Swedish PM’s private birthday parties financed with taxpayer money

Sweden Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson speaks at an event in support of tripling global nuclear capacity by 2050 at the COP28 U.N. Climate Summit, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
By Dénes Albert
4 Min Read

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson hosted two birthday parties in January at the expense of the Swedish taxpayer, with critics also pointing out he is often absent from the office, including during his recent two-week trip to South America.

The first birthday party was held in great secrecy at the prime minister’s residence on Saturday, with 60 to 70 guests, while the second on Wednesday had some 365 guests. The cost of the reception for the 60-year-old prime minister was not disclosed by his office, but it was confirmed that it would be paid for from the prime minister’s budget — in other words, with taxpayer money.

The Aftonbladet newspaper described the prime minister’s birthday party on Saturday at the prime minister’s residence, Sagerska Huset, as the most secret party of the year. This is the only media outlet to have covered the event, which was attended by a number of politicians and well-known people.

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Among the guests was a former prime minister, Carl Bildt, who told a reporter outside the entrance that he was not there for a birthday party but for a reception; other guests told the paper what birthday present they had brought.

A celebration on a much larger scale took place on Wednesday evening at the Rosenbad, the prime minister’s official state residence, to which many well-known people, politicians, ambassadors, clergy, and business and civil society representatives were invited.

The actual cost of the lavish birthday event was not disclosed by the Prime Minister’s Office, but it was confirmed that it was “within the limits of the prime minister’s role” and an official event, and therefore the costs would be covered by the Prime Minister’s Office.

Trip to South America

Although Kristersson had his 60th birthday on Dec. 29, the party could not be held because he was not in Sweden, as he was celebrating with his family on a 10-day trip to South America. The prime minister himself previously said that someone in his role could only be physically away from Stockholm for a maximum of seven days, yet he traveled to Uruguay and Argentina for two weeks.

“My family loves to travel, and we have been talking about South America for many years since none of us have been there. It was a dream that my business-savvy wife decided to make come true. So it’s a joint birthday present,” he said about the trip.

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During his 16-month tenure, the prime minister has repeatedly been criticized, by both the press and internal political circles, because he is often away from his office. In September, for example, he was ferried in a horse-drawn carriage at the wedding of a well-known Swedish musician, E-Type. This occurred during an especially brutal period of gang warfare in the country, primarily in Stockholm.

The country is not only plagued by rampant violent crime, but also the economic crisis. In the third quarter of last year, Sweden was 25th out of the 27 EU economies in terms of GDP growth, with an annual contraction of -1.4 percent. The unemployment rate is also set to rise, according to forecasts, to 8.7 percent.

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