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Breaking News: Swedish Foreign Minister Resigns over Cartoons

by Norwegian Chef Tue Mar 21st, 2006 at 05:32:58 AM EST

The Mohammed cartoon controversy, the story that will not die, has claimed another leading victim, the Swedish Foreign Minister, Ms Laila Freivalds.

Facing a surging opposition in the six-month run up to the national election and enduring ongoing criticism from the mainstream press for  ordering the closure of a rightwing website that was going to publish the cartoons without due process of law, Ms Freivalds has tendered her resignation, which the Prime Minister has accepted.  

Regardless of one's political leanings, this is going to be one interesting and nail-biting election coming up in Sweden.

The BBC has the following clip:

Sweden FM quits over cartoon row

Laila Freivalds resigned six months before an election
Swedish Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds has resigned in a row related to cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.
She has been strongly criticised in the press after the foreign ministry ordered the website of a far-right party to be shut down.

The site had been due to publish the cartoons, which sparked a furore after their initial publication in Denmark.

She was also criticised over the Swedish response to the Asian tsunami, in which about 500 Swedes died.

Ms Freivalds resigned just six months before an election in Sweden, in which the ruling Social Democrats face a resurgent opposition.

"It was her own decision," Prime Minister Goran Persson said after his foreign minister's announcement.

He has said Deputy Prime Minister Bosse Ringholm will take over as foreign minister temporarily.

Ms Freivalds was rounded on by the press when a far-right website was forced to close on 9 February, after a foreign ministry official contacted the site's hosting company.

Critics said this was an intrusion on the freedom of speech.

The minister said she did not order the official to contact the company, but a later report from the ministry said she was involved in the decision.

Nice to see: act outside the law, resign. Proper order.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 21st, 2006 at 05:36:45 AM EST
Wouldn't it be nice if a certain American President, French President and Italian Prime Minister followed suit--oh sorry that would actually make them responsible people of honour--we couldn't allow that ;-)

I like the silence of a church, before the service begins better than any preaching. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
by Norwegian Chef (hephaestion@surfbirder.com) on Tue Mar 21st, 2006 at 06:17:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In other cartoon news, as today is the International Day for the Elimination of Racism, the UN High Com. for Human Rights has released a poster featuring Lego blocks and the text: "Racism can take many forms." The arabic version:

UN poster

Hm. Isn't linking racism to a symbol of Denmark an ethnic slur in its own right?

Needless to say, Lego isn't exactly thrilled either.

The world's northernmost desert wind.

by Sirocco (sirocco2005ATgmail.com) on Tue Mar 21st, 2006 at 08:54:10 AM EST

The minister said she did not order the official to contact the company, but a later report from the ministry said she was involved in the decision.

So, why do you think she really resigned?

"Our life is shaped by our mind; we become what we think." - BUDDHA

by JulyMorning (july_jdb(at)yahoo(dot)com) on Tue Mar 21st, 2006 at 11:01:47 AM EST
Over at DailyKos

Kraant notes a good article on the resignation from the Local, a Swedish, English language news site that goes into a lot of detail.

Also Needle points out another casualty of the Cartoon crisis can be seen here.

I like the silence of a church, before the service begins better than any preaching. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

by Norwegian Chef (hephaestion@surfbirder.com) on Tue Mar 21st, 2006 at 06:59:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That she resigned now also has to do with the fact that her credibility sank way low during the january hearings of the governments slow reaction in response to the tsunami.

Many swedish citizens were on holiday in south-east asia during christmas 2004. The swedish government was slow in its initial reaction (compared to other european nations) and was severely critizised for it in a report released last november/december. The report and the hearings painted a picture of an hierarchial organisation that responded slowly because everybody was covering their backs and budgets. Though blame initially was placed on lower level staff it became clear that responsibility rested with the foreign minister and the prime minister and their immediate staff. Noone resigned though, and noone was deposed. I saw it this way: most of the blame landed on the prime minister, making any sacrifice but the prime ministers own resignation look cynical and pointless. However a lot of blame has stuck to the foreign minister also.

So now that this comes out, it is not surprising that the foreign minister resigns. As she is now a liability it makes sense not having her around for the elections. It is election in september (and it is going to be a harsh election season) and if the socialdemocrats win, she will no doubt be rewarded for her loyalty.

So you see, it is not just that if you screw up you resign. Wish it were tough.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Mar 21st, 2006 at 11:45:36 AM EST
I wish more politicians knew when they have become a liability and resigned, whether or not they had screwed up. It would save up so much energy for actually getting something accomplished!

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 21st, 2006 at 11:47:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Apparently, politicians in power in Sweden, unlike their colleagues in so many other countries, aren't arrogant and know how to take responsibility. This is one of the reasons why the Swedish model works.
by ccarc on Wed Mar 22nd, 2006 at 04:41:11 PM EST

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