|32nd Prime Minister of Sweden|
6 October 2006 – 3 October 2014
|Monarch||Carl XVI Gustaf|
|Preceded by||Göran Persson|
|Succeeded by||Stefan Löfven|
|Leader of the Moderate Party|
25 October 2003
|Preceded by||Bo Lundgren|
|Succeeded by||Anna Kinberg Batra (nominated)|
|President of the European Council|
1 July 2009 – 1 December 2009
|Preceded by||Jan Fischer|
|Succeeded by||Herman Van Rompuy|
|Born||John Fredrik Reinfeldt
4 August 1965
|Political party||Moderate Party|
|Spouse(s)||Filippa Holmberg (1992–2013)|
|Alma mater||Stockholm University|
John Fredrik Reinfeldt (pronounced [ˈfreːdrɪk ˈrajn.ˈfɛlt] ( ); born 4 August 1965) is a Swedish politician who was the 32nd Prime Minister of Sweden from 2006 to 2014. He has been chairman of the liberal conservative Moderate Party since 2003 and was the last rotating President of the European Council in 2009. Reinfeldt announced his resignation as both PM and party leader after suffering defeat at the 2014 general election.
A native of Stockholm County, Reinfeldt joined the Moderate Youth League in 1983, and by 1992 had risen to the rank of chairman, a position he held until 1995. He has been a Member of Parliament since 1991, 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 towards the centre, branding itself "the New Moderates" (Swedish: Nya moderaterna).
Following the 2006 general election, Reinfeldt was elected Prime Minister on 6 October. Together with the three other political parties in the centre-right Alliance for Sweden, Reinfeldt presided over a coalition government with the support of a narrow majority in the 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 late-2000s financial crisis and recession. His popularity waned even before the financial crisis, but the economy of Sweden emerged as one of the strongest in Europe and the unpopularity of the reconstituted Red-Green opposition brought a resurgence of support for him, resulting in his government's re-election in 2010. Despite the Moderate Party, giving its best share of the vote since the introduction of universal suffrage in 1919, Reinfeldt's government was reduced to a minority government, but he remained in power as the first centre-right Prime Minister since the Swedish-Norwegian Union to be re-elected. He is the longest-serving non-Social Democratic Prime Minister since Erik Gustaf Boström in 1891–1900. Reinfeldt and his centre-right coalition lost the 2014 election and he announced that he would step down from leading the party in 2015.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Political career
- 3 Prime Minister: 2006–2014
- 4 Foreign policy
- 5 Public perception
- 6 Personal life
- 7 Works
- 8 Notes
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
Early life and education
In 1965, Fredrik Reinfeldt was born at Allmänna BB hospital in Stockholm, as the oldest of three brothers to his parents Bruno and Birgitta Reinfeldt. At the time of his birth his parents lived in an apartment in Österhaninge in the south of Stockholm County, but a short time afterwards the family moved to London, England where his father worked as a consultant for 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.
At the age of 11 Reinfeldt became chairman of the student council (Swedish: elevrådet) in his school, and became a fan of the football club Djurgårdens IF, a passion he maintains to this day. He started playing basketball for the "Tensta Tigers" while living in Bromsten (which is located adjacent to Tensta), and continued to play for them after his family moved to Täby. He also enjoyed setting up and performing revues and cabarets. After school, Reinfeldt completed his military service as a ranger (Swedish: lapplandsjägare) at Lapplands jägarregemente and finished first in his class as a cadet in Umeå. It was during this time that he became interested in politics, as a representative for his regiment in the congress of conscripts in the Swedish military (Swedish: värnpliktsriksdagen). Reinfeldt graduated from Stockholm University School of Business with a degree in Business and Economics (Swedish: civilekonomexamen) in 1990. 
Reinfeldt joined the Moderate Youth League—the youth wing of the Swedish Moderate Party—in 1983 at the age of 18. As a member of the Moderate Youth League in Täby, he challenged the leaders of the local league, who preferred to use the premises as a place to drink beer and wine rather than engage in discussions about politics. Reinfeldt, who is said to dislike hard liquor and to consume wine and beer in moderate amounts, 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.
