Persson reflects on election defeat in new book

Göran Persson has blamed internal wranglings over property tax for the Social Democrats' election defeat in 2006, Aftonbladet reports. In a new book released today, the former prime minister also reveals how tensions once ran high between his potential successors, Pär Nuder and Anna Lindh.

Persson reflects on election defeat in new book

Returning to the end of his reign, Persson felt it was his inability to engage in a behind the scenes battle with Nuder that eventually lost him the election.

Speaking at the annual political gathering at Almedalan in the summer of 2006, Persson wanted to announce a property tax freeze. But his finance minister advised against the move, encouraging him instead to talk about welfare and justice issues. Somewhat reluctantly, Persson took Nuder’s advice.

“That was probably one of my biggest mistakes in the 2006 election campaign. But I just didn’t have the energy to ride roughshod over my third finance minister on this issue,” Persson is reported to have written in the book, ‘Min väg, mina väl’ (‘My way, my choices’).

As for Anna Lindh, until her assassination in 2003 Persson was convinced that she would succeed him as party leader. He also felt that she shared this view, all of which meant that she was furious when Nuder was chosen to make a high profile speech in the run-up to the EMU referendum, which eventually took place just three days after her death.

A few days after Nuder’s speech, Lindh left a message on Persson’s answering machine.

“Don’t you think it’s enough that we have an EMU battle within the party? Are we to have a leadership battle too?”

But Persson was also quick to praise both Nuder and Lindh for maintaining their professionalism despite the apparent tensions between them.

During his ten years as prime minister, Persson said he was close to resigning on a number of occasion. After just one year in the post, he had already “had enough”. He felt the same way after the 2002 general election.

“I was exhausted after a long election campaign. I had terrible hip pain and was going through a divorce. I’d had enough. I wanted to resign.”