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Swedish PM replaces Mins. in data leak scandal, averting early polls

RADIO DANAN: Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven has sacked two cabinet members amid a political crisis over the leaking of critical data in a failed IT outsourcing deal in his bid to avert the option of calling for early polls.

Responding Thursday to the major scandal, Lofven replaced his cabinet ministers of infrastructure and interior instead of having to hold snap election over a year ahead of schedule, though he kept his defense minister in place, despite demands by opposition parties for his dismissal.

“I have to take responsibility for the country. It wouldn’t serve Sweden to throw the country into a political crisis,” he emphasized during a press conference, pointing to many challenges currently facing Sweden and the European Union, including Brexit.

The political crisis involves the handling of data under a 2015 outsourcing agreement between the Swedish Transport Agency and IBM Sweden as Lofven admitted earlier in the week that the nation and its citizens had been exposed to risks by potential leaks of sensitive information.

Among the data that could have been accessible outside Sweden were registration numbers of most vehicles on land, air and sea within the country.

Local reports have cited whistleblowers as warning that data about vehicles used by the country’s armed forces and the police may have ended up in the wrong hands, and thus the identities of some security and military personnel could also have been compromised.

However, opposition parties Christian Democrats and the ultra-right Sweden Democrats insisted on their bid to press ahead with a no confidence vote for Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist. 

A four-party opposition alliance announced later on Thursday that it will indeed press ahead with a no confidence vote against Hultqvist, but will do so after its summer recess.

“The reason for our request for a vote of no confidence against Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist is unchanged,” said the alliance in a statement.

If they succeed with the vote, it could still lead to the downfall of Lofven’s minority left-green government, forcing him to quit or call for an early election.

“I will handle that if and when it happens,” Lofven added during his press conference, referring to the potential no-confidence vote, noting that the opposition should think twice before taking such a measure.

“It is important for the members of parliament that are going to push the button … that this is the responsibility they have taken upon themselves,” he further stated.

According to the report, the options available to the opposition parties are constrained by the fact that the nationalist, anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats have held the balance of power in parliament since 2010.

While other parties refuse to work with the far-right party, they are unable to form majority governments without them.