[QODLink]
Archive
New Swedish PM promises reforms
Fredrik Reinfeldt, the Swedish opposition leader, declared victory for his centre-right alliance in the general election, ending 12 years of Social Democrat rule by vowing to lower taxes and trim the welfare state.
Last Modified: 17 Sep 2006 22:33 GMT
Reinfeldt (L) will take over from Persson (R)
Fredrik Reinfeldt, the Swedish opposition leader, declared victory for his centre-right alliance in the general election, ending 12 years of Social Democrat rule by vowing to lower taxes and trim the welfare state.

Reinfeldt and the opposition bloc led by his Moderate Party had a narrow lead over Goran Persson, the Social Democrat prime minister, and his Green and Left Party allies, incomplete results on the Election Commission website showed.

Taking the stage with his arms raised, a triumphant Reinfeldt told supporters: "The Swedish people have voted in an alliance government."

Swedes, who were electing 349 members of parliament, have one of the world's highest tax burdens. Many of them believe in the principle of a tightly woven social safety net but say the system needs reform.

Welfare reform

The election was closely watched by governments of other European countries facing the need of welfare reform because of ageing populations and creaking pension and healthcare systems.

Despite Sweden's strong economic performance under the Social Democrats, opinion polls before the vote had shown many voters favoured change in the Scandinavian country of just over 9 million people.

The Moderate Party was crushed at the last election in 2002 but 41-year-old Reinfeldt enhanced his party's appeal by shifting it towards the centre and paring down earlier tax and benefit cut promises.

He leads an alliance with the Folk Liberals, Christian Democrats and Centre Party that says years of excessive benefits and high taxes have eroded Swedes' will to work.

Privatisation

Reinfeldt says changes are necessary now to preserve the welfare system for the future.

Reinfeldt intends to sell off some 200 billion Swedish crowns ($27.6 billion) worth of state-owned shares in listed companies over four years. His privatisation push could include government holdings in bank Nordea, telecoms company TeliaSonera and airline SAS.

Reinfeldt favours Nato entry, if there is broad agreement on the issue. He wants Sweden more involved in the EU but has no plans to hold a referendum on the euro currency in the next four years. Swedes rejected adopting the euro in 2003.

Source:
Reuters
Topics in this article
People
Country
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Featured
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.