Fredrik Reinfeldt

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Fredrik Reinfeldt
Carl XVI Gustaf
Prime MinisterGöran Persson
Preceded byBo Lundgren
Succeeded byGöran Persson
Leader of the Moderate Party
In office
25 October 2003 – 10 January 2015
DeputyGunilla Carlsson
Preceded byBo Lundgren
Succeeded byAnna Kinberg Batra
Personal details
Born
John Fredrik Reinfeldt

(1965-08-04) 4 August 1965 (age 58)
Haninge, Sweden
Political partyModerate Party
Spouse
(m. 1992; div. 2013)
Domestic partner(s)Roberta Alenius
(2015–2022)
Children4
Alma materStockholm University
Signature
Military service
AllegianceSweden
Branch/serviceSwedish Army
UnitLapland Ranger Regiment

John Fredrik Reinfeldt (pronounced

liberal conservative Moderate Party from 2003 to 2015. He was the last rotating President of the European Council in 2009. He is chairman of the Swedish Football Association
since 25 March 2023.

A native of

Member of Parliament from 1991 to 2014, representing his home constituency. Reinfeldt was elected party leader on 25 October 2003, succeeding Bo Lundgren. Under his leadership, the Moderate Party has transformed its policies and oriented itself closer to the political centre, branding itself "the New Moderates" (Swedish: Nya moderaterna). In 2010, under Reinfeldt's leadership, the Moderate Party got its highest share of the vote since the introduction of universal suffrage
in 1921.

Following the

Alliance for Sweden, Reinfeldt presided over a coalition government
with the support of a narrow majority in parliament. At the age of 41, he was the third-youngest person to become Prime Minister of Sweden.

Reinfeldt's first term in office was marked by the

].

His premiership was characterised by "Arbetslinjen" (English: Working line), a focus on getting more people into the workforce, and by management of the late-2000s financial crisis and recession, which resulted in one of the world's strongest public finances and top rankings in climate and health care.

He is the longest-serving non-Social Democratic Prime Minister since Erik Gustaf Boström's first spell in office between 1891 and 1900. After his defeat in the 2014 election Reinfeldt announced that he would step down from leading the party, which he did on 10 January 2015.

Early life and education

John Fredrik Reinfeldt

Shell. Upon returning to Sweden, the family first lived in an apartment in Handen before moving to a terraced house in Bromsten in northwestern Stockholm. The Reinfeldt family was living in Bromsten when Fredrik's younger brothers, Magnus and Henrik, were born in 1969 and 1973. In 1976, the family moved into a single-family home in Täby in northeastern Stockholm County. His mother Birgitta was a leadership and management consultant, and some of her professional skills might have inspired and impressed the young Fredrik.[3][4]

At the age of 11, Reinfeldt became chairman of the student council (Swedish: elevrådet) in his school, and became a fan of the

Stockholm University School of Business with a degree in Business and Economics (Swedish: civilekonomexamen) in 1990.[6]

Political career

Reinfeldt joined the

hard liquor and to consume wine and beer in moderate amounts,[3] started "Conservative Youth" (Swedish: Konservativ ungdom) and formed a bond with the mother party, eventually taking over the youth league in 1987. In 1988 he became a secretary (Swedish: borgarrådssekreterare) in the Stockholm Municipality Council.[3]

He was active in student politics while studying at Stockholm University, eventually becoming chairman of the student party "Borgerliga Studenter – Opposition '68" between 1988 and 1989.[6] He became chairman of the Moderate Youth League's Stockholm branch in 1990, and the following year was elected a member of the Riksdag (the Swedish Parliament).[6] In the Swedish general election of 1991 the Moderate Party and its allies had considerable success, leading to the formation of a centre-right coalition government under Moderate Party leader and Prime Minister Carl Bildt. The 1991 government was the first centre-right government in Sweden since 1982.[3]

