Formation of government
If we start with the formation of the government, the parliament elected (as expected) Fredrik Reinfeldt prime minister. He then presented (or proposed? I am not really clear on the obscure details) his cabinet to the parliament. It was all a done deal as it had been settled among the party leaders in the right bloc. The cabinet, reflecting their strengths in parliament, consists of 11 from Moderaterna (including the prime minister), 4 from Folkpartiet, 4 from Centerpartiet and 3 from Kristdemokraterna.
With some exceptions, the parties has split cabinet among thematical lines, giving Folkpartiet education, Centerpartiet labour market, Kristdemokraterna Social security and Moderaterna the rest: Finance, Culture and Foreign affairs.
Trying to prevent scandals, when the cabinet was presented trade minister Borelius and minister of culture Stigö Chìlo, came clean with having employed nannies without paying taxes in the 90ies. When asked why Borelius answered that she could not have afforded it had she payed taxes, reflecting the party line.
That was a mistake, tax records are public in Sweden.
The stuff scandals are made of
For our anglosaxon readers I should here pause to point out that in Sweden a politicians sexlifes are not a political liability (as long as everybody is of age and consenting). Nobody cares who sleeps with whom. Money on the other hand, well that is the stuff scandals are made of.
And of course their is a standard way of getting embroiled in a scandal. Lie about something that can easily be proven. The media does not like being lied to, and dramaturigally this is the easist case. Just show the lie and the thruth. It does not really have to be that big a deal to begin with. The fact that it was lied about shows that the politician was ashamed of his or her acts.
Now, back to the scandals
Soon it became clear that Borelius and her husband had in average during the 90ies as a couple earned more then 1,6 million kronor/year (just below/over 200 000 euros/dollars per year) making the comment of not being able to afford taxes a lie or a statement of very privileged priorities. The last days it has also come to the medias attention that Borelius and her husband owns a number of houses through a company in Jersey. As this is a sign of tax minimisation or tax fraud, the media attention has not looked like it will stop. So she resigned yesterday.
Paying the tv license
The next scandal that unfolded regarded minister of culture Stigö Chìlo. Not because she paid her nanny under the table. Since she was not caught lying about that the media focused on Borelius on that issue. She was however caught with not paying her tv-license for 16 years.
Now the tv-license is not huge if you have a decent or good income (about 150 euros/year) and since their is no real punishment for evading it (other then eventually paying it) it has a certain moral aspect in the public discourse. She was not the only one among Moderaterna in the new cabinet that had not payed her tv-license, but she was singled out as the minster of culture has public service on her table. And now comes the twist: When confronted she claimed that she missed it as she has been moving in and out of the country. Can be checked, was checked.
Stigö Chìlo had indeed lived two years abroad during the last sixteen. And maybe she would have gotten away with it had she not within the last year bragged about not paying the license and procalimed that she gladly would face a trial for refusing to pay. Lied, got caught = media pressure. Her fate is still unknown, but the traditional mechanism of ousting ministers are already in play. Papers has called the district leaders of Moderaterna asking them for their take on the matter, and the mayority thought she should resign. That is usually it, though she can still weather it if Reinfeldt is willing to take the heat and get the district leaders in line.
Ruling from the center with inexperienced neoliberal ministers
One thing that stands out is that the ministers caught in these scandals are young and politically inexperienced. They tried thinking on their feet and fell. It is telling something about Moderaterna as a party that many of the new cabinet ministers lack experience, with the notable exceptions of minister of foreign affairs Carl Bildt and minister of justice Beatrice Ask. But I will come back to that.
There is also another thing here, something that might be more important. If the new government had come to power on a platform of system-change the ministers could have taken Starvids line:
TV license? Come on. I sure as hell don't pay mine
After all that is probably how they feel about it. But they did not take that line as they did not have the mandate.
Instead they came to power on Reinfeldts strategy of rebranding Moderaterna as "The new workers party" promising a better welfare state and more competent rulers. So the young neoliberal ministers had the hard task of playing better socialdemocratic ministers.
So why chose the young neoliberals in the first place? They consider tax as a form of theft and of course they were bound to show it. My take is: because this is were Reinfeldt has his base in the party and he is taking his boys and girls with him.
It will be interesting to see who Reinfeldt choses to replace Borelius and Stigö Chìlo should she resign. Even more inexperienced young neoliberals or more experienced politicians with their own powerbases? Or even bringing back som of the ministers from the 91-94 Bildt government with all that would entail for Reinfeldts position with Bildt already in the cabinet.
Reinfeldt won the election with a strategy that counteracted his after-election strategy, especially when it comes to transfering his powerbase from the party to the cabinet.
The election analyses and future plans of Piratpartiet will have too wait for another day.