Berlin, July 27 (IANS) Dismissing calls for his resignation, Sweden’s embattled Prime Minister Stefan Lofven on Thursday ousted two Cabinet ministers in a reshuffle aimed at relieving the pressure his minority government is facing over an IT security scandal.
Social Democrat leader Lofven said Interior Minister Anders Ygeman and Infrastructure Minister Anna Johhansson, at the heart of the scandal, had resigned but he stood by Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist, whose head was also sought by the centre-right opposition Alliance in its no-confidence bid against all three ministers, Efe news reported.
“I have no intention of plunging Sweden into political crisis,” Lofven said, according to Sweden’s TT news agency, justifying his choice of a reshuffle over a snap election, citing future challenges facing his government such as Brexit and tensions in the Baltic.
At the beginning of the week, Lofven described the transport data scandal that dogged his minority coalition government as “a disaster”.
The turmoil dated back to 2015, when Sweden’s Transport Agency outsourced the handling of its data to IT company IMB, which then offered the work out to foreign sub-contractors who did not have the necessary clearance to access the sensitive information, which included registration data for every vehicle in Sweden.
The database included documentation on police and military vehicles, protected identities, police records and routes used by armoured vans carrying large quantities of money.
Lofven was pushed to take action when Alliance, the opposition coalition, moved a motion of no-confidence against Ygeman, Johhansson and Hultqvist.
It remains to be seen whether Alliance will continue their efforts against the Defence Minister. The Transport Agency offered its assurance that, to its knowledge, none of the vulnerable data outsourced to IMB had landed in the wrong hands.