STOCKHOLM — Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has managed to temporarily defuse the potential collapse of his government after executing a hastily constructed Cabinet reshuffle.
The stability of Löfven’s socialist administration is under threat as opposition leaders move no-confidence motions against three ministers who they claim were negligent in their supervisory duties pertaining to a state information technology contract outsourced to the company IBM.
However, Löfven’s reshuffle may not be enough to save the defense minister, Peter Hultqvist, who is the subject of a no-confidence motion by opposition leaders.
The Alliance, a collaborative group that comprises opposition parties the Center, Moderates, Sweden Democrats and Christian Democrats, is pushing ahead with a vote of no-confidence against Hultqvist for his role in the so-called Transport Agency IT affair.
“That two ministers are resigning from Stefan Löfven’s government over this national security crisis is welcome. That said, the grounds for no-confidence in Peter Hultqvist remain,” said Moderate Party leader Anna Kinberg Batra.
In all, the Alliance has filed motions of no-confidence against three government ministers, including Hultqvist, linked to the Transport Agency’s outsourcing of an IT-database contract to IBM in 2015.
The Alliance’s anger was raised July 27 when Hultqvist was excluded from Löfven’s Cabinet reshuffle.
“The national and global security landscape is important right now. We have an uncertain situation in Iran and Europe, and the world generally. We also have problems in the European Union,” Löfven said.
Löfven said Hultqvist would remain on as defense minister. The prime minister refuted claims by Alliance leaders that Hultqvist played an oversight role in the Transport Agency IT affair.
“The claims being made against Peter Hultqvist are completely irresponsible. He does not have any responsibility for the authority where the shortcomings took place”, Löfven said.
Hultqvist has denied ministerial oversight in the Transport Agency’s IT outsourcing contract.
“I want to continue with my work to upgrade Sweden’s military capability and deepen our international cooperation. The Ministry of Defence does not have responsibility for the Transport Agency. The problems that exist there are for the Transport Agency’s board,” Hultqvist said.
The Alliance leaders named Hultqvist, Home Affairs Minister Anders Ygeman and Infrastructure Minister Anna Johansson as the three government ministers with oversight on the outsourcing of the Transport Agency’s IT database management contract to IBM.
In the no-confidence motions lodged, the Alliance claims that the three ministers endangered Swedish national security by failing to conduct adequate due diligence and proper ongoing supervision related to the outsourcing to IBM.
The Alliance has accused Hultqvist and the two other government ministers of ignoring repeated warnings by SAPO, Sweden’s national security agency, which raised concerns over unauthorized access to databases being managed by IBM.
A state-commissioned investigation into possible breaches of database security has found that IBM used non-Swedish subcontractors to manage elements of the IT database management contract. Foreign technicians, some without the required level of security clearance, had access to the Transport Agency’s core databases.
Gerard O'Dwyer reported on Scandinavian affairs for Defense News.