He was active in student politics while studying at Stockholm University, eventually becoming chairman for the student party "Borgerliga Studenter – Opposition '68" between 1988 and 1989. In 1990, he became chairman of the Moderate Youth League in Stockholm, and in 1991 Reinfeldt was elected a member of the Riksdag—the Swedish Parliament. 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.
Leader of the Moderate Youth League
From 1992 to 1995, Reinfeldt was the chairman of the Moderate Youth League. He ousted the former chairman, Ulf Kristersson at the controversial congress known as The Battle of Lycksele, gathering 58 of the delegates votes with Kristersson gathering 55 votes. The congress was controversial because it was the culmination of a long ideological battle within the Moderate Youth League between the conservatives and the libertarians; Reinfeldt represented the conservatives and Kristersson the libertarians. 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. During the period 1995 to 1997, Reinfeldt was chairman of the Democrat Youth Community of Europe.
At the beginning of his term as leader of the Moderate Youth League, Reinfeldt supported the government of Prime Minister Bildt, but Reinfeldt gradually changed his views and became more critical of the party leadership. In 1993, he wrote the book "Det sovande folket" (The Sleeping Nation), in which he criticized the Swedish welfare state and argued for the introduction of a neoliberalist society. The book argues that the welfare state is a stillborn construction, as it systematically puts people in benefit dependency. It states that the people of Sweden can be divided into "fools" and "sleepy-brains", out of which the former stands for those who work, and the latter for the slackened people who depend on the contributions from the welfare state. A recurrent message in the book is that "Swedes are mentally handicapped and indoctrinated to believe that politicians can create and ensure welfare".
Following the defeat of the Bildt government in the Swedish general election of 1994, Reinfeldt publicly criticized the Moderate Party leader, whom he believed had gotten too much dominance in the party.
In 1995, Reinfeldt co-authored the book "Nostalgitrippen" (The Nostalgic Trip), which described several persons in the Moderate Party leadership, including Gunnar Hökmark and Bo Lundgren, as "Carl Bildt-lookalikes." Bildt was described as being the perfect leader for the opposition to satirize; a nobleman living in the affluent Östermalm with a boyish expression and a better-than-you attitude. 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."
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. 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. From 2001 to 2002 Reinfeldt was chairman of the justice committee of the Swedish parliament. During this time he traveled around the country gathering impressions and support at the local level of the Moderate Party.
Leader of the Moderate Party
In the Swedish general election of 2002, the Moderate Party gathered 15.3 percent of the votes—its lowest share of the vote in a general election since 1973. Following the loss, Lundgren was forced to resign his position as leader of the Moderate Party. 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.
"The New Moderates"
Under Reinfeldt's leadership, the Moderate Party has 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. The Moderate Party started to focus more on calls for tax cuts for low- and middle-income groups, rather than on major tax cuts more benefiting high-income earners.
As leader of the Moderate Party, Reinfeldt has tended to be less forceful in his criticism of the Swedish welfare state than his predecessors. Reinfeldt has instead proposed reforms to Sweden's welfare state, which include cutting taxes for the lowest income earners and reducing unemployment benefits, in order to encourage the jobless to return to work. He has 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 dictated from the top down. Reinfeldt's goal is said to be to fine-tune the welfare state, by focusing on getting people off welfare benefits and into employment. He has worked to shift the conservatives toward the middle ground by convincing voters that he would fix rather than dismantle the public welfare system.
Reinfeldt has even extended an invitation to the Swedish Trade Union Confederation, traditional supporter of the Social Democrats and opponent of the Moderate Party. He also changed the Moderate Party's traditional stance towards the Swedish Labour and employment laws, stating that he prefers small changes instead of any radical reform.
People both within and outside the party differ on their analysis of the transformation of the Moderate Party, with some arguing that the party is mainly honing the way it describes its visions, and others suggesting that it constitutes a substantial policy change towards the centre. 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 Swedish Social Democratic Party have become harder to discern. 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 in power, the conservatives would tamper with Sweden's successful formula of high taxes, a large public sector and generous benefits. There is also some criticism within the party; former Moderate Youth League chairman Christofer Fjellner has called Reinfeldt's political reform as "leftist rhetoric" (Swedish: vänsterretorik).
