Hunt for Persson’s successor begins

The woman who has been tasked with finding a successor to Göran Persson was revealed by the Social Democrats on Saturday. Lena Hjelm-Wallén, who in the 1990s was Sweden's foreign minister and deputy prime minister, is to be the chairman of the party's election committee.

“What we’re going to do is put together a wish list of what a party leader should be able to do and what qualities are the most important right now,” said Hjelm-Wallén to TT.

She declined to go into what those qualities will be, since she still has not spoken to the other ten members of the election committee – which consists of six women and five men nominated by the country’s party districts.

“But what I can say is that it must be someone who can pull the party together and get our message out. It must also be a person who enthuses and leads.”

The fact that there is no clear successor to Göran Persson following the Social Democrats’ election defeat in September means that a whole series of names are being bandied about.

Thomas Bodström, Carin Jämtin, Wanja Lundby-Wedin, Ulrica Messing, Pär Nuder, Mona Sahlin, Margot Wallström and Thomas Östros – all former ministers except Lundby-Wedin, who is the head of trade union organisation LO – have all been mentioned. But according to Hjelm-Wallén, the election committee will not work that way.

“Since at first glance there are a lot of possible candidates it’s very important that we establish a profile for the candidate. Then we can find the person who best fits the profile,” she said.

Lena Hjelm-Wallén added that it will not be hard to find candidates for the job.

“But one must remember that it is a very serious and responsible job to be party leader.”

Party secretary Marita Ulvskog followed the same line on Saturday when she met the press after the election committee announcement.

“It’s important that you have a party leader who can listen and lead – and who can handle it.”

But she refused to name a favourite for the job.

“I have no intention of doing that in public. This is about choosing whoever is most suitable and making sure that they have as broad a support as possible,” she said.