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Swedish Social Democratic Party

Swedish Social Democratic Party
Sveriges socialdemokratiska arbetareparti
Leader Stefan Löfven
Secretary-General Carin Jämtin
Parliamentary group leader Mikael Damberg
Founded 23 April 1889 (1889-04-23)
Headquarters Sveavägen 68, Stockholm
Student wing Social Democratic Students of Sweden
Youth wing Swedish Social Democratic Youth League
Women's wing Social Democratic Women in Sweden
Religious wing Religious Social Democrats of Sweden
Membership  (2014) 99,027[1]
Political position Centre-left
International affiliation Progressive Alliance,
Socialist International
European affiliation Party of European Socialists
European Parliament group Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats
Nordic affiliation SAMAK
Colours      Red
113 / 349
European Parliament
5 / 20
County councils[4]
572 / 1,597
Municipal councils[5]
4,364 / 12,780
Politics of Sweden
Political parties

The Swedish Social Democratic Party, (Swedish: Sveriges socialdemokratiska arbetareparti, SAP; literally, "Social Democratic Workers' Party of Sweden"),[6] contesting elections as the Arbetarepartiet–Socialdemokraterna ('Workers' Party – Social Democrats'), usually referred to just as the 'Social Democrats' (Socialdemokraterna); is the oldest and largest political party in Sweden, founded in 1889. In 1917, a schism occurred when the left socialists split from the Social Democrats to form the Swedish Social Democratic Left Party (later the Communist Party of Sweden and now the Left Party). The symbol of the SAP is traditionally a red rose, which is believed to have been Fredrik Ström's idea.. The words of honour, as recorded by the 2001 party programme, are "freedom, equality, and solidarity."

The Social Democratic Party's position has a theoretical base within Marxist revisionism. Its party program interchangeably calls their ideology democratic socialism, or social democracy, though few high-level representatives have invoked socialism since Olof Palme. The party supports social welfare provision paid for from progressive taxation. The party supports a social corporatist economy involving the institutionalization of a social partnership system between capital and labor economic interest groups, with government oversight to resolve disputes between the two factions.[7] In recent times they have become strong supporters of egalitarianism, and maintain a strong opposition to what they perceive as discrimination and racism.

In 2007, the Social Democrats elected Mona Sahlin as its first female party leader.

On 7 December 2009, the Social Democrats launched a political and electoral coalition known as the Red-Greens together with the Greens and the Left Party. The parties contested the 2010 election on a joint manifesto, but lost the election to the incumbent centre-right coalition The Alliance. On 26 November 2010 the Red-Green alliance was dissolved.[8]


  • Current status 1
  • Voter base 2
    • 2006 election results 2.1
    • Electoral history 2.2
    • Riksdag 2.3
    • European Parliament 2.4
  • Political impact and history 3
    • Liberalism 3.1
    • Revisionism 3.2
    • Social democracy 3.3
    • Rehn-Meidner macroeconomics to neoliberalism 3.4
    • 21st century 3.5
  • International affiliations 4
  • List of Leaders of the Social Democrats 5
  • See also 6
  • Literature 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Current status

Currently, the Social Democratic Party has about 100,000 members, with about 2,540 local party associations and 500 workplace associations. It has been the largest party in the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise and its predecessors) as well as the union federations.

Organisations within the Swedish social democratic movement:

Voter base

The Swedish Social Democratic Party got between 40%-55% of the votes in all elections between 1930 and 1990 making it one of the most successful political parties in the history of the

