"Society will always change""We will always be confronted with new challenges, whereas the old ones come back. People are becoming increasingly demanding. They want more of everything and their needs are changing continuously", says Göran Persson, the former prime minister of Sweden. "When I was a ...
Communication & Media, Government & Politics
"Society will always change"
"We will always be confronted with new challenges, whereas the old ones come back. People are becoming increasingly demanding. They want more of everything and their needs are changing continuously", says Göran Persson, the former prime minister of Sweden. "When I was a municipal commissioner I learned that society never stops evolving."
Persson was in office for more than ten years. Conceding the defeat of the Swedish Social Democratic Party (SAP) in the general election on September 17, 2006 he resigned as prime minister and party leader. Persson was known for his authoritarian style; he prepared speeches without notifying his staff. He considered regulation of the press and advertising industry to rectify what he saw as an obsession with sex and beauty and had his government set up a review, on how to 'sanitise' the media. A national discussion on censorship and the preservation of good taste was the result.
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. During Sweden's presidency of the EU in the first half of 2001, Persson with assistance from foreign minister Anna Lindh presided over the organisation and contributed towards the enlargement which took place in 2004.
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; however, he applied to the college in Örebro where he took courses in social science. He left the college without graduating. He joined the SAP and became 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. In 1989 he was made Minister of Schools in the Ministry of Education and in 1994 Minister for Finance. Much of this job was focused on attaining a sound financial balance in the economy. In 1996 Persson was chosen over Mona Sahlin, the deputy prime minister, to lead the country. Persson was keen on cutting back unemployment, improving integrating of immigrants, protecting the environment. He was in favour of a strong foreign policy.