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    Sweden's Prime minister Stefan Lofven attends a press conference at Rosenbad, the Swedish government headquarters, in Stockholm on July 27, 2017

    Snowballing IT Leak Provokes No Confidence Vote in Sweden, Now Against PM

    © AFP 2017/ Erik SIMANDER / TT News Agency
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    In what is believed to be one of the largest data security breaches in Swedish history, which has already led to the downfall of several ministers, is now threatening Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, after the Sweden Democrats, which are in effect Sweden's only opposition party, have called a vote of no confidence over his handling of the crisis.

    According to the Sweden Democrats (SD), Stefan Löfven should be held responsible both for the massive leak of sensitive government information to foreign actors due to flawed outsourcing practices and for the subsequent attempts to cover it up.

    "He's been talking about disasters, but not about the disaster in his own government offices, that information wasn't passed along, and his role as the leader in that," Paula Bieler, the Sweden Democrat MP who called for the vote in parliament, said, as quoted by Swedish Radio.

    The SD parliamentary group leader Mattias Karlsson added that the prime minister has not been "addressing his responsibilities in earnest."

    Over the past several months, the snowballing "IT-Gate" has triggered the resignation of several politicians, engendering the Social Democrats' leadership. In September, Transport Agency deputy director general Jacob Gramenius resigned after it was revealed that he approved the digressions from the national security rules in the summer of 2014. In late July, Interior Minister Ygeman and Infrastructure Minister Anna Johansson resigned of their own accord in the face of a no confidence vote and allegations of neglecting their responsibilities as the transport data leak made top secret databases available to foreign IT workers. The former director of the Transport Agency, Maria Ågren, was fired in early 2017 for undisclosed reasons.

    Since the resignation of Stefan Löfven's own secretary Emma Lennartsson, all eyes have been fixed on the prime minister himself.

    The vote will likely take place on Friday. However, since the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats enjoy the tough stance of a pariah party, being alienated by Sweden's political establishment, their vote is unlikely to succeed.

    For a vote of no confidence to go through, an absolute majority is required, which means at least 175 of the Swedish parliament's 349 members. However, the SD is unlikely to gather any support from fellow opposition parties.

    Center Party leader Annie Lööf ventured that there were no substantial reasons for such a vote, the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter reported. Perhaps unsurprisingly, her views were shared by the Liberals, the Conservatives and even the Christian Democrats, not to the mention the Social Democrats themselves who are supporting their party leader and prime minister by all means available.

    SD leader Jimmie Åkesson, however, made it clear that his party was also determined to call a similar vote against Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist, whose involvement in the IT-leak also triggered massive suspicions.

    However, in the Hultqvist case though, the SD are likely to enlist fellow opposition parties' support. Despite the fact that Hultqvist's ratings havenot suffered much in the aftermath of the IT leak, Johan Forssell of the Conservative Party argued that matters of confidence were not a popularity contest, Expressen reported.

    The security scandal dates back to 2015 when the Swedish Transport Agency outsourced its operations to contractors in a number of Eastern European countries to access classified information, including a complete registry of Sweden's drivers and police databases containing criminal records, without any security clearance. The leak, which has since been described as one of the largest in the country's history, could have put both Sweden's security and personal information at risk.

    All the key figures of the "IT-Gate"scandal received information at various stages of 2016, yet failed to take measures. Löfven, who admittedly has known of the leak since early 2017 and has since been criticized for idleness, called it a "mess" and admitted it exposed "both Sweden and Swedes" to risk, yet refused to bow to demands from opponents for an early election.

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    Tags:
    IT, data breach, Sweden Democrats party, Jimmie Åkesson, Anders Ygeman, Stefan Löfven, Peter Hultqvist, Scandinavia, Sweden
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