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Sweden reacts to Thatcher's death

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Sweden reacts to Thatcher's death
18:22 CEST+02:00
Swedish reactions to the death on Monday of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, 87, ranged from celebratory to lumping her together with former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

"She was an ideologue among pragmatists," Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt told the TT news agency.

"Like many others, I was impressed by her strength, how she stuck to her principles, and by how well-informed she was."

Reinfeldt, whose Moderate Party has long had a kinship with Thatcher's Conservative Party, theorized that Thatcher's most lasting legacy may have been inspiring Tony Blair to makeover the opposition Labour Party.

Reinfeldt also praised Thatcher for being "the first female leader in a male-dominated world", adding that her legacy as UK prime minister was also marked by the end of the Cold War.

"The Berlin Wall fell at the end of her time in office, that's something one must consider when measuring her achievements and how she acted," Reinfeldt told Expressen.

While expressing his admiration for Thatcher, who ruled Britain from 1979 until 1990, Reinfeldt admitted that he didn't share her scepticism about European integration and the European Union.

Thatcher refuses to jump for Swedish journalist Stina Dabrowski in a 1995 interview

European Affairs Minister Birgitta Ohlsson of the Liberal Party (Folkpartiet) took to Facebook to hail Thatcher's pioneering role for women in politics.

"R.I.P. Margaret Thatcher was the first female government head in the western world in 1979. As a woman with power she was a true pioneer in Europe," wrote Ohlsson.

Centre Party leader Annie Lööf also paid tribute to Thatcher, who died following a stroke after suffering several years of ill-health.

"Margaret Thatcher was a strong and a controversial politician. A colourful woman has left us," Lööf wrote on her official Twitter account.

Meanwhile, former Social Democrat Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson, who governed Sweden toward the end of Thatcher's time in office and visited her in London on an official visit, chose to remember her personal qualities

"She was quite charming and a person brimming with humour. There was a Margaret Thatcher with warmth and humour and I'm glad I was able to experience that."

However, Stig Malm, former head of Sweden's powerful trade union confederation, was less flattering in remembering the "Iron Lady", as Thatcher was frequently called. He grouped her together with Chile's former dictator Augusto Pinochet and Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman, whose theories inspired many of Thatcher's market-oriented economic policies.

"They played a very large part and reoriented politics across the globe. Those of us who weren't conservative were made to suffer a great deal because of it," he told TT.

"She had decided to make unions as small as possible. She pushed a very, very conservative policy, and if you like that, then perhaps you like her; and if you don't, then you don't like her."

Swedish political scientist Gunnela Björk of Örebro University in central Sweden, who recently penned a biography on Thatcher, said that her policies continue to have a huge influence across Europe.

"Great Britain and Margaret Thatcher became something of a model for how problems should be solved in many European countries, even in Sweden," Björk told TT.

"It's primarily in connection with the 2008 financial crisis that people have started to question the concept."

TT/The Local/dl

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