Leader of the Moderate Youth League

From 1992 to 1995 Reinfeldt was the chairman of the Moderate Youth League. He ousted the former chairman

libertarians; Reinfeldt represented the conservatives and Kristersson the libertarians.[9] Reinfeldt later stated that although the effects of that deep ideological division and battle in the party lingered on within the Moderate Youth League, he also felt that it was a defining moment in his life. Had he lost the battle he would most likely not be in politics today.[3][8] In 1993 Reinfeldt wrote the book Det sovande folket, Transl:"The sleeping people", where he criticized the Swedish welfare state and argues for a liberal societal system. With phrases such as: "We don't want to see a society where people starve, but other than that no standard rights should be financed by taxes."[10][11] The book later haunted Reinfeldt, when he faced criticism for phrases such as "The swedes are mentally handicapped and indoctrinated to believe that politicians can create and guarantee welfare."[12][13][14]

From 1995 to 1997 he was chairman of the Democrat Youth Community of Europe.[15]

Following the defeat of the Bildt government in the general election of 1994 he publicly criticized the Moderate Party leader Bildt, who he believed had become too dominant in the party.[4]

In 1995 Reinfeldt co-authored the book "Nostalgitrippen" (The Nostalgic Trip), which described several persons in the Moderate Party leadership, including

satirize; a nobleman living in the affluent Östermalm with a boyish expression and a better-than-you attitude.[3] As for the other high party officials, the book stated that "If everyone appears similar to Carl it confirms peoples misconceptions about the Moderate Party. It becomes a party for Carl Bildt-copies."[8]

This provoked swift reaction from the Moderate Party leadership, who believed that Reinfeldt's criticisms had gone too far. On 14 February 1995 Reinfeldt was called to a meeting of the Moderate Party's Riksdag group, which took place in the former second chamber (Swedish: andrakammarsalen) of the Swedish parliament building, a meeting where Bildt apparently scolded him for hours.[4] After this, Reinfeldt toned down his criticism, but was ostracized within the Moderate Party and not given any important posts until after the change of leadership when Lundgren succeeded Bildt in 1999. At that time he was elected into a high party group, the förtroenderåd.[3] From 2001 to 2002 Reinfeldt was chairman of the justice committee of the Riksdag. During this time he traveled around the country gathering impressions and support at the local level of the Moderate Party.[3][4]

Leader of the Moderate Party

In the general election of 2002 the Moderate Party gained 15.3 percent of the votes—its lowest share of the vote in a general election since 1973.[16] Following the loss, Lundgren was forced to resign his position as leader of the Moderate Party.[17] After the 2002 election Reinfeldt was elected as leader of the Moderate Party parliamentary group, spokesman for economic policy and vice chairman of the parliament's finance committee. On 25 October 2003 he was unanimously elected as the new leader of the Moderate Party.[4]

"The New Moderates"

Under Reinfeldt's leadership, the Moderate Party adjusted its position in the political spectrum, moving towards the centre. To reflect these changes, the party's unofficial name was altered to "The New Moderates" (Swedish: De nya Moderaterna) in order to emphasize the break with the past.[18] The Moderate Party started to focus more on calls for tax cuts for low- and middle-income groups, rather than on major tax cuts that would more benefit high-income earners.[19]

As leader of the Moderate Party, Reinfeldt tended to be less forceful in his criticism of the

Swedish welfare state than his predecessors. He instead proposed reforms to Sweden's welfare state, which included cutting taxes for the lowest income earners and reducing unemployment benefits, in order to encourage the jobless to return to work.[19] He toned down calls within the party for dismantling large portions of the Swedish welfare state, stating that change must come gradually from the bottom up and not be dictated from the top down.[17] His goal was said to be to fine-tune the welfare state, by focusing on getting people off welfare benefits and into employment. He worked to shift the conservatives toward the middle ground by convincing voters that he would fix rather than dismantle the public welfare system.[19]

Reinfeldt even extended an invitation to the

Labour and employment laws, stating that he prefers small changes instead of any radical reform.[21]

