“After more than four decades in politics and twenty election and referendum campaigns, I want to do something different. I have decided that I do not want to gather my strength for a twenty-first election campaign. I am thus not going to stand in the 2010 election and it is therefore natural that I should leave the government at this point,” said Leijonborg in the statement.
The minister will formally leave his post as soon as a replacement is found.
According to education ministry spokesperson Anders Andrén, a replacement for Leijonborg is expected to be chosen “around Midsummer”.
“I am proud of what I have achieved in my years as a minister. The 2008 Research Bill contained by far the largest investment in research ever seen in Sweden. The 13 billion kronor ($1.7 billion) European Spallation Source in Lund will be one of Europe’s biggest research facilities and will give a major boost to Swedish research,” Leijonborg continued.
“The Globalization Council’s final report contains a range of important proposals that have been well received. I am grateful to Jan Björklund that I have had an opportunity to accomplish these tasks, among others. I have greatly valued the cooperation with my colleagues in the government and Fredrik Reinfeldt’s leadership over the last few years.”
Leijonborg was Liberal Party (Folkpartiet) leader from 1997 to 2007 and was originally named education minister when the centre-right Alliance government came to power in 2006.
But his tenure as party leader ended as the Liberals struggled to overcome a scandal in which a member of the party’s youth wing had gained access to the Social Democrats’ internal computer network, allowing him to pass along confidential information to senior Liberal Party staff members.
The spying controversy, which came to light days before the September 2006 elections, was seen as one of the reasons why the Liberals’ share of the vote dropped to 7.5 percent from 13.4 percent in 2002.
After being ousted as party leader in April 2007, Leijonborg later accepted a demotion to research and higher education minister within the government, allowing for newly named Liberal leader Björklund to assume the more prestigious education minister post.
Born in Solna outside of Stockholm in 1949, Leijonborg first made his name in politics when, at the age of 20, he was elected as chair of the Liberals’ youth wing.
His career received new life in the late 1970s when he became a press secretary, first in the education ministry, and then in the labour ministry.
In 1980, Leijonborg was named party secretary and in 1990 he became the Liberals’ vice chair.