Göran Persson (yö´rän pĕrs´sôn), 1949–, Swedish politician, prime minister (1996–2006). A member of the Social Democratic party, he was first elected to parliament in 1979, serving until 1984 and again from 1989. During the administration of Ingvar Carlsson, Persson was minister of education (1989–91) and finance (1994–96), becoming known as a tough-minded, cost-cutting technocrat. When Carlsson resigned in 1996, Persson succeeded him as party leader and prime minister. Persson has struggled to moderate government spending and deal with a large national debt while improving the country's welfare system and reducing unemployment. He was returned to office in 1998 and 2002 but lost to a center-right coalition in 2006.