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12:53 CET+01:00
Faced with the choice of sitting next to Social Democrat Prime Minister Göran Persson or opposition leader Fredrik Reinfeldt at a party, most Swedes wouls choose Reinfeldt, a new poll shows.

Asked which of the candidates for prime minister they would like to sit next to at a party, nearly 60 percent of a representative sample of 985 Swedes said that they would choose Reinfeldt.

The poll did not allow respondents to pick the leader of a minor party, nor were respondents given the option of saying they'd prefer to spend a night in front of the TV.

Polling company Skop has been recording opinions on the popularity of the leaders for some time, and the Right's challenger sailed past the Social Democrat prime minister at the end of last year.

The turning point came at the tsunami catastrophe in South East Asia on December 26th last year. Throughout 2005 a majority has preferred Reinfeldt to Persson.

Last December Persson had a lead over Reinfeldt, with 53.7 percent to 46.3. One month later Reinfeldt had taken the lead, with 51.3 percent.

Since then, the challenger has extended his lead – in April/May he was preferred by 59.1 percent of those questioned. Persson recovered some ground in the summer, taking Reinfeldt down to 56 percent, but Reinfeldt has since regained the momentum, and in the latest poll was preferred by 58.7 percent of respondents.

TT/The Local

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