It’s an election that looks set to go right to the wire. Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson went head to head with his rival in the campaign’s third and final televised debate; a last chance to grab some floating voters. The man he has to beat is the Moderate Party’s Fredrik Reinfeldt, who at 41 would become Sweden’s youngest Prime Minister if his alliance of centre-right parties wins.
Persson has promised a more generous welfare system for worse-off citizens. Reinfeldt’s pledges include tax and welfare cuts to tackle unemployment in a country with one of the highest income tax rates in the world. Polls show the two neck and neck. Bookmakers predict Reinfeldt will edge out Persson’s Social Democrats, who have been in power for all but nine of the last 74 years.
Analysts say a low turn out would be bad news for Persson, Sweden’s leader since 1996. As a sideshow to the debate, Jane Fonda was in Stockholm to lend her support to The Feminist Initiative, a party with just one per cent of the vote, well below the four per cent needed for a seat in Parliament. Most Swedes will be casting their vote on Sunday, with a result due next week.