People both within and outside the party differ on their analysis of Reinfeldt's transformation of the Moderate Party, with some arguing that the party was mainly honing the way it describes its visions, and others suggesting that it constituted a substantial policy change towards the centre.[22][23][24] As a consequence of Reinfeldt's shift of the Moderate Party to the centre, the differences between the Moderate Party and their traditional opponents the Social Democratic Party have become harder to discern.[21] In a series of radio and television debates, the then-Social Democrat leader and Prime Minister Göran Persson portrayed his opponent as a classic conservative in disguise. Persson stated that, if put into power, the conservatives would tamper with Sweden's successful formula of high taxes, a large public sector and generous benefits.[25] There was also some criticism within the party; former Moderate Youth League chairman Christofer Fjellner called Reinfeldt's political reform "leftist rhetoric" (Swedish: vänsterretorik).[21]

Alliance for Sweden

Alliance for Sweden in 2006. From left: Göran Hägglund, Lars Leijonborg, Maud Olofsson
, Reinfeldt.

In the run-up to the

Liberal People's Party and the Christian Democrats. Reinfeldt is said to have been instrumental in uniting the four parties, which previously were known for being notoriously divided, in order to present a powerful alternative to the Social Democrats.[17][19] The parties presented a joint election manifesto for the alliance.[17][26]

2006 Swedish general election

Fredrik Reinfeldt and the Prime Minister of Poland, Donald Tusk.

During the run-up to the 2006 Swedish general election, Reinfeldt was subjected to a smear campaign. Mats Lindström, a staff member in the Social Democratic Party headquarters, admitted to sending e-mails accusing Reinfeldt of tax fraud, false financial declarations and only attaining his position because of his father's influence.[27] The IP address used in the e-mails was traced to the Social Democratic Party headquarters. Social Democratic Party Secretary Marita Ulvskog apologized and said that such behavior was completely unacceptable.[28][29] A short time after the e-mail campaign, images that depicted Reinfeldt and the Moderate Party in an unflattering light were spread internally within the Social Democratic Party and subsequently leaked to the media.[30] Social Democratic Party spokeswoman Carina Persson confirmed that the material came from the Social Democratic Youth League, but denied the existence of an official smear campaign and stated that the material was not meant to be released or spread to a wider audience.[31][32]

At the general election on 17 September 2006 the Alliance for Sweden won a majority of the votes after the first count, defeating the Social Democratic Party.[33] The Moderates gained 26.1 percent of the votes, a new record for the party and over 10 percentage points higher than in 2002.[19] The election result was also historic in being the worst result for the Social Democrats ever (34.6 percent) in a general election under universal suffrage (introduced in 1921).[16]

Looking back at the defeat of the incumbent Social Democrats, the opinion among several members of the defeated incumbents was that the election was lost because the previous government failed to bring down unemployment, and failed to campaign on it as an issue. Ardalan Shekarabi, the former chairman for the Swedish Social Democratic Youth League, stated that "the Moderates were right strategically to focus on unemployment".[34] Former Social Democratic minister Leif Pagrotsky stated that internal fighting, authoritarianism and perceived aggressiveness as well as a loss of appeal to the middle class and city inhabitants contributed to the election loss.[35]

2010 Swedish general election

In the 2010 general election held on 19 September 2010 the Alliance for Sweden were reduced to a minority government, but also becoming the first centre-right government to be re-elected since before World War II. The Moderate Party gained 30.06% of the votes, which was the highest election result in over one hundred years.[citation needed]

The Alliance for Sweden received a plurality of votes, but not full majority in Parliament. But because of the fragmented opposition, after the entrance of the Sweden Democrats in parliament, the government could continue.[citation needed]

Prime Minister (2006–2014)

Reinfeldt became the

Alliance for Sweden, later turned into the Alliance.[citation needed
]

