Göran Persson

Göran Persson

: "See Jöran Persson for the 16th century Swedish government official. See Göran Persson (born 1960) for the politician born in 1960."infobox Prime Minister
name=Göran Persson
order=31st Prime Minister of Sweden
monarch = Carl XVI Gustaf

term_start=March 22, 1996
term_end=October 6, 2006
predecessor=Ingvar Carlsson
successor=Fredrik Reinfeldt
deputy=Lena Hjelm-Wallén (1998–2002)
Margareta Winberg (2002–2003)
Marita Ulvskog (2003–2004)
Lars Engqvist (2004)
Bo Ringholm (2004–2006)
birth_date=birth date and age|1949|01|20
birth_place=Vingåker, Södermanland
party=Social Democratic
spouse=Gunnel Claesson (div.)
Annika Barthine (div.)
Anitra Steen

Hans Göran Persson (pronounced|ˈʝœːran ˈpæːʂɔn in Swedish) (born January 20 1949) was the Prime Minister of Sweden from 1996 to 2006 and the leader of the Swedish Social Democratic Party from 1996 to 2007. Conceding defeat in the September 2006 general election, he announced that he would resign as party leader, and Mona Sahlin was elected to succeed him as party leader in March 2007. Since August 2007 he has worked as a part time corporate lobbyist for the [http://www.jkl.se/default_com.asp JKL Group] .

Personal life

Persson was born in Vingåker in Södermanland, Sweden, in a working-class home. He has in recent years revealed that he wanted to become a priest as a young man;Fact|date=January 2007 however, he applied to the college in Örebro where he took courses in social science. He completed 80 college credits (120 ECTS credits) in the subject before he gave them up in 1971 without graduating. According to himself he had at the time almost completed an education in social and political sciences.Fact|date=January 2007 As the college later received credentials as a full university, the renamed Örebro University gave him an honorary PhD in medicine in February of 2005, an award that provoked some controversy.

In December 6 2003 Persson married Anitra Steen, who became his third wife. He first married Gunnel (Claesson) in 1978, with whom he has two daughters. They divorced in 1995. On March 10 1995 he married Annika Barthine, whom he divorced in December 2002.

In 2004 Persson and Steen purchased the 190 hectare agricultural property Övre Torp by Lake Båven in Södermanland. During 2006 the couple started the construction of a large house on the property.

He has maintained his Christian belief and is a member of Swedish Association of Christian Social Democrats.

Health problems

Göran Persson was in a bicycle accident during his time as Prime Minister [ [http://www.aftonbladet.se/vss/nyheter/story/0,2789,185242,00.html Så här blir du frisk, Persson] sv icon, Aftonbladet, June 4, 2004.] and in September 2003 Persson was diagonosed with hip osteoarthritis and surgery was recommended. He chose to go through Sweden's public health-care system instead of seeking private treatment; he was put on a waiting list, and finally received a hip replacement operation in June 2004. During that 9-month period he walked with a limp and reportedly was on strong painkillers; he had to cancel several official trips due to the pain he was in. [ [http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=060404D His Hip, Hooray!] en icon, TCS Daily, July 17, 2002.]

Political career

Persson was in office for more than ten years, making him the second-longest continuously-governing prime minister of Sweden second to Tage Erlander. He is known for his oratorical prowess, often dispensing with prepared speeches or preparing them without the aid of his staff. During his time, he has faced several shocking incidents, such as the Gothenburg riots in 2001, the 2003 murder of the minister of foreign affairs, Anna Lindh, the tsunami disaster in 2004, and the conflict over the publication of satirical Muhammed cartoons in Danish newspapers, leading to threats of violence against Scandinavians and burning of embassies in the Middle East and the resignation of Swedish Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds.