External links

  1. ^ "Här är partiet som växer mest". Dagens Industri. 30 September 2014. 
  2. ^ Merkel, Wolfgang; Alexander Petring; Christian Henkes; Christoph Egle (2008). Social Democracy in Power: the capacity to reform. London: Taylor & Francis. pp. 8, 9.  
  3. ^ Wolfram Nordsieck. "Parties and Elections in Europe: The database about parliamentary elections and political parties in Europe, by Wolfram Nordsieck". Retrieved 13 September 2014. 
  4. ^ "2014: Val till landstingsfullmäktige - Valda", Valmyndigheten, 2014-09-28
  5. ^ "2014: Val till kommunfullmäktige - Valda", Valmyndigheten, 2014-09-26
  6. ^ Lamb, Peter; Docherty, James C. (2006), Historical Dictionary of Socialism (Second ed.), Scarecrow Press 
  7. ^ Gerassimos Moschonas, Gregory Elliot (translator). In the name of social democracy: the great transformation, 1945 to the present. London, United Kingdom; New York, United States: Verso, 2002. P64-69.
  8. ^ Stenberg, Ewa (26 November 2012). "Det borde bara ha varit vi och S".  
  9. ^ Göran Therborn "A Unique Chapter in the History of Democracy: The Swedish Social Democrats", in. K. Misgeld et al (eds.), Creating Social Democracy, University Park Pa., Penn State University Press, 1996
  10. ^ Hur röstade LO-medlemmar?, Social bakgrund - sysselsättning relaterat till partiröst SVT Valu (Parliamentary election exit poll)
  11. ^ (Swedish)Historisk statistik över valåren 1910 - 2006, from Statistics Sweden, accessed 14 June 2007
  12. ^ Sundström, Eric. 2006. "Election analysis: Why we lost.".
  13. ^ Holmberg, Sören; Näsman, Per; Wänström, Kent (2010). Riksdagsvalet 2010 Valu (Report). Sveriges Television. Retrieved 2010-09-30.
  14. ^ Samuelsson, Kurt. 1968. From great power to welfare state: 300 years of Swedish social development. London: George Allen and Unwin.
  15. ^ Alapuro, Risto. 1999. "On the repertoires of collective action in France and the Nordic countries." TBD.
  16. ^ Pp. 101-102 in Adler-Karlsson, Gunnar. 1967. Functional Socialism. Stockholm: Prisma. Cited on p. 196 in Berman, Sheri. 2006. The Primacy of Politics: Social Democracy and the Making of Europe’s Twentieth Century. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, MA.
  17. ^ Pp. 258-259 in Erlander, Tage. 1956 SAP Congress Protokoll, in Från Palm to Palme: Den Svenska Socialdemokratins Program. Stockholm: Raben and Sjögren. Cited in Berman 2006: 196. Abrahamson, Peter. "The Scandinavian model of welfare." TBD
  18. ^ Berman 2006: 153
  19. ^ in a letter to Axel Danielsson in jail (1889), reprinted on p. 189 in Från Palm to Palme: Den Svenska Socialdemokratins Program. Stockholm: Raben and Sjögren. Cited in Berman 2006:156.
  20. ^ Korpi, Walter and Stern. 2004. "Women's employment in Sweden: Globalization, deindustrialization, and the labor market experiences of Swedish Women 1950-2000." Globalife Working Paper No. 51. Korpi, Walter and Joakim Palme. 2003. "New politics and class politics in the conext of austerity and globalization: Welfare state regress in 18 countries 1975-1995." Stockholm: Stockholm University. Korpi, Walter. 2003. "Welfare state regress in Western Europe: Politics, Institutions, Globalization, and Europeanization." Annual Review of Sociology 29: 589-609. Korpi, Walter. 1996. "Eurosclerosis and the sclerosis of objectivity: On the role of velues among economic policy experts." Economic Journal 106: 1727-1746. Notermans, Ton. 1997. "Social democracy and external constraints." Pp. 201-239 in Spaces of globalization: Reasserting the power of the local, edited by K.R. Cox. New York: The Guildord Press. Olsen, Gregg. 2002. The politics of the welfare state: Canada, Sweden, and the United States. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Pred, Alan. 2000. Even in Sweden: Racisms, racialized spaces, and the popular geographical imagination. Berkeley: University of California Press. Ryner, Magnus. TBD. SAF. 1993. The Swedish Employers' Confederation: An Influential Voice in Public Affairs. Stockholm: SAF. Stephens, John D. 1996. "The Scandinavian welfare states: Achievements, crisis, and prospects." Pp. 32-65 in Welfare states in transition: National adaptations in global economies, edited by Gosta Esping-Anderson. Wennerberg, Tor. 1995. "Undermining the welfare state in Sweden." ZMagazine, June. Accessed at [1].
  21. ^ Vartiainen, Juhana. 2001. "Understanding Swedish Social Democracy: Victims of Success?" pp. 21-52 in Social Democracy in Neoliberal Times, edited by Andrew Glyn. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  22. ^ Berman 2006: 153-154, 156
  23. ^ Berman 2006: 159
  24. ^ Berman 2006: 152
  25. ^ Cohen, Peter. 1994. "Sweden: The Model That Never Was." Monthly Review, July–August.
  26. ^ Berman 2006: 196
  27. ^ Berman 2006: 153, 155
  28. ^ Berman 2006:157
  29. ^ Stevenson, Paul. 1979. "Swedish Capitalism: An Essay Review." Crime, Law, and Social Change 3(2).
  30. ^ Berman 2006: 158-159; 166-167
  31. ^ Reprinted in Håkansson, edl, Svenska Valprogram, Vol. 2, and cited in Berman 2006:173
