different corner, 23 years later

Sweden’s new foreign minister is Carl Bildt, presentation unnecessary. He is without any doubt the most qualified candidate imaginable. Bildt has had influential contacts in most corners of the world for decades. Such a foreign minister will strengthen Sweden’s voice and restore some of the credibility we’ve lost over the years. Beside star-quality and international fame he brings experience from a long political life and most importantly from three years leading a government during a difficult period.

The main argument against Bildt as foreign minister is that being former Prime Minister and party leader he is simply too strong for a ministerial position, particularly when the PM-elect is a relatively young and unproven man like Reinfeldt. I agree and this is precisely why I didn’t think Bildt would be chosen or – for that matter – that he would accept. Now he is and he has and we’ll have to trust the parties to manage their relations. Second-guessing without really knowing the inner circles won’t do any good.

One interesting observation about Bildt is that after a life in or near Swedish politics he has crossed the stage from one side to the other.

In the early eighties the young opposition politician Bildt infuriated Olof Palme by discussing foreign matters abroad, particularly Swedish-Soviet relations and suspicions of red submarines penetrating our defenses. Palme even took the unprecedented step to have his entire government formally condemn Bildt’s foreign activities. No ambitious politician was allowed to compete with Palme on the international scene and particularly not someone from the Moderate party. Bildt should stay away from foreign matters.

Almost a quarter of a century later Carl Bildt finds himself in a position where we hope that he will concentrate exclusively on foreign matters and stay away from domestic issues where he most likely doesn’t always agree with the new party course of Reinfeldt and where he might create confusion, undermining Reinfeldt’s leadership.

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