At a press conference prior to his appointment, Reinfeldt commented that "this feels historic in many ways" partly because it was the first time in 36 years there would be a majority government in Sweden.[citation needed]

First term (2006–2010)

2008 Financial Crisis

A global financial crisis was triggered in 2008, beginning in the

cuts to stimulate domestic production and commerce. The Cabinet received criticism for holding to hard in the public finances, with limited investments, and the support of Reinfeldt's policies dropped to one of the lowest ever seen for an incumbent Government.[citation needed
]

From 2009, the Swedish economy emerged as one of the world's fastest recovering economies with high

developed countries, and this was highlighted by the Government as a force in the run-up to 2010 general election. As Sweden emerged as the best country on several areas after the financial crisis it brought a resurgence of support, which eventually resulted in his re-election in 2010. This was the first time ever that the Moderate Party was re-elected after completing a full first term.[citation needed
]

President of the European Council

Reinfeldt became

Second term (2010–2014)

Reinfeldt at the EPP Congress in March 2012

In the

Alliance got a plurality of votes cast, but with 173 seats no absolute majority in parliament. With the opposition divided mainly by the Sweden Democrats, Reinfeldt could remain in government, but with a greater need to seek consensus on matters of substance with the opposition parties.[citation needed
]

The second term compromised a slow recovery from the

]

Reinfeldt had during his second term, in contrast to his first term, no major international engagement. Contacts with other politicians, however, remained good, which was also marked by Barack Obama's visit to Stockholm in September 2013.[citation needed]

Immigration policy

After the nationalist Sweden Democrats entered the Riksdag, Reinfeldt wanted to seek bipartisan consensus on immigration policy in an attempt to undercut and isolate the Sweden Democrats on their main issue. In early 2011 an agreement between the Alliance and the Green Party was reached, which would among other things, give undocumented immigrants access to universal healthcare and lessen the requirements for family reunification.[41] During the last year of Reinfeldt's time in office Sweden faced the biggest influx of immigrants it had ever seen up until that point.[42] During a press conference in the run-up to the 2014 election campaign Reinfeldt urged the Swedish people to "open their hearts" (Swedish: öppna era hjärtan) to people fleeing wars, stating that he wouldn't promise much in the upcoming campaign considering the costs that the immigration would bring.[43] The Sweden Democrats perceived the press conference as confirming their belief that asylum immigration is in conflict with the Swedish welfare state.[44]

Economic policy

He adopted a liberal roadmap, leading in particular to a modification of the tax system (including the abandonment of inheritance tax), a tightening of the conditions of access to unemployment benefits or sick pay, and the reduction of public spending.

It

privatised much of the health sector from 2006, with mixed results. While the number of specialists has increased, reducing waiting times for appointments, privatisation has also led to higher costs for the government (to make a profit, private institutions have to increase the number of consultations and interventions) and increased inequalities in access to health care, with specialists tending to leave the regions for the big cities and the suburbs for wealthier areas.[45]

In early 2013, the liberal British magazine The Economist praised the Reinfeldt government's reforms, pointing out that the country could become "the next liberal supermodel".

Foreign policy

Reinfeldt with U.S. President George W. Bush at the White House.
Reinfeldt meets with President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso, President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev and EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana with in the EU–Russia Summit in Stockholm, 18 November 2009.
Reinfeldt with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in 2011

The Moderate Party has a pro-

Stockholm City on 8 March 2004, Reinfeldt said that he preferred Bush over the Democratic Party contender John Kerry, and in a poll conducted by the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet in April 2004, Reinfeldt like a large majority of his party favoured Bush over Kerry.[51]

Foreign trips made by Fredrik Reinfeldt as Prime Minister

Despite this, he has compared his government's actions and policies to those of Bill Clinton's administration, and supported Barack Obama in the 2008 United States presidential election.[52]

Reinfeldt visited Washington, D.C., on 15 May 2007, meeting with President Bush. His trip also included meetings with others, including United Nations

