New boss for Christian Democrats

On Saturday, amid applause, flowers and tears, Alf Svensson stood down as leader of the Christian Democrats after 31 years. He told DN: "A party leader is like the conductor of an orchestra - you must hold all the sections together and make sure that those sitting on the right don't play louder than those on the left, and vice-versa."

Unfortunately Svensson’s band has been playing duff notes, and the new leader, Göran Hägglund, may have to change the tune. According to a poll released on Monday, the Christian Democrats have lost a third of their voters since the 2002 election. 50% of those have switched their support to the Moderates.

Nevertheless, DN believes the party faithful are undeterred. “The message is that after the 2006 election there will be a new Göran running the country. If the praise is to be believed, the party has elected a brilliant, intelligent, humorous, competent, skilful leader.” He’ll need more than that, though – the Christian Democrats currently hold only 33 out of 349 seats in parliament.

Usually Hägglund would be able count on the support of the traditionalists – those who have backed the party’s opposition to homosexual marriage, for example. But the Young Christian Democrats leadership election in a fortnight may put off even the most loyal older voters. The favourite, Erik Slottner, is gay.