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Göran Persson
Goran Persson, Sveriges statsminister, under nordiskt statsministermotet i Reykjavik 2005.jpg
Prime Minister of Sweden
In office
22 March 1996 – 6 October 2006
Monarch Carl XVI Gustaf
Deputy Lena Hjelm-Wallén
Margareta Winberg
Marita Ulvskog
Lars Engqvist
Bo Ringholm
Preceded by Ingvar Carlsson
Succeeded by Fredrik Reinfeldt
Leader of the Social Democrats
In office
15 March 1996 – 17 March 2007
Preceded by Ingvar Carlsson
Succeeded by Mona Sahlin
Minister for Finance
In office
7 October 1994 – 22 March 1996
Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson
Preceded by Anne Wibble
Succeeded by Erik Åsbrink
Minister for Schools
In office
26 January 1989 – 4 October 1991
Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson
Preceded by Bengt Göransson
Succeeded by Beatrice Ask
Member of the Swedish Parliament
for Södermanland County
In office
1 October 1979 – 11 June 1985
In office
5 October 1991 – 30 April 2007
Personal details
Born (1949-01-20) 20 January 1949 (age 74)
Vingåker, Sweden
Political party Social Democratic
  • Gunnel Claesson
    (m. 1978; div. 1994)
  • Annika Barthine
    (m. 1994; div. 2003)
  • Anitra Steen
    (m. 2003)
  • Anna
  • Linnea
Residence(s) Övre Torp, Södermanland
Alma mater Örebro University College
Military service
Allegiance Sweden Sweden
Branch/service Armén vapen bra.svg Swedish Army
Years of service 1973-1974

Hans Göran Persson (Swedish pronunciation: [ˈjœ̂ːran ˈpæ̌ːʂɔn]; born 20 January 1949) is a Swedish politician who served as Prime Minister of Sweden from 1996 to 2006 and leader of the Swedish Social Democratic Party from 1996 to 2007.

Persson was first elected to the Swedish Parliament in 1979, representing Södermanland County but left in 1985 to serve as Municipal Commissioner of Katrineholm, which he did from 1985 to 1989. In 1991, he was re-elected to the Parliament and represented the same constituency. He served as Minister for Schools from 1989 to 1991 in Ingvar Carlsson's first and second cabinets. From 1994 to 1996, Persson served as Minister for Finance in Carlsson's third cabinet.

After that Ingvar Carlsson announced his retirement from the position of Prime Minister, Persson was chosen to become the new Prime Minister. Persson began as Prime Minister where he left office as Minister for Finance – by continuing to spearhead government efforts to alleviate Sweden's chronic budget deficit. In 1994, the annual shortfall was about 13 per cent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP). But after implementing welfare cuts and tax increases, it fell to a projected 2.6 per cent of GDP in 1997, which placed Sweden in a position to qualify for the European Economic and Monetary Union. However, the cost was high: unemployment rose, hovering persistently around 13 per cent, then suddenly fell to about 6.5 per cent the same year. In the 1998 general election, the Social Democrats gained even fewer votes than in the 1991 general election, when they got voted out of office. Persson could remain as Prime Minister with the support of the Green Party and the Left Party.

In the 2002 general election the Social Democrats increased their number of seats in the parliament. After the defeat at the general elections of 17 September 2006, Persson immediately filed a request for resignation, and declared his intentions to resign as party leader after the party congress in March 2007.

Since leaving office, Persson has been a consultant for the Stockholm-based PR firm JKL. He published a book in October 2007, "Min väg, mina val" (My path, my choices). In 2008 he was appointed Chairman of the Board of Sveaskog by the Swedish Government. He has been a member of the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation since 2007, and a member of the board of World Resources Institute since 2010.

Personal life

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 (main sociology). He completed 80 college credits (120 ECTS credits) in the subject before he left the college in 1971 without graduating. As the college later received credentials as a full university, the renamed Örebro University gave him an honorary Ph.D. in medicine in February 2005, an award that provoked some controversy.

He first married Gunnel (née Claesson) in 1978, with whom he has two daughters. They divorced in 1995. On 10 March 1995, he married Annika Barthine, whom he divorced in December 2002. On 6 December 2003, Persson married Anitra Steen, who became his third wife. In 2004, Persson and Steen purchased the 190-hectare agricultural property, Övre Torp, by Lake Båven in Södermanland. During 2006 the couple started the construction of a large house on the property.

Besides his native Swedish, Persson also speaks English.

He has maintained his Christian faith and is a member of Swedish Association of Christian Social Democrats.

After leaving office

In October 2007, Persson released his memoirs, "Min väg, mina val" (My path, my choices). [1] In March 2007 a documentary series consisting of four one-hour episodes aired on SVT, chronicling Persson's time in office. The documentary became controversial due to Persson's negative comments about both his party members and staff and against his political opponents.

Persson left his seat in the Riksdag in April 2007. In May 2007 he announced that he would be working as a consultant for the Stockholm-based PR firm JKL in the future. In April 2008 he was installed as chairman of the board of Sveaskog, a forestry business group owned by the Swedish government. He held the post until 2015. In 2019 he became chairman of Swedbank, one of Sweden's largest banks.

In late 2008, he became a member of the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation, a not-for-profit organization established to monitor tolerance in Europe and prepare recommendations on fighting xenophobia and intolerance on the continent.

In March 2010, Persson was elected to the Board of Directors of World Resources Institute.

Foreign policy

Bush Persson Prodi
Göran Persson (center) with George W. Bush and Romano Prodi at Gunnebo Slott near Gothenburg, Sweden, 14 June 2001.

Regarding Sweden's membership in the European Union, Persson has been an advocate of an expanded Swedish role in the organization. During Sweden's presidency of the EU in the first half of 2001, Persson with assistance from foreign minister Anna Lindh presided over the organization and contributed towards the enlargement which took place in 2004. He advocated for a Swedish entry into the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), however in a 2003 referendum a majority of Swedes voted against joining the EMU.

ITF: Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research

In 1998, Prime Minister Persson initiated international talks on the establishment of an inter-governmental organisation for Holocaust education, which resulted in the founding of the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research (ITF). The ITF now has 27 Member States. He had already raised the issue of Holocaust education within the Swedish Parliament, initiating a national information campaign with the aim for 'facts about the Holocaust to form the platform for a discussion on democracy, tolerance and the fact that every human was of equal value.' The Campaign was entitled Living History, or Levande Historia.

Honours and awards

  • Raoul Wallenberg Award (USA, 2001)
  • Honorary doctorate from Dankook University in Seoul (South Korea, (2004)
  • Honorary doctorate from the University of Örebro (2004)
  • The Sophie Prize, "for his political leadership in the field of climate policy" (Norway, 2007)
  • H. M. The King's Medal, 12th size with chain (2009)
  • Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana, First Class (Estonia, 2011)

See also

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