Former Prime Minister Carl Bildt answers questions while trapped in a revolving door outside the Expressen newspaper.
Former Prime Minister Carl Bildt answers questions while trapped in a revolving door outside the offices of the Expressen newspaper. Credit: Maja Suslin/TT

Carl Bildt: "I'm too old to return as Moderate leader"

Sweden's former prime minister Carl Bildt has ruled himself out as the next leader of the opposition Moderate Party after speculations that he might be interested in the post.

Speaking to Norwegian national radio NRK on Tuesday, Bildt ducked the question of whether he is prepared, once again, to lead the Moderate Party. Then, on Wednesday, he told Swedish reporters that he is not interested in taking over.

"If you take a ten-year perspective, I'm too old," Bildt told a group of journalists with whom he had been trapped in a revolving door outside the offices of the Expressen newspaper on Wednesday.

"You should choose a party leader with the future in mind. It should be a name for the future. I'm more or less part of the past," Bildt said.

The former prime minister and foreign minister pointed out that he had led the Moderate Party for 13 years.

"I then stood down as party leader 17 to 18 years ago," he said. "Since then, I have for the most part been absent from the domestic-policy scene. That's the way it has to be," Bildt said.

Since losing his position as foreign minister after the centre-right Alliance opposition lost the 2014 general election, Bildt has maintained a high profile, with frequent posts on Twitter where he regularly comments on world affairs and documents his jet-setting lifestyle.

Some will be disappointed in Bildt's statement since polls this week showed strong support for him to replace Anna Kinberg Batra, who announced last week that she is standing down.

An Ipsos poll gave Bildt the support of 45 percent of Moderate Party voters, compared to 12 percent for former finance minister Anders Borg and just 5 percent and 4 percent respectively for the former social affairs minister Ulf Kristersson and former defence minister Mikael Odenberg, who are both vying for the job. 

An investigation by Sifo for the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper showed that 60 percent of Moderate voters wanted Bildt to take over.

Bildt told journalists on Wednesday that he is ready to assist his party and the Alliance but that he does not want to be their next leader.

"I want to help Sweden and the Alliance, and I want to help the Moderates," Bildt said. "But there are many other ways of doing that."

Bildt served as prime minister from 1991 to 1994, and as foreign minister from 2006 to 2014.

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