09:53 GMT +318 October 2019
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    Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven attends a news conference at Rosenbad, the Swedish government headquarters, in Stockholm, Sweden July 27, 2017.

    'IT-Gate' Aftermath: Sweden Shakes Up Gov’t Amid Impending No Confidence Vote

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    As a response to a no confidence motion from the opposition, the Swedish red-green government announced a major minister repositioning in order to tone down the aftermath of arguably the worst IT leak in the nation's history.

    In recent days, tempers have been running high in Sweden, as a vote of no confidence to the government was boiling amid demands for ministers directly responsible for the massive IT leak to step down. Facing fierce criticism for ineptness, lack of communication and desire to hush up the leak, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven announced a government reshuffle to pacify his most vocal critics, Swedish national broadcaster SVT reported.

    "I don't want political chaos. I want to take responsibility so that the country doesn't end up in political chaos," Stefan Löfven said at a special press conference earlier in the day.

    Justifying their reasoning for the motion of no confidence, which was supported by 60 percent of the Swedish voters, the Alliance leaders said that Defense Minister Hultqvist, Interior Minister Ygeman and Infrastructure Minister Anna Johansson clearly "neglected their responsibilities" as a transport data leak made top secret databases available to foreign IT workers.

    Löfven, who admittedly has known of the leak since early 2017 and has since been criticized for idleness, announced that Interior Minister Anders Ygeman and Infrastructure Minister Anna Johansson will leave their positions of their own accord. Johansson will be replaced by Tomas Eneroth, while Ygeman's duties as Interior Minister will be handled by Justice Minister Morgan Johansson. Despite the fact that the announcement was indented as reprimand, Löfven unexpectedly proposed that Ygeman should take over as the Social Democrat group leader in Swedish parliament. Additionally, the dismissed ministers have the right to a state-funded "parachute" of 1.6 million SEK each ($200,000), the tabloid newspaper Expressen pointed out.

    Perhaps even more surprisingly, Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist, who was also subject to the no confidence motion, will continue in his position. Löfven dismissed the accusations against Hultqvist as "completely irresponsible." Meanwhile, the tabloid newspaper Aftonbladet reported that Löfven's strategy of keeping Hultqvist aimed at softening the blow, owing to Hultqvist's popularity. Nevertheless, Christian Democrat leader Ebba Busch Thor argued that the opposition would be unwavering, tweeting that confidence in Hultqvist was exhausted.

    "The overall lack of self-criticism during the press-conference shows, however, that the government does not seem to have a grasp of the problem or the seriousness of the situation," Sweden Democrat leader Jimme Åkesson said, as quoted by SVT, urging for Hultqvist's resignation. "The reasonable thing for the government to do was to announce its stepdown," Åkesson added in a tweet.

    Previously, confidential information, including a complete registry of Sweden's drivers and police databases containing criminal records, was made accessible to foreign technicians who had never received security clearance, due to a dubious outsourcing team employed by Sweden's Transport Agency. The extent of damage suffered in one of the largest breaches of government information in decades yet remains to be calculated.

    Löfven's defenders pointed out that the controversial practice of outsourcing started under the previous Alliance government led by Conservative leader Fredrik Reinfeldt.

    Sweden's outsourcing routine been censured by its neighbor countries. However, Roar Thon of the Norwegian Security Authority pointed out that no one is immune against to such meltdowns.

    "We shall not sit on a high horse and pretend similar things never happened in Norway. For instance, there was a case in 2010 when sensitive information was found available to around 35,000 users," Roar Thon told the Norwegian newspaper Klassekampen.

    Meanwhile, Sweden's political turmoil seems to be capable affecting the country's financial market, SEB chief economist Robert Bergqvist told Swedish Radio.

    "I'm afraid we have entered a new political landscape that makes decision-making harder. We can also see a worse-functioning economy," Robert Bergqvist said.

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    Tags:
    IT, cyber security, Anders Ygeman, Morgan Johansson, Stefan Löfven, Peter Hultqvist, Scandinavia, Sweden
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