Alliance for Sweden
In the run-up for the Swedish general election of 2006, Reinfeldt, as leader of the Moderate Party, participated in the creation of the Alliance for Sweden. It has united the centre-right in a coalition, which consists of the Moderate Party, the Centre Party, 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. The parties presented a joint election manifesto for the alliance.
2006 Swedish general election
During the run-up for 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. 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. 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. 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.
Following the general election on 17 September 2006, the Alliance for Sweden won a majority of the votes after the first count, defeating the Social Democrat Party. The Moderates gathered 26.1 percent of the votes, a new record for the party which in the 2002 election had only managed to gather 15.2 percent of the votes. The election result is historic in being the worst result for the Social Democrats ever (34,6 percent) in a general election with universal suffrage (introduced in 1921) and the best result for the Moderates since 1928.
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". 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.
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.
The Alliance for Sweden received a majority of votes, but not full majority in Parliament. But the fragmented opposition, especially after the entrance of the Sweden Democrats in parliament, the government could continue.
Prime Minister: 2006–2014
Main article: Premiership of Fredrik Reinfeldt
After the election results were clear, the Speaker of the Parliament of Sweden, Björn von Sydow, asked Reinfeldt to form Alliance for Sweden into a coalition government. At a press conference, Reinfeldt commented that "this feels historic in many ways" because it was the first time in years there would be a majority government in Sweden. On 4 October 2006, the new Speaker of the Parliament, Per Westerberg, nominated Reinfeldt to be prime minister. A day later, he was elected in the Riksdag with 175 members voting in support of Reinfeldt and 169 against him succeeding to the prime ministership. The new government assumed office at 12:00 Swedish time on 6 October. At the age of 41, Reinfeldt is the third youngest person to become prime minister after Robert Themptander and Rickard Sandler.
Reinfeldt became President of the European Council on 1 July 2009, as Sweden took over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union from the Czech Republic. His slogan was "taking on the challenge". Reinfeldt immediately requested the European Union to do more to combat climate change. Days earlier, he had been interviewed by Reuters and said he spoke of his worry about increased European public debt. He spoke of his wish for Turkey to join the European Union. He also spoke of his other views, such as his hope that a second term would be possible quickly for the President of the European Commission and his desire that the European Union should not sanction Iran immediately following its election protests.
First term: 2006–2010
The year of 2008 saw the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009, which had major consequences for the Swedish economy. The government received criticism for inaction and to hold hard in finances. In 2010, the crisis was over and when Sweden which proved to overcome the crisis better than other developed countries, this could be highlighted by the government as a force in run-up to 2010 general election.
Second term: 2010–2014
In the 2010 general election, the Moderate Party increased its share of the vote to 30.06%. The Alliance got a majority 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.
The Government received much criticism for being too passive in the face of the financial problems suffered by Saab Automobile but resisted nationalising the factory saying this would mean playing with taxpayers' money. Saab declared bankruptcy in December 2011 but the bankruptcy estate was purchased by the National Electric Vehicle Sweden in May 2012.
For the academic year of 2011/2012, Sweden introduced a package of education reforms with a changed grading system and compulsory history teaching. Reforms were also made to Swedish compulsory schools, introducing the LGR 11 as their new curriculum. This reform meant a change in grading systems even in primary school with grades from year 6, in contrast to earlier year 8.
On 1 January 2012 the controversial restaurant rate of VAT was lowered from 25% to 12%, to match the rate on foodstuffs generally.
Minister for Defence Sten Tolgfors resigned on 29 March 2012 as a result of his involvement in Project Simoom, an arms deal with the government of Saudi Arabia. This affair led to a growing debate on arms sales by Sweden to dictatorships. However, Reinfeldt defended the arms sales citing a high number of newly created jobs.
The Moderate Party has a pro-European Union policy stance—including support for exchanging the Swedish krona for the euro—and also supports Sweden joining NATO. As one of Europe's new conservative leaders, Reinfeldt is seen as an important ally of the United States. His party is a member of the conservative International Democrat Union, together with the Republican Party in the United States and the British Conservative Party, even though its policies are somewhat more liberal than these. During the 2000 United States presidential election, Reinfeldt visited the United States to support the campaign of George W. Bush. Prior to the 2004 United States presidential election, Reinfeldt again expressed his support for Bush. In an interview with the newspaper 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.
