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Sahlin prepares Social Democrats handover

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08:03 CET+01:00
Mona Sahlin is set to open the Social Democrat extra congress on Friday, her last speech as chairperson of the party before handing over to new leader Håkan Juholt, as polls show the party remains far behind.

Sahlin is set to take the stand at 1.30pm to open the congress which is expected to formally rubber-stamp the election of Håkan Juholt as its new leader. The vote to confirm his appointment will take place at 4.45pm.

The congress with continue until Sunday and during the weekend Carin Jämtin is expected to be appointed as new party secretary.

The highlight of the weekend will be the inaugural speech by Juholt in which the relatively unknown Social Democrat will present his vision for how the party will address its slide and attempt to regain its place at the head of Swedish politics.

A new poll published on Friday indicated that Juholt has a lot of work ahead with his appointment having had no affect on the party's support.

The Synovate's survey for March, published in the Dagens Nyheter daily, showed that the Social Democrats remain at record lows, with 29.9 percent of voter support, a climb of 0.9 percentage points on February.

The poll showed that the Alliance government coalition parties claimed a total of 49.3 percent of voter support, down 2.6 points, with the red-green opposition bloc claiming 44.1 percent, a rise of 1.8 points.

The Sweden Democrats meanwhile recovered 1.1 percentage points to rest on 5.7 percent - the party's showing at the September general election.

Niklas Källebring of Synovate told Dagens Nyheter that any effect of Håkan Juholt's election as leader will depend on how he handles being the centre of political attention this weekend.

"If there is to be a quick opinion-rate effect it will depend on how well he handles the attention he will get when he is elected," he said.

Another survey, completed by Sifo for the Göteborgs-Posten daily, shows that nearly half of the Swedish electorate (49 percent) believe that Juholt is unable to turn the party around, win the next election and form a government. 29 percent predict that he can win, while 22 percent said they did not know or are undecided.

Social Democrat voters are also uncertain that Juholt is the person for the job with only 52 percent considering him an election winner, with every fourth voter responding that they believe he is not.

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