Swedish Social Democratic Party
572 / 1,597
4,364 / 12,780
The Swedish Social Democratic Party, formally the Swedish Social Democratic Workers' Party
From the mid-1930s to the 1980s, the Social Democratic Party won more than 40% of the vote. From 1932 to 1976, the SAP was continuously in government. Most recently, the party was heading the government from 2014 to 2022. It participates in elections as "The Workers' Party – The Social Democrats" (Swedish: Arbetarepartiet – Socialdemokraterna [ˈârːbeːtarɛpaˌʈiːɛt sʊsɪˈɑ̂ːldɛmʊˌkrɑːtɛɳa] (listen)).
Founded in 1889 as a member of the
Swedish social democracy rose due to the extension of suffrage to the working class and the organizing of trade unions and other civic associations. Unlike in many other European countries, the Swedish socialist left was able to form a stable majority coalition during the early 20th century. Early on, in large part due to the leadership of Hjalmar Branting, the Swedish socialists adopted a flexible and pragmatic understanding of Marxism. They were also willing to form cross-class coalitions with liberals and farmers. Political scientist Sheri Berman also credits the Swedish Social Democratic success during the interwar years to the party's adoption of Keynesianism during the Great Depression (which she contrasts with the Social Democratic Party of Germany's reluctance towards Keynesian policies during the same time and the German Social Democrats' subsequent decline).
In 2007, the Social Democrats elected
Party organisation and voter base
|Part of a series on|
Currently, the SAP has about 100,000 members, with about 2,540 local party associations and 500 workplace associations.[
Organisations within the Swedish Social Democratic movement include:
- The National Federation of Social Democratic Women in Sweden (S-kvinnor) organizes women.
- The Swedish Social Democratic Youth League organizes youth.
- The Social Democratic Students of Sweden organizes university students.
- The Religious Social Democrats of Sweden organizes all members with religious beliefs.
- The LGBT Social Democrats of Sweden (Swedish: HBT-Socialdemokraterna [hoːbeːˈteː sʊsɪˈɑ̂ːldɛmʊˌkrɑːtɛɳa] (listen)) organizes LGBT-people.
The SAP had its golden age during the mid-1930s to mid-1980s when in half of all general elections it received between 44.6% and 46.2% (averaging 45.3%) of the votes, making it one of the most successful parties in the history of the
In two of the general elections in
The voter base consists of a diverse swathe of people throughout Swedish society, although it is particularly strong amongst organised blue-collar workers.
Decline since 2006
From 2006 to
Statistical changes in voter base
Socio-economic groups and gender of voters
|Percentage of which voting for the Social Democrats|
|Businessmen and farmers||18||13||16||15||13||19|
In the 1890s, the Social Democrats usually stood on the same ticket as the Liberals.
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Ideology, political impact and history
The party's first chapter in its statutes says "the intention of the Swedish Social Democratic Labour Party is the struggle towards
In 1967, Gunnar Adler-Karlsson 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 [the capitalists] will then remain, perhaps formally as kings, but in reality as naked symbols of a passed and inferior development state."
The Social Democrats are strong supporters of
Liberalism has also strongly infused social-democratic ideology. Liberalism has oriented social democratic goals to security. 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". 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. In 1889, Hjalmar Branting, leader of the SAP from its founding to his death in 1925, asserted: "I believe that one benefits the workers so much more by forcing through reforms which alleviate and strengthen their position, than by saying that only a revolution can help them".
Some observers have argued that this liberal aspect has hardened into increasingly neoliberal ideology and policies, gradually maximizing the latitude of powerful market actors. 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". 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, namely reducing the work day to eight hours and establishing the franchise for working-class people.
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.
Among the social movement tactics of the Swedish Social Democratic Party in the 20th century was its
While the SAP has worked more or less constructively with more
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.
The Social Democratic Party is generally recognized as the main architect of the
These social democratic policies have had international influence. The early Swedish
Under the Social Democrats' administration, Sweden retained
From Rehn–Meidner to neoliberalism
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. Capitalists immediately distinguished this proposal as socialism, and launched an unprecedented opposition—including calling off the class compromise established in the 1938 Saltsjöbaden Agreement.
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.
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,
When the Social Democrats returned to power in 1994, they responded to the fiscal crisis
In the 21st century, many of the aspects of the social-democratic
The Social Democratic Party pursues
The Social Democratic Party was defeated in 2006 by the
Stefan Löfven, elected by the party board, succeeded Juholt as party leader. Löfven led the Social Democratic Party into the 2014 European Parliament election which resulted in the party's worst electoral results at national level since universal suffrage was introduced in 1921. He then led the party into the 2014 Swedish general election which resulted in the party's second worst election result to the Riksdag since universal suffrage was introduced in 1921. With a hung parliament, Löfven formed a minority coalition government with the Green Party. On 2 October 2014, the Riksdag approved Löfven to become the country's Prime Minister and he took office on 3 October 2014 alongside his Cabinet. The Social Democratic Party and the Green Party voted in favour of Löfvén becoming Prime Minister while the Left Party, a close ally of the SAP, abstained. The oppositional Alliance-parties also abstained while the Sweden Democrats voted against.
In the 2018 Swedish general election, the Social Democrats' vote share fell to 28.3 percent, its lowest level of support since 1911. Nevertheless, a Social Democrat and Green Party coalition government was formed in January 2019. Relying on support of the Centre Party and the Liberals, it is one of the weakest governments in Swedish history.
In August 2021, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven announced his resignation and finance minister Magdalena Andersson was elected as the new head of Sweden's ruling Social Democrats in November 2021. On 30 November 2021, Magdalena Andersson became Sweden's first female prime minister. She formed a minority government made up of only her Social Democrats. Her plan for forming a new coalition government with the Green Party was unsuccessful because her budget proposal failed to pass.
On 18 October 2022, conservative leader Ulf Kristersson became new Prime Minister to succeed Magdalena Andersson, meaning the Social Democratic Party, although still Sweden’s largest party, was in the opposition.
|Party leader||Period||Party secretary|
|Karl Magnus Ziesnitz|
Carl Gustaf Wickman
|First party leader after collective leadership.|
|Carl Gustaf Wickman|
|Prime Minister (1920, 1921–1923 and 1924–1925). Died in office.|
|Per Albin Hansson||
|Prime Minister (1932–1936 and 1936–1946). Died in office.|
|Prime Minister (1946–1969). Longest-serving Prime Minister in Swedish history.|
|Prime Minister (1969–1976 and 1982–1986). Assassinated.|
|Prime Minister (1986–1991 and 1994–1996).|
|Prime Minister (1996–2006).|
|First female leader of the party.|
|Resigned after a scandal.|
Lena Rådström Baastad
|Prime Minister (2014–2021)|
|Prime Minister (2021–2022)|
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