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Reinfeldt most popular party leader

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13:17 CET+01:00
The Moderate Party's Fredrik Reinfeldt is the leader in whom the Swedish public has the greatest confidence. For the first time his ratings have climbed above those of prime minister Göran Persson, who is less popular now than at any time since September 2000.

According to a survey by Dagens Nyheter and Temos, 36% of the public say they have "very great confidence" or "great confidence" in Reinfeldt. This has increased by 3% since August 2004.

"It feels very good to go into an election campaign backed up by such good figures," the Moderates' party secretary, Sven Otto Littorin, told Expressen.

"This is the result of a modern style of leadership. Fredrik has a combination of humility and strength."

During the same time period, the proportion of the public saying they have confidence in Göran Persson has fallen from 38% to 32%. While the fall could be seen as a result of the ongoing criticism of the government's handling of the tsunami catastrophe in Asia, the slide is part of a trend that has seen Persson's popularity almost halved since March 2002.

Indeed, the only rise in Persson's personal ratings since then came in September 2003, following the murder of foreign minister and close friend of the prime minister, Anna Lindh. Then, said DN, the public was demonstrating its support of politicians.

Fredrik Reinfeldt enjoys unmatched support among his own party members and 64% of opposition voters said they have confidence in him.

Temos spokesman Arne Modig told DN that other former party leaders, such as the Christian Democrats' Alf Svensson and the Left Party's Gudrun Schyman, have been more popular than Reinfeldt - but not after barely a year in the job.

"A high confidence rating for the party leader doesn't automatically increase voter support for the party," said Modig. "But it gives increased self-confidence and means that it's easier for the party leader to reach out to the voters."

The other opposition leaders' ratings fell. Only 26% of the public said they have confidence in the Liberal Party's Lars Leijonborg - the lowest since the party was formed in 2002. Six months ago the Centre Party's Maud Olofsson was the third most-trusted politician behind Persson and Reinfeldt, but she has now fallen behind Leijonborg with a rating of 25%.

Expressen noted that the results of this survey make Fredrik Reinfeldt increasingly likely to be the conservative alliance's candidate for prime minister.

"Although if I'm honest, that's always been the case," said the Moderates' Sven Otto Littorin.

The least popular party leader is still the Christian Democrats' Göran Hägglund. Only 11% of Swedes say they have confidence in him.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Expressen

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