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Björklund nominated as Liberal leader

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Björklund nominated as Liberal leader
14:57 CEST+02:00
Schools Minister Jan Björklund looks certain to become the Liberal Party's next leader, after the party's nominations committee unanimously recommended him for the post.

If elected by the party's national conference in September, Björklund, 45, will take a central role in forming the direction of Sweden's Alliance government. The Liberals are the third largest of the four governing parties - smaller than the Moderate and Centre parties, but larger than the Christian Democrats.

The nomination of Björklund, a former army major, had been widely expected. Most local party districts have already declared their support for him. Not all members of the party will be happy with the prospect of a Björklund leadership. He is seen to represent the more right-wing, hard-edged section of the party.

A major focus of Björklund's has been education, both in local and national government. He was a education spokesman for his party on Stockholm City Council until becoming schools minister last year.

Björklund is associated with policies demanding extra emphasis be placed on assessment in schools, and he has attacked the Swedish schools system for not having a proper grip on discipline. In other policy areas, Björklund supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and urged Swedish participation.

The son of a Norwegian war refugee mother and a textile store-owner father, Björklund was born in Skene, western Sweden. He is married with two children and lives in Bromma, a suburb of Stockholm.

Björklund will succeed Lars Leijonborg, who resigned in April after ten years in office. Leijonborg's leadership had come under attack following a fall in the party's share of the vote in September's general election.

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