  32. ^ Berman 2006: 163-164; 170
  33. ^ Meidner, Rudolf. 1993. "Why did the Swedish model fail?" The Socialist Register 29: 211-228.
  34. ^ Hansson, Per Albin. "Folk och Klass": 80. Cited in Berman 2006: 166
  35. ^ Berkling. Från Fram till Folkhemmet: 227-230; Tilton. The Political Theory of Swedish Social Democracy: 126-127.
  36. ^ Carroll, Eero. 2003. "International organisations and welfare states at odds? The case of Sweden." Pp.75-88 in The OECD and European welfare states, edited by Klaus Armingeon and Michelle Beyeler. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar. Esping-Anderson, Gösta. 1985. Politics against markets: The social-democratic road to power. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Korpi, Walter. 1992. Halkar Sverige efter? Sveriges ekonomiska tillväxt 1820-1990 i jämförande belysning., Stockholm: Carlssons. Olsen, Gregg M. 1999. "Half empty or half full? The Swedish welfare state in transition." Canadian Review of Sociology & Anthropology, 36 (2): 241-268. Olsen, Gregg. 2002. The politics of the welfare state: Canada, Sweden, and the United States. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Samuelsson, Kurt. 1968. From great power to welfare state: 300 years of Swedish social development. London: George Allen and Unwin.
  37. ^ Berman, Sheri. 2006. The Primacy of Politics: Social Democracy and the Making of Europe’s Twentieth Century. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, MA
  38. ^ Abrahamson, Peter. 1999. "The Scandinavian model of welfare." TBD
  39. ^ Delton, Jennifer A. 2002. Making Minnesota Liberal. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota. Hudson, Mark. 2007. The Slow Co-Production of Disaster: Wildfire, Timber Capital, and the United States Forest Service. Eugene, OR: University of Oregon.
  40. ^ Eisenhower, Dwight D. 1960. From Public Papers of the President. Dwight D. Eisenhower Library. Available online at
  41. ^ Esping-Anderson, Gosta. 1985. Politics against markets: The social-democratic road to power. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Samuelsson, Kurt. 1968. From great power to welfare state: 300 years of Swedish social development. London: George Allen and Unwin.
  42. ^ Andersson, Stellan. "Olof Palme och Vietnamfrågan 1965-1983" (in Swedish). Retrieved 27 February 2008. 
  43. ^ Integrationsverket website TBD; Alund, Aleksandra & Carl-Ulrik Schierup TBD; Mulinari, Diana and Anders Neergaard. 2004. Den Nya Svenska Arbetarklassen. Borea: Borea Bokforlag.
  44. ^ Michael Newman (25 July 2005), Socialism: A Very Short Introduction,  
  45. ^ Berman 2006
  46. ^ a b Krantz, Olle and Lennart Schön. 2007. Swedish Historical National Accounts, 1800-2000. Lund: Almqvist and Wiksell International.
  47. ^ a b Steinmo, Sven. 2001. "Bucking the Trend? The Welfare State and Global Economy: The Swedish Case Up Close." University of Colorado, 18 December.
  48. ^ Sjöberg, T. (1999). Intervjun: Kjell-Olof Feldt [Interview: Kjell-Olof Feldt]." Playboy Skandinavia(5): 37-44.
  49. ^ Berman 2006: 198
  50. ^ McNally, David. 1999. "Turbulence in the World Economy." Monthly Review 51(2). Bowles, Samuel, David M. Gordon, and Thomas E. Weisskopf. 1989. "Business Ascendancy and Economic Impasse: A Structural Retrospective on Conservative Economics, 1979-87." Journal of Economic Perspectives 3(1):107-134.
  51. ^ Englund, P. 1990. "Financial deregulation in Sweden." European Economic Review 34 (2-3): 385-393. Korpi TBD. Meidner, R. 1997. "The Swedish model in an era of mass unemployment." Economic and Industrial Democracy 18 (1): 87-97. Olsen, Gregg M. 1999. "Half empty or half full? The Swedish welfare state in transition." Canadian Review of Sociology & Anthropology, 36 (2): 241-268.
  52. ^ Between 1990 and 1994, per capita income declined by approximately 10% –
  53. ^ The Local, 13 June 2007.
  54. ^ Olsen, Gregg. 2002. The politics of the welfare state: Canada, Sweden, and the United States. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  55. ^ Steinmo, Sven. 2001. "Bucking the Trend? The Welfare State and Global Economy: The Swedish Case Up Close." University of Colorado, 18 December. Carroll, Eero. 2004. “International Organizations and Welfare States at Odds? The Case of Sweden.” The OECD and European Welfare States. Edited by Klaus Armingeon and Michelle Beyer. Northampton, MA: Edward Egar.
  56. ^ Acker, Joan. Hobson, Barbara. Sainsbury, Diane. 1999. "Gender and the making of the Norwegian and Swedish welfare states." Pp. 153-168 in Comparing social welfare systems in Nordic Europe and France. Nantes: Maison des Sciences de l'Homme Ange-Guepin. Älund, Aleksandra and Carl-Ulrik Schierup. 1991. Paradoxes of multiculturalism. Aldershot: Avebury.
  57. ^ Kowalski, Werner. Geschichte der sozialistischen arbeiter-internationale: 1923 - 19. Berlin: Dt. Verl. d. Wissenschaften, 1985. p. 322
  58. ^ "Socialist International - Progressive Politics For A Fairer World". Retrieved 13 September 2014. 
  59. ^ "Parties - PES". PES. Retrieved 13 September 2014. 


