(July 2011) In March 2011 the Swedish parliament voted to reject government plans to sell shares in state-owned companies.
The centre-right government, which does not have an overall majority, proposed to sell shares in the electricity company Vattenfall, the mortgage provider SBAB, the postal service provider Posten (jointly owned with the Danish government), and the telecom group TeliaSonera (which is 37% state-owned, following an earlier partial privatisation). Following a strong public campaign by trade unions and others, the opposition parties combined to defeat the government.
The government had sold shares in a number of companies, including Telia Sonera, in 2008, but the recession made further sales difficult until this year. It still intends to sell shares in Nordea bank (of which it still owns 13%) and the airline SAS (of which it owns 21%), which were not covered by the vote in March.
The government and the management of Posten Norden have stated that they will continue to operate as though the company will be privatised, arguing that the privatisation plans were agreed with the Danish government, but the Swedish parliament’s constitutional unit will review whether the government is entitled to do this.
The services union SEKO, an EPSU affiliate with 50,000 members in the companies concerned, welcomed the news saying that continued state ownership was the best way of guaranteeing proper regulation and long-term investment in these sectors.
• Global Insight, 17 March 2011: "First Policy Defeat for Swedish Government as MPs Oppose Privatisation Plan"
• Dagens Industri, 29 March 2011: "Denmark/Sweden: Posten Norden agreement faces parliamentary criticism"