no confidence vote in three government ministers, a vote they are likely to win.
It would at the very least wound the minority left-green government and could lead to a new election.
The opposition is seeking to boot out the ministers of infrastructure, defence and the interior — Anna Johansson, Peter Hultqvist and Anders Ygeman, respectively — for their role in outsourcing IT-services for the Swedish Transport Agency in 2015.
The government has said that the contract process — won by IBM Sweden — was speeded up, bypassing some laws and internal procedures in a manner that may have led to people abroad, handling servers with sensitive materials.
Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said on Monday his country and its citizens were exposed to risks by potential leaks as a result of the contract.
IBM Sweden says it never comments on relations with clients.
The centre right opposition Alliance, comprising the Moderate, Centre, Liberal and Christian Democrat parties, called for the vote against the three ministers. The nationalist Sweden Democrats said they too will vote for no confidence, meaning the votes will be there for an opposition win.
“It is obvious the three ministers have neglected their responsibility. They have not taken action to protect Sweden’s safety”, Centre party leader Annie Loof told a news conference.
Parliament is in recess but the opposition parties will submit a request to the speaker, which will then summon legislators for a vote within 10 days.
Losing three of his most important ministers would be a huge blow to Lofven’s government, which has already lost important votes in parliament.
He called a snap election in 2014 after the opposition’s budget bill got more votes than the government’s, although he retracted the snap election after a compromise.
“He has shown he can do the unexpected,” said Jonas Hinnfors, political scientist at Gothenburg University who did not rule out the possibility of snap elections or the government resigning.
“The alternative is to stay on severely wounded, which in itself is very problematic for the government. You must say that this is a crisis for the government and the credibility of the prime minister,” he said.
The government said it had no comment pending a later statement. Sweden is due to have new elections in September 2018. A snap election would not replace the ordinary election, meaning the country could face two elections less than a year apart. — Reuters