Swedish PM Lofven drops two ministers over IT crisis


Sweden’s Prime Minister, Stefan Lofven, says his minority government will not resign despite a security crisis over the handling of sensitive public data.

He said two ministers would leave their posts, rejecting calls for a snap election.

Citing Brexit and security he said “I won’t put Sweden in political crisis.”

Meanwhile, the main opposition bloc said a vote of no confidence in a third minister would go ahead after the parliament recess.

For weeks, the government has been dogged by revelations of a glaring security breach involving an IT contract. Mr Lofven himself said earlier this week: “This is a disaster. This has exposed Sweden and Swedish citizens to risks.”

He said two ministers were stepping down – Anna Johansson (Infrastructure) and Anders Ygeman (Interior). But Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist, who was also under pressure, has survived.

The four parties that make up the opposition Alliance bloc said they would press ahead with a vote of no confidence in Mr Hultqvist, but would not seek an emergency recall of parliament from its summer recess.

What went wrong?

The crisis dates back two years to an IT contract that left public data in foreign hands but only this month has mushroomed into a security debacle with serious questions about the role of high-profile ministers.

In 2015, Sweden’s Transport Agency, Transportstyrelsen, awarded its IT maintenance contract to IBM, which then gave the work to subcontractors in the Czech Republic and Serbia.

It was a scandal that involved “giving away the keys to the kingdom”, in the words of a Transport Agency IT worker when interviewed by Sweden’s Sapo security service.

The decision was made by the agency’s then director general, Maria Agren, even though Sapo had advised her not to. She ignored three key security laws – the National Security Act, the Personal Data Act and the Publicity and Privacy Act.

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Source: BBC