Sigtuna’s prominent figure Olov Holst (M) is accused of power tactics and bullying. In an audio recording obtained by Aftonbladet, he makes offensive remarks about Minister of Culture Parisa Liljestrand, who was on a study visit to the municipality. The politics in Sigtuna are in complete chaos. The governance has collapsed, a political official has resigned on the spot, and two others have sought counseling. The anger is directed towards Municipal Council Chairman Olov Holst (M), who is accused of having a destructive leadership style. This perception is not shared by Holst and the Moderates. The accusations revolve around power tactics, attacks, and sarcastic comments. According to Johan Stomberg, the chairman of the Center Party in the municipality, it is primarily women who have been affected. ”It has been a problem since 2018 when we started our collaboration. No one in the Moderates has taken action to improve it, and now it has reached a limit,” says Stomberg.
The limit was that the Center Party and the Liberals issued an ultimatum to the Moderates: replace Olov Holst or we will leave the collaboration. The demand was not heeded, and the coalition collapsed. ”This is not something we win on; on the contrary, we lose by leaving the collaboration. We are only doing this out of concern for the health of our party representatives,” says Stomberg. In the aftermath of the chaos, a compilation of examples of Holst’s behavior has been compiled by individuals in the municipality. One incident involves Minister of Culture Parisa Liljestrand (M), who visited Sigtuna in May 2022. At the time, she was the Municipal Council Chairman in the neighboring municipality of Vallentuna. When Liljestrand was not in earshot, Holst allegedly spoke about her exercise habits and wondered how she could have muscle soreness in her legs when she exercises six days a week. ”She has one day of rest per week. Maybe she does squats in the cucumber field,” says Holst. The phrase ”doing squats in the cucumber field” was interpreted by those present as inserting a cucumber into the genital area.
Aftonbladet has obtained an audio recording of the statement and has asked politicians in the municipality to confirm that it is Holst’s voice on the recording. ”It is Olov Holst on the recording, I can confirm that. I can also confirm that I have heard sexist jokes from him many times during our time together. I am extremely glad not to have to be part of something that normalizes sexism,” says Gill Brodin, the Center Party’s group leader in Sigtuna. The former chairman of the Christian Democrats, who recently left politics, confirms that Holst has a history of sexist comments, something he says he raised personally with him. ”I cannot comment on what is happening now, but it is true that I have raised this with him before,” says Karsten Bjärbo (KD). However, he has no knowledge of the statement concerning Liljestrand.
Another politician from the Liberals, Rein Lallo, confirms that Holst has had a problematic leadership style and that was what made them leave the coalition. ”This is something that has been going on for many years, a destructive leadership that needs to be stopped. These are power tactics and bullying; people feel so bad that they can’t do a good job, and it affects their daily lives,” he says. Aftonbladet has contacted Olov Holst, but he does not want to be interviewed. ”I am in a meeting right now, and I will not comment on this issue. Our chairman Mattias Askerson will,” says Holst. Aftonbladet has unsuccessfully tried to reach Mattias Askerson (M). In an article in Dagens Samhälle, he says, ”We do not recognize the description of the chairman of the Municipal Council. Our perception is that the basis for the resignations is a conflict that has arisen around a lack of responsibility regarding the situation in the municipality’s schools.”
Aftonbladet has contacted Parisa Liljestrand, but she declines to comment.
Political chaos in Sigtuna: Last week, the Liberals and the Center Party announced that they are leaving the collaboration in the municipality. They were previously part of a coalition with the Moderates, the Christian Democrats, and the local party Samling för Sigtuna. In a press release, the Liberals and the Center Party stated that the reason for their departure was the leadership of Municipal Council Chairman Olov Holst (M). The Moderates have a completely different view and believe that the Liberals’ and the Center Party’s departure is due to a conflict over the situation in the municipality’s schools. Read more.