Leif Pagrotsky, born 20 October 1951 in Gothenburg, is a Swedish Social Democratic politician who had various posts in the government of Göran Persson between 1996 and 2006.
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I've been the Consul General of Sweden in New York since 2015. It's my job to promote Sweden when it comes to trade and investment, culture and the arts. My office also provides consular services to the Swedish community in our district (nine states in northwestern U.S.) I'm a former social democratic politician and economist, and I held several cabinet-level ministerial positions in the Swedish Government 1996-2006. You can connect with me on Twitter @leifpagrotsky, Facebook @Pagrotsky, and Instagram @Pagrotsky
You can start posting your questions right now! Starting at 11 am EST, I’ll answer them!
Thanks so much for your questions! I really enjoyed answering them. To learn more about the work of the Consulate, please follow us on:
Many years ago I listened to you talk at my school. You talked about how underestimated the "gråsosse" was. To go slow and be careful and not trust fast and easy solutions. Today we have a media climate that seems to value extreme opinions, easy solutions, bickering, and name calling. How can we move from that to a media climate that value in-depth analysis, intellectual honesty, and carefully planned solutions even if they are difficult to understand?
Thanks for remembering my visit to your school a long time ago! My views haven't changed on that issue, but what to do about it?
This is a billion dollar question. I wish I knew. What do you think?
Trump Claims he has/is restoring America's prestige around the world. I have seen some polls from Europe that have him below Putin in terms of favorability and respect. Do those polls seem accurate, or has he restored America's image?
Polls are more reliable than my personal impression as I don't live in Europe.
How did you experience being against the official party line in the Euro Referendum of 2003?
It was very tough in the Cabinet meetings but the opposite among people outside.
Norway is superior in regards of having a better neighbor than Sweden. :p
Yes, that's the best answer to Ukvemsord's question.
How have the current politics of both the US and Brexit impacted Sweden (in regard to trade/trade laws), and more particularly, how have they impacted your role?
The effect so far has been in the form of worries and uncertainties about the future, but I don't think it has had an impact on reality yet.
The alternative-right have created a narrative of Sweden being on the verge of collapse due to muslims. I am sure that with your role you often get confronted with this perspective.
How do you refute this false narrative when you come across it?
Do ordinary Swedes know about this narrative? If so, what has the reaction been in Sweden?
Ordinary Swedes don't know about the fake narrative that Sweden is on the verge of collapse, and would not recognize it if they knew about it. The reality is so different that such statements sound absurd to us. Sweden is in good shape, the economy grows twice as fast as that of the US, employment is the highest in Europe and growing, crime rates are on a level Americans can only dream of, the budget and foreign trade are both in very big surpluses. If that's called a collapse, I suppose many countries would vote for it.
Whats your opinion of the Eurovision?Is it fixed or not?
Whats the hardest decision you made in government?
Have you ever wanted to punch a person you worked with a why?
I think it’s an exciting contest and great entertainment if you don’t take it too seriously. The final vote count is a real nail biter and it engages hundreds of millions of people in forty or fifty countries. I like the idea that so many people come together irrespective of country or language around the same music. I don't think it's fixed.
Whether to keep my beard or not. My bosses, the Prime Minister and my partner, were both opposed to it but I have persisted and here I am. Another tough fight was to push through a decision to open all of EU's borders for all imports from the world's poorest countries. Many countries were dead against but we succeeded.
I'd like to save this answer for my autobiography.
Why did Sweden discontinue it's "Call a Random Swede" campaign? I thought it was brilliant.
Maybe the brilliance was that it was limited? I called once and it was great fun. I tried to sign up to be one of the responders but I was rejected because I had an American number.
What are the biggest problems you face at your work?
The air conditioning. It gets very hot in here and it's hard to concentrate.
1) What did you come here hoping people would ask you about?
2) What did you come here hoping people wouldn't ask you about?
Nice, friendly and easy questions.
Difficult and hostile questions.
What was your secret for attending all the events that was going on in Gothenburg?
How much time do you spend in NYC vs Sweden?
95% in the United States, 5% in Sweden this year.
How is the Blodsoppa in NYC? Any great Swedish restaurants or grocery stores there you would recommend?
Soup made of blood? Are you kidding me? I wouldn't dream of trying any Blodsoppa, it sounds appalling to me.
There are several great Swedish restaurants in New York, Red Rooster in Harlem, Aquavit in midtown Manhattan and Aska in Williamsburg Brooklyn. They are not cheap but really great. I also like Fika NYC for a break and a cinnamon bun with real coffee.
Red rooster isn't a Swedish restaurant it's just run by a swede! They serve soul food.
I recognize many of the flavors. Fun fact: Marcus Samulesson and I grew up in the same suburb.
What do the Swedish think of the Muslim immigration?
Taler du svenska?
I think most Swedes feel that we should offer protection for people that are persecuted. It's their needs, not religion that should decide.
What lessons do you think the US could take from Sweden about promoting the arts?
Offer every child in school the opportunity to learn how to play an instrument for free.
Do you think Sweden should join EMU?
No. The experience of the first 18 years scares me.
What is the most northern part of Sweden you have been to? What is the most northern part that is relatively accessible and affordable to travel to?
The Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi is the northernmost place in Sweden I've been to, and its not so difficult to reach by car or plane, although it's very far away.
But I've been even further north in Norway! Svalbard is three hours by plane further north, go there if you ever have a chance!
Good point. thanks for the answer :)
Is a consul general the same as an ambassador?
Almost, Ambassador is the title of the chiefs of Swedish missions in capitals or in international organizations like the UN. Consul Generals are located in other important cities like New York, Istanbul, Hong Kong, etc.
Hello. Mr. Pagrotsky. I am interested in scientific research in Sweden. What are the fields that Sweden has excelled in? Is there room to grow? If a scientist wants to go to Sweden either to immigrate or do collaborative research for a period of time, or maybe teach, what are the steps one could take? I have been to the Stockholm Water Week, and it was a fantastic event.
The first step is to visit:
Many programs are available in English at every university. Welcome!
Can you comment on how tall you are? My father and I saw you last year at "En kväll i New York" at the Apollo Theater and remarked that you are a bit shorter than our 6ft selves.
I'm 5'3 ft (161 cm).
F.., marry, kill: Sweden, Finland, Norway?
I say I'd marry them all, I'm a polygamist!