Wallström: I don’t want the job

EU Commissioner Margot Wallström, the runaway favourite among party members and the public to be Sweden's next Social Democrat leader, has said she does not want the job.

Outgoing prime minister Göran Persson has said he will step down as party leader next March, following the party’s defeat at the polls on Sunday. There is strong pressure within the party for the post to go to a woman.

But in a statement released on Thursday Wallström said that she was pleased to have been shown so much support, “but personally I do not want to run”.

Wallström had long said that she would not stand, but many Social Democrats hoped that she would change her mind after the election.

News agency TT says it understands that Wallström intends her ‘no’ to be a definitive response to the speculation over the party leader job. In other words, this is not a no that will later become a yes if she is approached by the party.

“I would, however, as a Social Democrat and a party member, very much like to participate in the process of renewal that now must be started in our party after the election defeat,” she said. She added that she would now make no further comment on the leadership question.

Her refusal leaves the field wide open. If the party insists on a woman leader, the prime candidates would be outgoing sustainable development minister Mona Sahlin or union leader Wanja Lundby Wedin. International development minister Carin Jämtin and communications minister Ulrica Messing have also been mentioned in connection with the job.

Men mentioned in connection with the job are justice minister Thomas Bodström and finance minister Pär Nuder.

Many of the candidates have the disadvantage that they are not members of the Riksdag – an important platform for opposition leaders. There is, however, no requirement to be a member of the Riksdag to become Social Democrat leader.

Of the candidates mentioned, only Pär Nuder and Mona Sahlin are Riksdag members.