Reinfeldt visited Washington, D.C. on 15 May 2007, meeting with President Bush. His trip also included meetings with others, including United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. This is his first visit to the United States since becoming Prime Minister in 2006. Bush and Reinfeldt mostly discussed climate change and free trade, focusing on the Doha Round. He visited President Barack Obama at first the White House and then in the Metropolitan Museum of Art on 23 September 2009.
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.
Reinfeldt has been called a "Swedish David Cameron," insofar as he succeeded in shifting the public perception of the Moderate Party from a right-wing position to a center position in politics. On the other hand he is thought to have influenced Cameron, since Reinfeldt was elected party leader in 2003—two years before Cameron took control of the British Conservative Party in 2005. Reinfeldt has also been described as a communitarian.
In a study by Sifo, a Swedish polling institute, Reinfeldt was the "most admired man in Sweden" in 2006. Reinfeldt's approval rating reached its highest measured point yet in December 2006, at 57% approval in an Aftonbladet/Sifo poll. 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.
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." Regarding his family life, Reinfeldt has cultivated the image of a good family man who enjoys housework.
In 1992, Fredrik Reinfeldt married Filippa Holmberg, who is currently a Moderate Party County Councillor for healthcare issues (Swedish: sjukvårdslandstingsråd) in Stockholm. At present, Reinfeldt has moved into the official residence of the Prime Minister of Sweden, the Sager House, together with his wife and their three children, Ebba, Gustaf and Erik. On 7 March 2012 it became known that the couple had separated. On 11 July 2012 the couple signed their divorce papers with consideration of 6 months. On 20 February 2013 they signed the last papers which conducted their divorce. 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.
During the 2006 election, it was brought to attention that Reinfeldt's paternal great-grandfather, John Reinfeldt, was the illegitimate son of Emma Dorotea Reinfeld, a maid from Eckau in present-day Latvia, and John Hood, an African American circus director from New York. Emma Dorotea Reinfeld later married the Swede Anders Karlsson, but her son Fredrik kept his mother's surname. The spelling was later changed to Reinfeldt. He also has Italian ancestry, via his paternal grandmother.
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.
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.
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- Elmbrant, Björn (2010). Reinfeldt (in Sveriges statsministrar under 100 år (Mats Bergstrand & Per T Ohlsson eds.). Stockholm: Albert Bonniers Förlag. ISBN 978-91-0-011999-7.
- Forstorp, Per-Anders; Palmer, Brian (2006). George W. Reinfeldt: konsten att göra en politisk extreme makeover. Stockholm: Karneval förlag. ISBN 91-976031-4-7.
- Kratz, Anita (2008). Reinfeldt : ensamvargen. Stockholm: Norstedt. ISBN 978-91-1-301948-2.
- Kristofferson, Ulf (2006). Fredrik Reinfeldt – i huvudrollen. Stockholm: Bonnier fakta. ISBN 91-85015-76-8.
- Ljunggren, Stig-Björn (2006). Högern att lita på! : om Fredrik Reinfeldt och de nya moderaterna. Stockholm: Hjalmarson & Högberg. ISBN 91-7224-023-7.
- Wiklund, Mats (2006). En av oss: en bok om Fredrik Reinfeldt. Rimbo: Fischer & Co. ISBN 91-85183-24-5.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Fredrik Reinfeldt.|
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Fredrik Reinfeldt|
- Fredrik Reinfeldt at the Government Offices of Sweden
- Fredrik Reinfeldt at the Parliament of Sweden (Swedish)
- Fredrik Reinfeldt[dead link] at the Moderate Party (Swedish)
|Party political offices|
|Chairperson of the Moderate Youth League
|Chairperson of the Democrat Youth Community of Europe
|New office||Leader of the Youth of the European People's Party
|Leader of the Moderate Party
|Prime Minister of Sweden
|President of the European Council
Herman Van Rompuy
|Order of precedence|
as former Prime Minister
|Swedish order of precedence
as former Prime Minister
as former Marhsal