  • Andersson, Jenny (2006). Between growth and security: Swedish social democracy from a strong society to a third way. Manchester University Press. 
  • Johansson, Karl Magnus; Von Sydow, Göran (2011). Swedish social democracy and European integration: Enduring divisions. Social Democracy and European Integration: The politics of preference formation (Routledge). pp. 157–187. 
  • Therborn, Göran & Kjellberg, Anders & Marklund, Staffan & Öhlund, Ulf (1978) "Sweden Before and After Social Democracy: A First Overview", Acta Sociologica 1978 - supplement, pp. 37 - 58.
  • Therborn, Göran (1984) "The Coming of Swedish Social Democracy", in E. Collotti (ed.) Il movimiento operaio tra le due guerre, Milano: Annali della Fondazione Giangiacomo Feltrinelli 1983/84, pp. 527–593
  • Östberg, Kjell (2012). Swedish Social Democracy After the Cold War: Whatever Happened to the Movement?. Social Democracy After the Cold War (Athabasca University Press). pp. 205–234. 


See also

† = died while in office.

Leader Portrait Took Office Left Office Prime Minister
Claes Tholin 1896 1907 Erik Gustaf Boström, until 1900
Fredrik von Otter, 1900–02
Erik Gustaf Boström, 1902–05
Johan Ramstedt, 1905
Christian Lundeberg, 1905
Karl Staaff, 1905-1906
Arvid Lindman, 1906-11
Hjalmar Branting 1907 1925
Karl Staaff, 1911-14
Hjalmar Hammarskjöld, 1914-17
Carl Schwarz, 1917
Nils Edén, 1917-20
Himself, 1920
Gerhard Louis De Geer, 1920-21
Oscar von Sydow, 1921
Himself, 1921-23
Ernst Trygger, 1923-24
Himself, 1924-25
Per Albin Hansson 1925 1946 Rickard Sandler, 1925-26
Carl Gustaf Ekman, 1926-28
Arvid Lindman, 1928-30
Carl Gustaf Ekman, 1930-32
Felix Hamrin, 1932
Himself, 1932-36
Axel Pehrsson-Bramstorp, 1936
Himself, 1936-46
Tage Erlander 1946 1969 Himself, 1946-69
Olof Palme 1969 1986 Himself, 1969-76
Thorbjörn Fälldin, 1976-78
Ola Ullsten, 1978-79
Thorbjörn Fälldin, 1979-82
Himself, 1982-86
Ingvar Carlsson 1986 1996 Himself, 1986-91
Carl Bildt, 1991-94
Himself, 1994-96
Göran Persson 1996 2007 Himself, 1996-2006
Fredrik Reinfeldt, 2006-14
Mona Sahlin 2007 2011
Håkan Juholt 2011 2012
Stefan Löfven 2012 Incumbent
Himself, 2014- (Incumbent)

List of Leaders of the Social Democrats

The current-day party is a member of the Socialist International,[58] the Party of European Socialists[59] and SAMAK, and most recently the Progressive Alliance.