In the early seventies he worked for the Swedish Social Democratic Youth League ("SSU"), and was a member of the national board from 1972 to 1975. Later, he served as a city council politician at the small municipality of Katrineholm. In 1979 he was elected Member of Parliament, but went back to local politics to serve as Municipal Commissioner ("kommunalråd") of Katrineholm from 1985 to 1989.

National politics

In 1989 he was made Minister of Schools in the Ministry of Education during the first Ingvar Carlsson cabinet, until the election in 1991 when the Social Democrats were voted out of office. Persson was one of the brains behind the "Persson-plan" which was presented in 1994 targeting the prevailing economic situation. Sweden at the time still suffered from the recession which began during the early nineties, high unemployment rates and a huge budget deficit. Prime minister Carl Bildt relied at the time on a fragile coalition between the Moderate Party and three other liberal or conservative parties with a strained degree of cooperation. The outcome of the 1994 election proved a success for the Social Democrats when they gained more than 45% of the votes.

Upon returning to government in 1994, Persson was made Minister for Finance, a post he held until 1996. As Minister of Finance much of his job was focused on attaining a sound financial balance in the economy. Persson often emphasizes that he "cleaned up" after the Bildt government. [ [http://www.riksdagen.se/Webbnav/index.aspx?nid=101&bet=2004/05:140&guid=%7B1285BE57-F835-4CD7-B169-B361F1462A64%7D Riksdagens protokoll 2004/05:140] , Anf. 19, 15 juni 2004.] [Göran Persson, [http://www.dn.se/DNet/jsp/polopoly.jsp?d=572&a=577810&previousRenderType=2 "Ingen tillträdande regering har haft bättre förutsättningar"] , DN Debatt, 5 oktober 2006.]

Party leader and Prime Minister

In 1996 Persson was chosen over Mona Sahlin, the Deputy Prime Minister, to lead the country after Carlsson retired. Persson began where he left off as finance minister - by continuing to spearhead government efforts to alleviate Sweden's chronic budget deficit. In 1994, the annual shortfall was about 13% of GDP. But, after implementing welfare cuts and tax increases, it fell to a projected 2.6% of GDP in 1997, which put Sweden in a position to qualify for the European economic and monetary union. However, the cost was high: unemployment rose, hovering persistently around 13%, then suddenly fell to about 6.5% the same year.

1998 election

In the 1998 election the Social Democrats gained even fewer votes than in the 1991 election, when they got voted out of office. Thanks to support that came primarily from the Green and Left parties, he managed to retain office but had to rely on support from at least two parties in the parliament. Two weeks after the election, one of the most sweeping cabinet reshuffles in Swedish history took place, with eight ministers leaving their posts.Fact|date=January 2007 Later the same year, the government announced proposals for far-reaching cutbacks in Sweden's military spending.

The year 1999 was seen by the Social Democrats as the vindication for the tough fiscal policies pursued since they came to office in 1994: GDP growth was estimated at about 3.6%, well above the European average, inflation remained subdued, and the budget was in surplus for the first time in the 1990s. The party proposed income tax cuts for 2000.

In 2000 a strong economy, falling unemployment, and the impact of the Internet appeared to breathe new life into the “Swedish model” of a welfare society, one that had seemed dead and buried during the deep recession of the early 1990s: growth reached 4%, and unemployment fell to the lowest level in years. The Social Democrats, however, failed to capitalize on the economic boom. Opinion polls showed the party struggling to return to its post-election 36% approval level. Instead, the smaller Left Party, a Social Democrat ally, picked up support with its program of increased public spending and opposition to Swedish membership in the European single currency.

Economically, the bursting of the dot-com boom by 2001 had marked implications for Sweden. Ericsson, the world's largest producer of mobile telecommunications equipment, shed thousands of jobs, as did the country's once fast-expanding Internet consulting firms and dot-com start-ups.

