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A 90's Party Favorite: Sweden's Biggest Hawk Tipped for Comeback to Politics

© AP Photo / Sergei ChuzavkovSwedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, holds a camera during his walk in central Kiev, Ukraine, Friday, May 16, 2014
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, holds a camera during his walk in central Kiev, Ukraine, Friday, May 16, 2014 - Sputnik International
Former Swedish Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, arguably Sweden's best-known politician and the country's biggest hawk, may return triumphantly to politics. At present, Bildt is being touted as a favorite for the leadership of his former party, the Conservatives.

Following the abrupt resignation of former Conservative leader Anna Kinberg Batra, 68-year-old Carl Bildt seems to have resurfaced as the preferred candidate for many voters. Other notable candidates include former Social Security Minister Ulf Kristensson and former Defense Minister Mikael Odenberg.

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According to a survey by the Swedish tabloid newspaper Aftonbladet and pollster Inizio, a third of Conservative voters would like to see Carl Bildt at the party's helm once again. Bildt led the Conservative Party for a solid 13 years between 1986 and 1999, when he served as the Nordic country's prime minister.

Inizio analyst Karin Nelsson noted that Bildt is arguably the most famous Conservative and ventured that his persona stirs feelings of nostalgia within the party.

"[Bildt] would be welcomed with arms wide open by his party," Elisabeth Marmorstein, domestic analyst at Swedish national broadcaster SVT said, stressing Bildt's exceptional experience and well-known profile.

The main question is therefore whether Bildt would really be interested in taking over a party that is currently suffering badly from failing support and has in recent months lost much of its voters to Sweden Democrats, who seem to have a more appealing agenda to conservative voters.

"I don't think he'd really want that. Earlier, he served as a party leader and as prime minister. To crown his career with an election, where the Conservatives appear to be cruising towards a poor result, is hardly an attractive option," Elisabeth Marmorstein said, suggesting nevertheless that no doors are closed.

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According to SVT domestic commentator Mats Knutsson, the risk in the case of a comeback is too big for a heavyweight like Bildt.

"If you have been party leader, prime minister and foreign minister before, and enjoy almost a hero status among the Conservatives, then maybe he will think twice before chancing it," Mats Knutsson told SVT.

After dodging the question about a possible comeback for a while, Bildt finally said he was "honored, flattered and a little surprised." Nevertheless, he argued that he was too old and called himself a "has been." Previously, though, Bildt voiced his concern over the deep crisis within the Conservatives.

"I have been absent from the domestic political scene and so it must remain. There are things I gladly would like to do for the Conservatives, but there are other ways of doing it. Party leaders should be chosen with a future perspective of two or three terms, so it must be a name for the future," Carl Bildt told the tabloid newspaper Expressen.

Bildt is a descendant of one of Sweden's most eminent aristocratic families, and his great-great-grandfather Gillis Bildt also served as Sweden's prime minister.

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Together with Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski, Bildt is known as one of the main architects of the EU's Eastern policy, particularly the Eastern Partnership program for closer cooperation with former Soviet states.

Bildt has also gotten involved in the Ukrainian crisis by visiting Kiev and making heedless comments on the situation in the country. In particular, Bildt compared former Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych to Vidkun Quisling, the widely-reviled puppet leader of Norway during the Nazi occupation, whose name in many languages is synonymous with "traitor." This comparison alone has been described as "undiplomatic" and a testament to Bildt's "ignorance of history," whereas Bildt's involvement in Ukrainian issues has repeatedly been called "destructive."

Nevertheless, Bildt went on be appointed to Ukraine's International Advisory Council on Reforms, which consists of several foreign advisors to President Petro Poroshenko.

​​Bildt is also known for his anti-Russian rhetoric, which became briefly subdued during his time on the board of directors of Vostok Nafta, a financial company with holdings in Gazprom.

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