Prime Minister Göran Persson

Election Looms Over Party Leader Debate

Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson has promised more benefits for the elderly and students, and reforms in this country’s expensive dental care system.

Persson opened a party leader debate in the Swedish Parliament Wednesday.

The opposition was critical. Conservative Moderate leader Fredrik Reinfeldt wondered why the prime minister didn’t talk about creating jobs. The Liberals’ Lars Leijonborg warned against the high cost of continuing to phase out nuclear power here.

Center Party leader Maud Olofsson said Persson’s ideas belong to the past and asked if he is the right person to lead Sweden. The Christian Democrat’s Göran Hägglund wanted to know if the prime minister intends to enter into a formal coalition with its parliamentary ally, the former Communist Left Party.

Swedes vote for a new parliament in September. The four opposition parties are ahead in the polls, but that lead has slipped in recent months.

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