On Wednesday, Dagens Nyheter (DN) released the results of an Ipsos poll showing that 45 percent of Moderate voters want Bildt to replace outgoing leader Anna Kinberg Batra – a huge lead on the next favourite among the centre-right party’s followers, former Finance Minister Anders Borg, who was backed by 12 percent.
When the opinions of all voters regardless of party sympathies were taken into account, Bildt was also the most popular with 26 percent, echoing the results of a previous poll by Aftonbladet earlier in the week. The next most popular among all voters was Mikael Odenberg, with seven percent.
But despite the evidence of his enduring popularity, Bildt broke his silence on the subject on Wednesday evening, telling Expressen in a live interview that Kinberg Batra’s replacement should be someone for the future, and that he would help the party in a different way.
Bildt was probed further by a group of journalist on his way out of the Dagens Nyheter Tower following the interview, and while he initially managed to parry their questions, the former PM's attempt to escape the lobby by going through its revolving doors ended in him being trapped inside with journalists, then finally begrudgingly elaborating on his decision.
He later joked about it on Twitter, noting that "politics should never be a revolving door you get stuck in".
Politiken får aldrig bli som en svängdörr som man fastnar i. pic.twitter.com/pqTUrR2N9Y— Carl Bildt (@CBildt) August 30, 2017
"If you look at it from a ten-year perspective, then I’m too old," he explained to DN.
The 68-year-old also said that "opinion polls shouldn’t govern Swedish politics", but did admit that his popularity is flattering:
"It's an honour, absolutely. I won't hide that. You feel a bit flattered, even."
Kinberg Batra announced her resignation as Moderate leader on August 25th following a year where they have struggled in the polls and voices in the party have questioned her position.
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The Moderate nominating committee will hold an extraordinary meeting to elect their next leader on October 1st. Former Defence Minister Odenberg and ex Social Security Minister Ulf Kristersson are among the early favourites to take the job, which will involve trying to turn things around with less than a year to go until Sweden’s next general election.