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Last Updated: Monday, 18 September 2006, 13:04 GMT 14:04 UK
Profile: Fredrik Reinfeldt
Moderate party leader Fredrik Reinfeldt
Mr Reinfeldt united the notoriously divided centre-right
The man poised to become Sweden's next prime minister - Fredrik Reinfeldt - has pulled off a dramatic victory, ending a long tradition of Social Democrat rule.

The margin was narrow, but Mr Reinfeldt, 41, can now build a centre-right government spearheaded by his Moderate Party.

Dubbed the "Swedish David Cameron", he successfully shifted the conservatives to the centre ground, convincing voters that he would fix, rather than dismantle, their cherished welfare system.

For the first time the Moderates campaigned on a joint platform with centre-right allies - the Christian Democrats, the Liberals and the Centre Party.

New coalition

Mr Reinfeldt's Alliance for Sweden overcame a history of bickering to present a powerful alternative to the Social Democrats.

He has proposed reforms to Sweden's welfare state, including cutting taxes for the lowest earners and reducing unemployment benefits, to encourage the jobless to return to work.

"The Nordic welfare model is in many aspects a good model but it needs more of a choice for individuals," he told Reuters news agency.

"We have a strong economy but we don't have the job creation we need. We want more job creation."

He has cultivated the image of a good family man - who even enjoys housework.

He lives in Taeby, a northern suburb of Stockholm, where his wife Filippa is chairwoman of the local council. They have a daughter, Ebba, and two sons, Gustaf and Erik.

Sweden's Aftonbladet newspaper likened Mr Reinfeldt and his wife to former US President Bill Clinton and his wife, New York Senator Hillary Clinton.

Moderates overhauled

Mr Reinfeldt became leader of the Moderates in 2003, a year after the party had slumped to just 15.2% in the 2002 elections.

In Sunday's vote the Moderates achieved a record 26.1%.

He was born in August 1965 into a family of entrepreneurs. His father ran a training company and his mother worked in recruitment. Mr Reinfeldt has cited their experience of the difficulties of business life - "the petty aggressive attitude toward entrepreneurship" - as being one of the key factors which influenced his political activity.

At the age of 26, only a year after graduating from Stockholm University with a degree in economics, he was first elected to the Riksdag. He became the head of the Moderate Party's youth wing in 1992.

He grew up with Sweden's cradle-to-grave welfare state and insisted in this election that his goal was to fine-tune it, focusing on getting people off welfare and into jobs.

That was a departure from previous Moderate policies, which put more emphasis on tax cuts.

"I am by nature confident and calm. But that does not mean I am not passionate and do not feel strongly about things," he has said.


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