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Political pressure protected Margot Wallström
'It's hard to shake off the suspicion...' From an op-ed at SR.
STOCKHOLM (Rixstep) — To not be charged is not the same as not having done anything wrong. So although the prosecutor closed the case against Margot Wallström, many will continue to think it was inappropriate of our foreign minister to use her contacts with the unions to get a lucrative luxury flat in the inner city - even if she hasn't done anything illegal.
Nevertheless it must be a great relief for both minister Wallström and her cabinet that the unexpectedly protracted investigation came to an end. Margot Wallström has, from the very beginning, strutted around in complete confidence, both by accusing her union friends of deceiving her (?) and by acting so assured the case would ultimately be dropped.
Originally there were many who didn't take the investigation seriously. There have been similar cut-and-dried cases that ended up quietly being closed. Most people reckoned this one would soon be over too.
But the case dragged on - and the cabinet started getting nervous. Not just because the prosecutor's office conducted several dozen interrogations, but because they also poured over heaps of documents, including official cabinet paperwork.
There were whispers that the whole thing would turn out badly. A trial could have forced out one of the government's highest profiled ministers. Wallström's departure could have hurt the cabinet a lot more than the other myriad scandals.
It's hard to shake off the suspicion that political pressure protected Margot Wallström. Condemnation of both Margot Wallström and the union was at fever pitch in January. And it wasn't just her political opponents who were quick to condemn - quite a few legal experts condemned her as well. Margot Wallström is one of the cabinet's most powerful ministers, but also one of the most controversial. The prosecutor was under a lot of pressure. No matter the decision, it would be criticised; and so it was particularly important to be able to show that the investigation was conducted properly.
The prosecutor was evidently given quite a few 'tips', most likely from political opponents who would have liked to see a trial. This probably drew out the investigation even more.
But Margot Wallström still can't breathe out. The next crisis isn't judicial in nature: the week after midsummer we'll learn if Sweden gets a nonpermanent two-year seat on the United Nations Security Council. And there will be many who will blame Margot Wallström if the Swedish bid proves unsuccessful.
Margot Wallström has been under suspicion (and investigation) for taking bribes from the corrupt leadership of the municipal workers union 'Kommunal', one of the country's biggest, with most members being low-paid female employees. Margot Wallström was already one of the richest politicians in Sweden, having refused to pay taxes on her salary and benefits whilst appointed to the European Commission by a Swedish prime minister who simply wanted her out of the country. She received a fully furnished luxury flat - crystal chandeliers and the works - through the union, thereby bypassing the notoriously record-breaking twenty-year housing queue in the capital, for an effective monthly rent of about £10, and then claimed not knowing about the queue or that she'd been given a 'special deal'. Party colleagues accused her of 'stabbing her union friends in the back'. She's also refused to take a stand in support of Edward Snowden and been pro-NATO and supportive of the US-sponsored coup in the Ukraine.