The party was a member of the Labour and Socialist International between 1923 and 1940.[57]

International affiliations

The Social Democratic Party pursues environmentalist and feminist policies which promote healthful and humane conditions. Feminist policies formed and implemented by the Social Democratic Party and the Left Party and the Greens (which made an arrangement with the Social Democrats to support the government, while not forming a coalition), include paid maternity and paternity leave, high employment for women in the public sector, combining flexible work with living wages and benefits, providing public support for women in their traditional responsibilities for care giving, and policies to stimulate women's political participation and leadership. Reviewing policies and institutional practices for their impact on women had become common in social democratic governance.[56]

However, many of the aspects of the social-democratic welfare state continued to function at a high level, due in no small part to the high rate of unionization in Sweden, the independence of unions in wage-setting, and the exemplary competency of the feminized public sector workforce,[54] as well as widespread public support. The Social Democrats initiated studies on the effects of the neoliberal changes, and the picture that emerged from those findings allowed the party to reduce many tax expenditures, slightly increase taxes on high income-earners, and significantly reduce taxes on food. The Social Democratic Finance Minister increased spending on child support and continued to pay down the public debt.[55] By 1998 the Swedish macro-economy recovered from the 1980s industrial restructuring and the currency policy excesses.[46] At the turn of the twenty-first century, Sweden has a well-regarded, generally robust economy, and the average quality of life, after government transfers, is very high, inequality is low (the Gini coefficient is .28), and social mobility is high (compared to the affluent Anglo-American and Central European countries).[47]

21st century

[53] by stabilizing the currency—and by reducing the [52] When the Social Democrats returned to power in 1994, they responded to the fiscal crisis

Göran Persson was a prolific Social Democratic leader, holding the office of Prime Minister for ten years

The economic crisis in the 1990s has been widely cited in the Anglo-American press as a social democratic failure, but it is important to note not only did profit rates begin to fall worldwide after the 1960s,[50] also this period saw neoliberal ascendance in Social Democratic ideology and policies as well as the rise of bourgeois coalition rule in place of the Social Democrats. 1980s Social Democratic neoliberal measures—such as depressing and deregulating the currency to prop up Swedish exports during the economic restructuring transition, dropping corporate taxation and taxation on high income-earners, and switching from anti-unemployment policies to anti-inflationary policies—were exacerbated by international recession, unchecked currency speculation, and a centre-right government led by Carl Bildt (1991–1994), creating the fiscal crisis of the early 1990s.[51]

The 1980s were a very turbulent time in Sweden that initiated the occasional decline of Social Democratic Party rule. In the 1980s, pillars of Swedish industry were massively restructured. Shipbuilding was discontinued, wood pulp was integrated into modernized paper production, the steel industry was concentrated and specialized, and mechanical engineering was digitalized.[46] In 1986, one of the Social Democratic Party's strongest champions of egalitarianism and democracy, Olof Palme was assassinated. Swedish capital was increasingly moving Swedish investment into other European countries as the European Union coalesced, and a hegemonic consensus was forming among the elite financial community: progressive taxation and pro-egalitarian redistribution became economic heresy.[47] A leading proponent of capital's cause at the time, Social Democrat Finance Minister Kjell-Olof Feldt reminisced in an interview, "The negative inheritance I received from my predecessor Gunnar Sträng (Minister of Finance 1955 - 1976) was a strongly progressive tax system with high marginal taxes. This was supposed to bring about a just and equal society. But I eventually came to the opinion that it simply didn't work out that way. Progressive taxes created instead a society of wranglers, cheaters, peculiar manipulations, false ambitions and new injustices. It took me at least a decade to get a part of the party to see this."[48] With the capitalist confederation's defection from the 1938 Saltsjöbaden Agreement and Swedish capital investing in other European countries rather than Sweden, as well as the global rise of neoliberal political-economic hegemony, the Social Democratic Party backed away from the progressive Meidner reform.[49]

Because the Rehn-Meidner model allowed capitalists owning very productive and efficient firms to retain excess profits at the expense of the firms’ workers, thus exacerbating inequality, workers in these firms began to agitate for a share of the profits in the 1970s, just as women working in the state sector began to assert pressure for better wages. Meidner established a study committee that came up with a 1976 proposal that entailed transferring the excess profits into investment funds controlled by the workers in the efficient firms, with the intention that firms would create further employment and pay more workers higher wages, rather than increasing the wealth of company owners and managers.[44] Capitalists immediately distinguished this proposal as socialism, and launched an unprecedented opposition—including calling off the class compromise established in the 1938 Saltsjöbaden Agreement.[45]

