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Monday, 16 September, 2002, 15:55 GMT 16:55 UK
Press cool on Swedish re-election
Social Democrats celebrate at rally in Stockholm, Persson (2nd from right)
Mr Persson's authority "has been strengthened"
Although Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson and his left-wing allies were re-elected to another four-year term in the elections by an absolute majority, the main Swedish papers were not euphoric in their response.

Most papers advised Social Democratic Party leader Persson to take note of the dramatic rise in support for the centre-right Liberal Party which nearly trebled its share of the vote.

Under the headline, "This is how the lion king roars", the tabloid newspaper, Aftonbladet, praised Liberal Party leader Lars Leijonborg for succeeding in turning the party into the country's third largest.

The party won almost 13% of the vote by making immigration and the integration of foreigners a central campaign theme. It also called for immigrants to pass a Swedish-language test before gaining citizenship.

Goran Persson has every reason to think seriously about where he goes from here

Dagens Nyheter

However, the centrist broadsheet, Dagens Nyheter, said Mr Persson's authority had been strengthened both at home and abroad and that his victory had bucked the recent European trend in which left-wing governments had lost power.

According to the paper, the result would mean that Mr Persson would find it easier to run a "yes" campaign in the expected referendum on the adoption of the euro next year.

But the paper also goes on to advise him to form a coalition with parties from the middle of the political spectrum, rather than continuing to rely on his left-wing allies, the Party of the Left and the Environment Party.

"Goran Persson has every reason to think seriously about where he goes from here."

Party alliance?

Elsewhere, the conservative broadsheet, Svenska Dagbladet also congratulated Mr Persson, but said the success of the non-socialist parties also "deserved a medal", it said, for their rise in popularity "against all odds".

It said Sweden would be best served by an alliance between the Social Democrats and the Liberals, noting that as voters had moved towards the centre, "it would therefore be natural if the centre of gravity of government policy was also in the middle".

Otherwise, the paper warns, "two parties who want to leave the EU would have great influence over Sweden's government policy at a time when the EU is preparing for the important enlargement".

But the leading article in the centre-right tabloid, Expressen, carried the headline "Total fiasco", saying that the election results were "a yawn" for Sweden.

Voters had given "a weak and apathetic yes" to the continuation of Social Democratic rule and predicted that Mr Persson would continue to remain in power with the support of the left and the Environment Party with no change in policy.

The paper said Mr Persson's policies were not particularly "creative or innovative", but grudgingly concluded that they were not "catastrophic".

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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16 Sep 02 | Europe
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