Sweden’s strongman ponders premature exitSweden’s strongman ponders premature exit
Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson may not go forward as Social Democratic leader before the party conference in October. Persson, who has seen his party lose ground in polls to the right-wing opposition in recent months, said he was deliberating whether to step down as party chairman in the fall. ‘I shall make up my mind when we come to the party congress,’ he told reporters. Persson, who has a reputation as a charismatic, tough-minded strongman in Swedish politics, has faced increased criticism for his government’s handling of the Asian tsunami disaster, which affected thousands of Swedish tourists, and for failing to fight back unemployment. Since he became prime minister in 1996, Persson has struggled to rein in government spending and deal with a large national debt while improving the country’s welfare system and reducing unemployment. While some political commentators hurried to point out candidates to replace him, others stated that Persson’s comments were only a part of a scheme to regain control over his party and silence his critics.
Barrage of bad poll news for Persson
Göran Persson is set to spend Easter weekend wallowing in a torrent of bad opinion poll news. In addition to another opinion poll showing that the centre-right opposition has overtaken the government. In addition, half of trade union members and a majority of voters think that he should resign before the 2006 election. In a poll by Skop, 49.2 percent of those questioned said that they would vote for one of the four right-wing parties, whereas 48.2 percent favoured the Social Democrats and their allies. The big winner was Lars Leijonborg’s Liberal Party, which saw its share of support rise by almost three points to 16.4 percent.