Rehn-Meidner macroeconomics to neoliberalism

Under the Social Democrats' administration, Sweden retained neutrality, as a foreign policy guideline, during the wars of the twentieth century, including the Cold War. Neutrality preserved the Swedish economy and boosted Sweden's economic competitiveness in the first half of the twentieth century, as other European countries' economies were devastated by war.[41] Under Olof Palme's Social Democratic leadership Sweden further aggravated the hostility of United States political conservatives when Palme openly denounced US aggression in Vietnam. U.S. President Richard Nixon suspended diplomatic ties with the social democratic country.[42] In 2003, top-ranking Social Democratic Party politician Anna Lindh—who criticized the U.S. invasion of Iraq, as well as both Israeli and Palestinian atrocities, and who was the lead figure promoting the European Union in Sweden—was assassinated in public in Stockholm. As Lindh was to succeed Goran Persson in the party leadership, her death was deeply disruptive to the party as well as to the campaign to promote the adoption of the EMU (euro) in Sweden. The neutrality policy has changed with the contemporary ascendance of the bourgeois coalition, and Sweden has committed troops to support the US and UK's interventions in Afghanistan. Under Social Democratic governance relatively strong overseas humanitarian programs and a comparatively well-developed refugee program have been implemented, and frequently reformed.[43]

Social democratic leader and Prime Minister Olof Palme in the 1970s

At a 27 July 1960 Republican National Committee breakfast in Chicago, President Dwight D. Eisenhower said, probably referring to Sweden, "Only in the last few weeks, I have been reading quite an article on the experiment of almost complete paternalism in a friendly European country. This country has a tremendous record for socialistic operation, following a socialistic philosophy, and the record shows that their rate of suicide has gone up almost unbelievably and I think they were almost the lowest nation in the world for that. Now, they have more than twice our rate. Drunkenness has gone up. Lack of ambition is discernible on all sides."[40] This remains a perception of Social Democrat governments amongst some people overseas.

These social democratic policies have had international influence. The early Swedish “red-green” coalition encouraged Nordic-networked socialists in the state of Minnesota, in the U.S., to dedicate efforts to building a similarly potent labor-farmer alliance that put the socialists in the governorship, ran model innovative statewide anti-racism programs in the early years of the twentieth century, and enabled federal forest managers in Minnesota to practice a precocious ecological-socialism, before Democratic Party reformers appropriated the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party infrastructure to the liberal Democratic Party in 1944.[39] On the other hand, policies comprising the Nordic model have often been depicted, in American conservative circles and the American press, as wreaking havoc upon Swedish society.

The Social Democratic Party is generally recognized as the main architect of the Gösta Rehn and Rudolf Meidner.[36] The Rehn-Meidner model featured the centralized system of wage bargaining that aimed to both set wages at a “just” level and promote business efficiency and productivity. With the pre-1983 cooperation of capital and labor federations that bargained independently of the state, the state determined that wages would be higher than the market would set in firms that were inefficient or uncompetitive and lower than the market would set in firms that were highly productive and competitive. Workers were compensated with state-sponsored retraining and relocating; as well, the state reformed wages to the goal of “equal pay for equal work”, eliminated unemployment (“the reserve army of labor”) as a disciplinary device, and kept incomes consistently rising, while taxing progressively and pooling social wealth to deliver services through local governments.[37] Social Democratic policy has traditionally emphasized a state spending structure whereby public services are supplied via local government, as opposed to emphasizing social insurance program transfers.[38]

Social democracy

"The basis of the home is community and togetherness. The good home does not recognize any privileged or neglected members, nor any favorite or stepchildren. In the good home there is equality, consideration, co-operation, and helpfulness. Applied to the great people’s and citizens’ home this would mean the breaking down of all the social and economic barriers that now separate citizens into the privileged and the neglected, into the rulers and the dependents, into the rich and the poor, the propertied and the impoverished, the plunderers and the plundered. Swedish society is not yet the people’s home. There is a formal equality, equality of political rights, but from a social perspective, the class society remains, and from an economic perspective the dictatorship of the few prevails" (Hansson 1928).[35]