Doha Round.[56][57][58] He visited President Barack Obama at first the White House and then in the Metropolitan Museum of Art on 23 September 2009.[citation needed
]

Reinfeldt was President of the European Council from 1 July to 1 December 2009. The signing of the Treaty of Lisbon was Reinfeldt's role as President of the Council, which also occurred on 13 December 2009. Reinfeldt was also responsible in this role to put EU's efforts to get into a binding agreement at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in 2009 but this did not succeed.[citation needed]

Post-premiership (2014–present)

After defeat in 2014, Reinfeldt announced he would step down as both Prime Minister of Sweden and as party leader of the Moderate Party. He stepped down from the office of Prime Minister on 3 October 2014, being succeeded by Stefan Löfven. He resigned from the Riksdag on 31 December 2014 and stepped down as party leader on 10 January 2015, being succeeded by Anna Kinberg Batra.[citation needed]

On 19 January 2015, Reinfeldt announced that he had formed his own business Fredrik Reinfeldt AB where he will serve as an advisor and lecturer. He will also continue to promote his "job line", which was a key part of his premiership, in a continued community deed.[59] On 1 September 2015 he launched his autobiography, titled Halfway, where he reflects over his 25 years in Swedish and international politics.[60]

On 11 December 2015, Reinfeldt was nominated to become the next chairman of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.[61] He will be formally appointed in February 2016.[citation needed]

In January 2016, Reinfeldt was awarded

Bank of America Merrill Lynch as a senior adviser for its business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.[63]

On 25 March 2023, he was elected chairman of the Swedish Football Association.[64]

Public perception

Reinfeldt has been called a "Swedish

communitarian.[65]

In a study by

Sifo, a Swedish polling institute, Reinfeldt was the "most admired man in Sweden" in 2006.[66] Reinfeldt's approval rating reached its highest measured point yet in December 2006, at 57% approval in an Aftonbladet/Sifo poll.[67] Approval ratings for Reinfeldt as a person remained overall good but fluctuating through most of the period 2006–2010, but did not always seem to translate into support for the cabinet.[citation needed
]

Reinfeldt has been perceived as a controlled and harmonious person. He was described, already before he became prime minister, as "gentle, pensive and a good listener" and his "cool, soft-spoken approach" is said to go down well with Swedish voters; it also fits well with the promotion of the policies of his cabinet as being not ideological, but motivated by non-political reason and common sense, in implicit contrast to the "ideological excesses" of the Social Democrats and their allies. Aware of this perception, Reinfeldt has said "I am by nature confident and calm. But that does not mean I am not passionate and wouldn't feel strongly about things."[19] Regarding his family life, Reinfeldt has cultivated the image of a good family man who enjoys housework.[17][19]

Criticism

Reinfeldt has been criticized for supposedly anti-Swedish commentary such as "The native Swedish culture is only barbaric" which referred to the positive effect the inflow of people and influences had on the development of Sweden.[68] Reinfeldt was also criticized for his book "Det sovande folket" ("The sleeping nation"), of which he initially denied authorship, but later confessed calling it a "sin of the youth".[69] VLT published an article stating that Reinfeldt was 28 years old, a business and economics graduate and had been in parliament for two years and that he "knew fully what he was doing".[70] The book has also received criticism for proposing radical neoliberalism.[71] Reinfeldt has been called "one of Sweden's most dangerous leaders" in an article by Social Democrat Daniel Suhonen.[72] Reinfeldt has also been criticized for having sold out parts of elderly care, privatized some primary and secondary schools and pharmacies.[73] Reinfeldt received heavy criticism for having proposed in a deputy report, authored by himself, that Swedes should work to the age of 75 and further if possible.[74] SVT published an article of Reinfeldt's commentary on Twitter speaking of low unemployment among "ethnic swedes" for which he received severe criticism.[75] Blekinge Läns Tidning published an article criticizing Reinfeldt for being narrow minded stating that "migration can save the pension system".[76] Henrik Lilja of conspiracy oriented Facebook group ProjektSanning criticized Reinfeldt for having "destroyed Sweden".[77] Breakit criticized Reinfeldt after the "Ipred-lagen" (online piracy law) was passed in Sweden, since he stated that young file-share users would not be chased by the authorities but failed to mention that private corporates could force ISPs to release data.[78] Reinfeldt asked the Swedish public to "open their hearts" towards refugees which he was criticized for by some political opponents.[79] He also received criticism for not having provided the financial prerequisites during his eight years in power.[80] Leftist anarchist leaning website AktuelltFokus published an article criticizing Reinfeldt, after leaving politics, for receiving a government pension with monthly payments of 156 000 SEK[81] from Swedish tax money while his own corporate declared a profit of 22 million SEK in 2016.[82] Jimmie Åkesson, party leader of the nationalist Sweden Democrats, has often called Reinfeldt "swede-phobic".[83]

