Swedish labour minister resigns before election

The Swedish minister responsible for the politically-sensitive area of jobs quit in tears for personal reasons, just two months before an election.

Swedish labour minister resigns before election

 

The Swedish minister responsible for the politically-sensitive area of jobs quit in tears on Wednesday for personal reasons, just two months before an election, but analysts saw little damage to the government.

One analyst said Employment Minister Sven Otto Littorin was not a key personality in the election. But the jobs issue will remain vital for voters in campaigning for the Sept. 19 general election, which polls signal will be a close race between the centre-right government and the centre-left opposition.

Littorin, a member of Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt's Moderate Party, told reporters he was unable to cope with media attention surrounding a child custody battle with his ex-wife.

"This is where I draw the line," said a sobbing Littorin, making the announcement at an annual meeting of political parties on the island of Gotland, off Sweden's southeast coast.

Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy Tobias Billstrom will take over as acting Employment Minister, the government said at a news conference in Stockholm.

Reinfeldt's centre-right government came to power in 2006 with a promise to create more jobs, as well to cut taxes and protect the welfare state. But the jobless rate is higher now, at almost 9 percent, than when Reinfeldt took over, thanks largely to the global crisis.

The government expects the economy, which is recovering from its worst recession since World War Two in 2009, to grow this year and that the jobless rate will drop to 8.4 percent in 2011.

However, youth unemployment is among the highest in the European Union, at more than 30 percent.

Analysts said the jobs issue was not linked too much with Littorin personally as a minister, meaning his resignation would do little to change voters' views of the government on jobs.

"He was no driving force in the election campaign, but the issues he is handling are crucial," said Magnus Blomgren, political scientist at Umea University.

"If there had been some kind of political scandal in the background or political disagreement, it might have been of importance, but that does not seem to be the case."

Reinfeldt's centre-right government is facing a "red-green" coalition led by the Social Democrats and including the Green Party and the Left Party.

Recent polls have shown the government pulling ahead, but the election is still seen as too close to call.
 

Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 07 Temmuz 2010, 17:50
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