While the SAP has worked more or less constructively with more radical Left parties in Sweden, the Social Democrats have borrowed from socialists some of their discourse, and decreasingly, the socialist understanding of the structurally compromised position of labor under capitalism. Even more creatively, the Social Democrats commandeered selected, transcendental images from such nationalists as Rudolf Kjellen (1912), very effectively undercutting fascism’s appeal in Sweden.[32] In this way, Per Albin Hansson declared that “there is no more patriotic party than the [SAP since] the most patriotic act is to create a land in which all feel at home,” famously igniting Swedes’ innermost longing for transcendence with the idea of the Folkhem (1928), or People’s Home. The Social Democratic Party promoted Folkhemmet as a socialist home at a point in which the party turned its back on working class struggle and the policy tool of nationalization.[33] “The expansion of the party to a people’s party does not mean and must not mean a watering down of socialist demands,” Hansson soothed.[34]

[31]”, asserted the party’s 1932 election manifesto.intellectuals or civil servants The SAP version of socialist ideology allowed them to maintain a prescient view of the working class: “[The SAP] does not question…whether those who have become capitalism’s victims…are industrial workers, farmers, agricultural laborers, forestry workers, store clerks, [30] Among the social movement tactics of the Swedish Social Democratic Party in the twentieth century was its redefinition of “


While some commentators have seen the party lose focus with the rise of SAP neoliberal study groups, the Swedish Social Democratic Party has for many years appealed to Swedes as innovative, capable, and worthy of running the state.[22] The Social Democrats became one of the most successful political parties in the world, with some structural advantages in addition to their auspicious birth within vibrant folkrörelser. At the close of the nineteenth century, liberals and socialists had to band together to augment establishment democracy, which was at that point embarrassingly behind in Sweden; they could point to formal democratic advances elsewhere to motivate political action.[23] In addition to being small, Sweden was a semi-peripheral country at the beginning of the twentieth century, considered unimportant to competing global political factions; so it was permitted more independence, while soon the existence of communist and capitalist superpowers allowed social democracy to flourish in the geo-political interstices.[24] The SAP has the resource of sharing ideas and experiences, and working with its sister parties throughout the Nordic countries. Sweden could also borrow and innovate upon ideas from English-language economists, which was an advantage for the Social Democrats in the Great Depression; but more advantageous for the bourgeois parties in the 1980s and afterward. While the SAP has not been innocent of repressing communists,[25] the party has overall benefitted, in government coalition and in avoiding severe stagnation and drift, by engaging in relatively constructive relationships with the more radical Left Party and the Green Party. The early SAP had internal resources as well, in creative politicians with brilliant tactical minds, and similarly creative labor economists at their disposal.

Liberalism has also strongly infused social-democratic ideology. Liberalism has oriented social democratic goals to security, as where Tage Erlander, prime minister from 1946 to 1969, described security as “too big a problem for the individual to solve with only his own power”.[17] Up to the 1980s, when neoliberalism began to provide an alternative, aggressively pro-capitalist model for ensuring social quiescence, the SAP was able to secure capital's co-operation by convincing capital that it shared the goals of increasing economic growth and reducing social friction. For many social democrats, Marxism is loosely held to be valuable for its emphasis on changing the world for a more just, better future.[18] In 1889, Hjalmar Branting, leader of the SAP from its founding to his death in 1925, asserted, "I believe...that one benefits the much more by forcing through reforms which alleviate and strengthen their position, than by saying that only a revolution can help them."[19] Some observers have argued that this liberal aspect has hardened into increasingly neoliberal ideology and policies, gradually maximizing the latitude of powerful market actors.[20] Certainly, neoclassical economists have been firmly nudging the Social Democratic Party into capitulating to most of capital's traditional preferences and prerogatives, which they term "modern industrial relations".[21] Both socialist and liberal aspects of the party were influenced by the dual sympathies of early leader Hjalmar Branting, and manifest in the party’s first actions: reducing the work day to eight hours and establishing the franchise for working-class people.

Prime Minister Tage Erlander at a TV debate in 1967


The party's first chapter in its statutes says "the intension of the Swedish Social Democratic Labour Party is the struggle towards the Democratic Socialism," that is, a society with a democratic economy based on the socialist principle, "socialist tradition foregrounding widespread and individual human development.[15] Gunnar Adler-Karlsson (1967) confidently likened the social democratic project to the successful social democratic effort to divest the king of all power but formal grandeur: “Without dangerous and disruptive internal fights…After a few decades they (capitalists) will then remain, perhaps formally as kings, but in reality as naked symbols of a passed and inferior development state.”[16] However, so far this socialist ambition has not materialised.

