Socialist leader buys animal farm

How Orwell would have chuckled. Socialist Prime Minister Göran Persson was all over last weekend's front pages, announcing himself and his wife Anitra Steen as the proud new owners of a farm in Sörmland.

The property, which is situated between Malmköping and Gnesta (if ever you’re in the area and short of eggs), cost SEK12.5 million and comes with 190 hectares of pasture, a forest and a lake.

While the papers didn’t forget that the reason he failed to attend the memorial for the victims of the Madrid bombings was because he was, erm, visiting a farm in Sörmland, most of them seemed to be too amused by the thought of Farmer Persson to dwell on it.

Expressen used an exclusive interview with the prime minister to ask such questions as “will you have animals?” (he will) and “will you milk the cows?” (he won’t), before drumming up a few local estate agents to praise Persson for getting a good deal on the place.

Sunday’s Aftonbladet pointed out that “a popular way for the rich to avoid the wealth tax is to invest in land” and wondered what the voters would think of the leader’s investment. But voters may not be Persson’s priority for very much longer: “In five years – maybe less – I will be living there, enjoying nature’s seasons, the fresh air and the clear water.”

Meanwhile, Tuesday’s Svenska Dagbladet reported that owners of small houses in Stockholm are facing a massive rise in the price of their gardens – many of which are leased to them by Stockholm Council. From May 24th, the average monthly rental will increase by 50%, while the cost of buying the land outright will double.