One in three Social Democrats wants Persson out

One in three Social Democrat voters want prime minister Göran Persson to step down as party leader, a new poll has revealed.

Less than three months before the election, Persson commands the support of 59 percent of Social Democrats, according to the survey of just over 1,000 people conducted by Sifo on behalf of Swedish Radio.

The view that Persson should quit is more common among women than men, and most common in the 50-64 age group.

The news is the second blow this week for Persson, whose dominant leadership style has earned him the nickname ‘He who decides’ (Han som bestämmer).

On Wednesday a report from the Society, Opinion and Media (SOM) Institute at Gothenburg University declared that Persson is clearly less popular than the pretender to his throne, the Moderates’ leader Fredrik Reinfeldt.

But Professor Sören Holmberg pointed out that the support for Social Democrat leaders has a tendency to improve in the final push of the election campaign.

“Both our measurements and those in the past indicate that it will be a close election this year,” said Holmberg to TT.

The SOM research was carried out at the end of last year, but Professor Holmberg said that more recent opinion polls backed up his findings.

Fredrik Reinfeldt earned the most plaudits when interviewees were asked to indicate how much they liked or disliked the various party leaders, while the leader of the Left Party, Lars Ohly, was at the bottom of the popularity table.

Of those interviewed by Holmberg and his colleagues, 37 percent said that they think the government is doing a poor job. That is a considerable increase on five years ago, before the last election, when only 17% were dissatisfied with the government’s performance.

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