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Persson slams Sahlin and Bildt in new documentary

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13:11 CET+01:00
Monday evening sees the first installment of a long-awaited four part documentary about Sweden's former Prime Minister Göran Persson .

Advance reports suggest that Persson is caustic in his criticism of Mona Sahlin , his successor as Social Democrat party leader. Carl Bildt , Sweden's current foreign minister and former prime minister, is also on the receiving end of Persson's invective.

The documentary project has been shrouded in controversy ever since it emerged in 2002 that television journalist Erik Fichtelius had been interviewing Persson five to six times per year since 1996.

Fichtelius was a commentator on domestic politics for national broadcaster SVT at the time, and an agreement was drawn up whereby none of the material could be shown until Persson had left office. But Fichtelius could use information gleaned from Persson if he made sure not to reveal his source.

Many analysts, as well as the Prime Minister's political opponents, accused Fichtelius of overstepping ethical boundaries, while Persson was slammed for exercising control over SVT.

The incident resulted in Fichtelius being reported to the Swedish Broadcasting Commission and Persson facing a parliamentary constitutional committee. Both were eventually cleared but Fichtelius decided to give up his job as a political commentator to instead become manager of news programme 24 Direkt.

Working with a cameraman and an editor, Fichtelius gathered around 100 hours of interview material, all of which is to be made available for research purposes after the four-hour documentary has been broadcast.

"It feels good but I'm also a bit nervous. I hope people will appreciate it," said Fichtelius.

Whatever the verdict of the viewing public, Mona Sahlin is unlikely to appreciate her predecessor's assessment of her intellect.

"Her strength lies not in thinking but in her ability to get a message across," said Persson in 1997.

"She is attributed with a greater political capacity than she actually possesses," he added.

If Persson is unkind about Sahlin, he is positively scathing when it comes to the current foreign minister.

"Bildt is so bloody bad. I wonder where he's going to go and what he's going to do? I pity him," said Persson in 1999.

Part 1 of the documentary will be shown on Monday at 8pm on SVT 1.

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