Personal life

Fredrik Reinfeldt with his (now former) wife Filippa during the 2009 Swedish National Day celebrations at Skansen, Stockholm.

In 1992, Fredrik Reinfeldt married

County Councillor for healthcare issues (Swedish: sjukvårdslandstingsråd) in Stockholm. After being elected Prime Minister in 2006, Reinfeldt moved into the prime minister's official residence, the Sager House, together with his wife and their three children, Ebba, Gustaf and Erik.[17][19] On 7 March 2012 it became known that the couple had separated.[84] On 11 July 2012 the couple signed their divorce papers with consideration of 6 months.[85] On 20 February 2013 they signed the last papers which conducted their divorce.[86]

His father Bruno Reinfeldt was also formerly involved in local politics for the Moderate Party in Täby, but left all his political posts in February 2009 after having been arrested and later convicted for drunk driving.[87][88]

On 23 February 2015, Reinfeldt confirmed that he was now in a relationship with Roberta Alenius. Alenius served as Head of Communications (Chief of the Press Secretaries) at the Cabinet Office from 2006 to 2014, while Reinfeldt served as Prime Minister. On 2 May 2017, Alenius gave birth to Reinfeldt's fourth child and second daughter.[89] The couple announced in 2022 that they had separated.[90]

During the 2006 election, it was brought to attention that Reinfeldt's paternal great-great-grandfather was an African American circus director from New York, John Hood, who had a son with Emma Dorotea Reinfeld, a

illegitimate son John kept his mother's surname. The spelling was later changed to Reinfeldt.[4][91][92] He also has Italian ancestry, via his paternal grandmother.[92]

Personal opinions

He has revealed that his personal distaste for the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats party is based on his partly African ancestry.[93]

Reinfeldt has said that he left the Church of Sweden when he was eighteen years old, critical of the left-leaning perspectives of the church. In an interview as Prime Minister he however said that he could not state if he believed in God, discussing his belief "that something exist that is not just about the scientific explanation for how the Earth was created. But exactly what it is I don't have an answer for, I am both searching and wondering." He was however married, and had his children baptized in the Church of Sweden.[94]

He has lately also attracted some attention as a political science fiction writer. His social dystopia "Det sovande folket" (The Sleeping People) was in 2013 featured as a play at Teater Alma in Stockholm.[95]

Honours

National honours

Foreign honours

Works

References

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Further reading

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by Chairman of the Swedish Football Association
2023–
Incumbent
Party political offices
Preceded by Chairman of the Moderate Youth League
1992–1995
Succeeded by
Preceded by Leader of the Moderate Party
2003–2015
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Leader of the Opposition
2003–2006
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prime Minister of Sweden
2006–2014
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of the European Council
2009
Succeeded by
Preceded by Leader of the Opposition
2014–2015
Succeeded by
Order of precedence
Preceded byas Former Prime Minister Swedish order of precedence
Former Prime Minister
Succeeded byas Former Prime Minister