Hjalmar Branting was elected the first Social Democratic Prime Minister in 1920

Political impact and history

Election year # of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
+/– Notes
1995 752,817 28.1 (#1)
7 / 22
1999 657,497 26.0 (#1)
6 / 22
Decrease 1
2004 616,963 24.6 (#1)
5 / 19
Decrease 1
2009 773,513 24.4 (#1)
5 / 18
6 / 20
Steady 0
Increase 1
2014 899,074 24.2 (#1)
5 / 20
Decrease 1

European Parliament

Election year # of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
+/– Government Notes
1932 1,040,689 41,7 (#1)
104 / 233
Increase 14 in minority
1936 1,338,120 45.9 (#1)
112 / 233
Increase 9 in minority
1940 1,546,804 53.8 (#1)
134 / 233
Increase 22 in majority
1944 1,436,571 46.6 (#1)
115 / 233
Decrease 19 in minority
1948 1,789,459 46.1 (#1)
112 / 233
Decrease 3 in minority
1952 1,729,463 46.1 (#1)
110 / 233
Decrease 2 in coalition
1956 1,729,463 44.6 (#1)
106 / 233
Decrease 4 in coalition
1958 1,776,667 46.2 (#1)
111 / 233
Increase 5 in minority
1960 2,033,016 47.8 (#1)
114 / 233
Increase 3 in minority
1964 2,006,923 47.3 (#1)
113 / 233
Decrease 1 in minority
1968 2,420,242 50.1 (#1)
125 / 233
Increase 12 in majority
1970 2,256,369 45.3 (#1)
163 / 350
Increase 38 in minority
1973 2,247,727 43.6 (#1)
156 / 350
Decrease 7 in minority
1976 2,324,603 42.7 (#1)
152 / 349
Decrease 4 in opposition
1979 2,356,234 43.2 (#1)
154 / 349
Increase 2 in opposition
1982 2,533,250 45.6 (#1)
166 / 349
Increase 12 in minority
1985 2,487,551 44.7 (#1)
159 / 349
Decrease 7 in minority
1988 2,321,826 43.2 (#1)
156 / 349
Decrease 3 in minority
1991 2,062,761 37.7 (#1)
138 / 349
Decrease 18 in opposition
1994 2,513,905 45.3 (#1)
161 / 349
Increase 23 in minority
1998 1,914,426 36.4 (#1)
131 / 349
Decrease 30 in minority
2002 2,113,560 39.9 (#1)
144 / 349
Increase 13 in minority
2006 1,942,625 35.0 (#1)
130 / 349
Decrease 14 in opposition
2010 1,827,497 30.7 (#1)
112 / 349
Decrease 18 in opposition
2014 1,932,711 31.0 (#1)
113 / 349
Increase 1 in minority


Social Democratic Party results by group,
VALU 2010[13]
Group Votes
Avg. result
+/− (pp)
Members of LO 51 +24
On sick leave 51 +24
Raised outside Sweden 49 +22
Blue-collar workers 41 +14
Unemployed 39 +12
Local government employees 34 +7
Aged 65+ 34 +7
Public sector employees 32 +5
Government employees 29 +2
Females 29 +2
Aged 18–21 28 +1
First-time voters 28 +1
Aged 31–64 27 0
Members of TCO 26 -1
Students 25 -2
Males 25 -2
Aged 22–30 24 -3
Farmers 24 -3
Private sector employees 23 -4
Employed persons 22 -5
White-collar workers 20 -7
Members of SACO 18 -9
Business owners 16 -11
All groups (total) 27 0

Electoral history

In the 2006 general election, the Social Democratic Party received the smallest share of votes (34.99%) ever in a general election with universal suffrage, resulting in the loss of office to the opposition, the centre-right coalition Alliance for Sweden.[11] Among the support that the Social Democratic Party lost in the 2006 election was the vote of pensioners (down 10% from the 2002 election), and blue-collar trade unionists (down 5%). The combined Social Democratic Party and Left Party vote of citizens with non-Nordic foreign backgrounds sank from 73% in 2002 down to 48% in 2006. Stockholm County typically votes for the centre-right parties. Only 23% of Stockholm City residents voted for the Social Democratic Party in 2006.[12]

2006 election results


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