Gross domestic product growth of 3.6% in 2000 was expected to have fallen to around 1.5% in 2001, and only a minor recovery was forecast for 2002. The government was hoping that tax cuts, subsidies on child-care expenses, and wage increases would boost consumer confidence with real disposable income to increase by 5.4%. Exports were also expected to pick up in 2002, helped by the weakness of the Swedish krona, which hit record lows against both the dollar and the euro in 2001.

2002 election

In the 2002 election the Social Democrats increased their number of seats in the parliament primarily at the expense of the Left Party. Persson continued to lead a minority government instead of forming a coalition, despite earlier demands from his supporting parties to participate in the government.

2006 election

After the defeat at the general elections of September 17 2006, Persson immediately filed a request for resignation, and declared his intentions to resign as party leader after a special party congress in March 2007. [cite news|author=Bergman, Jonas|title=Swedish Opposition Ousts Social Democrats in Election (Update2)|work=Bloomberg.com|date=2006-09-17|url=http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601085&sid=aeOSxmGa.P3I|accessdate=2006-09-24] On April 13, 2007, Persson also announced his resignation from the Riksdag (where he had served 1974–1984 and from 1991) to be succeeded by Caroline Helmersson Olsson from his native Vingåker.

1996 - 2006 Foreign policy

In foreign policy Persson belongs to the right-wing of the Social Democrats.Fact|date=January 2007 Among other things, he supported the 2001 United States invasion of Afghanistan, because it was in line with the UN Security Council's decision and because only military centers were to be targeted.Fact|date=January 2007 However he protested against the 2003 invasion of Iraq, because it was not accepted by the UN and was seen as unnecessary aggression with a risk of high civilian casualties.Fact|date=January 2007 Despite his differences with George W. Bush, Persson has admitted that he is a "truly underestimated politician" in Europe, referring to Bush's abilities as a politician rather than his political views, and the fact that many Europeans see Bush as a less than gifted leader.Fact|date=January 2007

As regards Sweden's membership in the European Union, Persson has been an advocate of an expanded Swedish role in the organization. During Sweden's presidency of the EU in the first half of 2001, Persson with assistance from foreign minister Anna Lindh presided over the organization and contributed towards the enlargement which took place in 2004. [ [http://archives.cnn.com/2001/WORLD/europe/01/01/sweden.eu/index.html Sweden takes EU helm] en icon, CNN, January 1, 2001.] [ [http://archives.cnn.com/2001/WORLD/europe/01/02/sweden.eu/index.html Swedes offer EU breath of fresh air] en icon, CNN, January 2, 2001.] He advocated for a Swedish entry into the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), however in a 2003 referendum a majority of Swedes voted against joining the EMU. [ [http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/europe/09/14/sweden.euro/index.html Sweden rejects euro currency] en icon, CNN, September 14, 2003.] [ [http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/europe/09/15/sweden.euro/index.html Sweden: Euro fallout feared] en icon, CNN, September 15, 2003.]

After leaving office

In October 2007, Persson released his memoirs, "Min väg, mina val" (My way, my choices). [http://www.svd.se/dynamiskt/inrikes/did_14387555.asp] In March 2007 a documentary series consisting of four one-hour episodes aired on SVT, chronicling Persson's time in office. The documentary became controversial due to Persson's negative comments about both his party members and staff and against his political opponents.

Persson left his seat in the Riksdag in April 2007. In May 2007 he announced that he would be working as a consultant for the Stockholm-based PR firm JKL in the future. In April 2008 he was installed as chairman of the board of Sveaskog, a forestry business group owned by the Swedish government.


External links

* [http://www.sweden.gov.se/sb/d/1158 Government Offices of Sweden - Göran Persson]


NAME=Persson, Göran
ALTERNATIVE NAMES=Persson, Hans Göran; Göran Persson i Stjärnhov
SHORT DESCRIPTION=Swedish politician, Swedish Social Democratic Party, thirty-second Prime minister of Sweden
DATE OF BIRTH=January 20 1949
PLACE OF BIRTH=Vingåker Sweden

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