Olof Palme

Olof Palme

Overview
Sven Olof Joachim Palme (30 January 1927 28 February 1986) was a Swedish
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 politician
Politician
A politician, political leader, or political figure is an individual who is involved in influencing public policy and decision making...

. A long-time protegé of Prime Minister Tage Erlander
Tage Erlander
was a Swedish politician. He was the leader of the Swedish Social Democratic Party and Prime Minister of Sweden from 1946 to 1969...

, Palme led the Swedish Social Democratic Party
Swedish Social Democratic Party
The Swedish Social Democratic Workers' Party, , contesting elections as 'the Workers' Party – the Social Democrats' , or sometimes referred to just as 'the Social Democrats' and most commonly as Sossarna ; is the oldest and largest political party in Sweden. The party was founded in 1889...

 from 1969 to his assassination, and was a two-term Prime Minister of Sweden
Prime Minister of Sweden
The Prime Minister is the head of government in the Kingdom of Sweden. Before the creation of the office of a Prime Minister in 1876, Sweden did not have a head of government separate from its head of state, namely the King, in whom the executive authority was vested...

, heading a Privy Council Government
Privy Council of Sweden
The High Council of Sweden or Council of the Realm consisted originally of those men of noble, common and clergical background, that the king saw fit for advisory service...

 from 1969 to 1976 and a cabinet government
Government of Sweden
The Government of the Kingdom of Sweden is the supreme executive authority of Sweden. It consists of the Prime Minister and cabinet ministers appointed by the Prime Minister. The Government is responsible for their actions to the Riksdag, which is the legislative assembly...

 from 1982 until his death. His electoral defeat in 1976
Swedish general election, 1976
Elections to the Swedish Riksdag held September 19, 1976. The result ended in an expected coalition government between the agrarian Centre Party, the Liberal People's Party and the conservative Moderate Party, thus forming Sweden's first non-socialist government since 1936...

 marked the end of 40 unbroken years of Social Democratic government, and he was forced into opposition. Serving as special mediator of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 in the Iran-Iraq war
Iran-Iraq War
The Iran–Iraq War was an armed conflict between the armed forces of Iraq and Iran, lasting from September 1980 to August 1988, making it the longest conventional war of the twentieth century...

, he returned to power in the 1982 election
Swedish general election, 1982
Elections to the Swedish Riksdag held 19 September 1982 and saw the return of the Swedish Social Democratic Party to power after six years in opposition, the longest period in opposition by the Social Democrats since the 1910s...

.

A pivotal, renowned, and polarizing figure domestically as well as in international politics since the 1960s
1960s
The 1960s was the decade that started on January 1, 1960, and ended on December 31, 1969. It was the seventh decade of the 20th century.The 1960s term also refers to an era more often called The Sixties, denoting the complex of inter-related cultural and political trends across the globe...

 until his death, Palme held steadfast to traditional Swedish non-alignment
Non-Aligned Movement
The Non-Aligned Movement is a group of states considering themselves not aligned formally with or against any major power bloc. As of 2011, the movement had 120 members and 17 observer countries...

 juxtaposed to vocal, political, and financial support of third world liberation movements following the process of decolonization
Decolonization
Decolonization refers to the undoing of colonialism, the unequal relation of polities whereby one people or nation establishes and maintains dependent Territory over another...

, including, most controversially, several Marxist and totalitarian regimes.
Discussion
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Quotations

The rights of democracy are not reserved for a select group within society, they are the rights of all the people.

Human beings will find a balanced situation when they do good things not because God says it, but because they feel like doing them.

Apartheid cannot be reformed. It has to be eliminated.

Apartheid is a unique form of evil. It is a form of tyranny that burn marks an individual from birth only because of the color of her skin. The fate of a child is determined at the very instant of conception.

My generation is haunted by the images of the Jewish children in the ghettos and the concentration camps. The crimes committed against them caused us grief that haunts us through our lives. But for the very same raison d'être we feel outraged by the images of persecuted Palestinian children, and this time it is Israel that is responsible for the offenses.

Werner [Swedish communist leader] is getting used to publicly denouncing the misdeeds of his fellow party members around the World. But he should perhaps start asking himself if it is not Leninism itself that is to blame. Parlament speech, 1980, on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Encyclopedia
Sven Olof Joachim Palme (30 January 1927 28 February 1986) was a Swedish
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 politician
Politician
A politician, political leader, or political figure is an individual who is involved in influencing public policy and decision making...

. A long-time protegé of Prime Minister Tage Erlander
Tage Erlander
was a Swedish politician. He was the leader of the Swedish Social Democratic Party and Prime Minister of Sweden from 1946 to 1969...

, Palme led the Swedish Social Democratic Party
Swedish Social Democratic Party
The Swedish Social Democratic Workers' Party, , contesting elections as 'the Workers' Party – the Social Democrats' , or sometimes referred to just as 'the Social Democrats' and most commonly as Sossarna ; is the oldest and largest political party in Sweden. The party was founded in 1889...

 from 1969 to his assassination, and was a two-term Prime Minister of Sweden
Prime Minister of Sweden
The Prime Minister is the head of government in the Kingdom of Sweden. Before the creation of the office of a Prime Minister in 1876, Sweden did not have a head of government separate from its head of state, namely the King, in whom the executive authority was vested...

, heading a Privy Council Government
Privy Council of Sweden
The High Council of Sweden or Council of the Realm consisted originally of those men of noble, common and clergical background, that the king saw fit for advisory service...

 from 1969 to 1976 and a cabinet government
Government of Sweden
The Government of the Kingdom of Sweden is the supreme executive authority of Sweden. It consists of the Prime Minister and cabinet ministers appointed by the Prime Minister. The Government is responsible for their actions to the Riksdag, which is the legislative assembly...

 from 1982 until his death. His electoral defeat in 1976
Swedish general election, 1976
Elections to the Swedish Riksdag held September 19, 1976. The result ended in an expected coalition government between the agrarian Centre Party, the Liberal People's Party and the conservative Moderate Party, thus forming Sweden's first non-socialist government since 1936...

 marked the end of 40 unbroken years of Social Democratic government, and he was forced into opposition. Serving as special mediator of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 in the Iran-Iraq war
Iran-Iraq War
The Iran–Iraq War was an armed conflict between the armed forces of Iraq and Iran, lasting from September 1980 to August 1988, making it the longest conventional war of the twentieth century...

, he returned to power in the 1982 election
Swedish general election, 1982
Elections to the Swedish Riksdag held 19 September 1982 and saw the return of the Swedish Social Democratic Party to power after six years in opposition, the longest period in opposition by the Social Democrats since the 1910s...

.

A pivotal, renowned, and polarizing figure domestically as well as in international politics since the 1960s
1960s
The 1960s was the decade that started on January 1, 1960, and ended on December 31, 1969. It was the seventh decade of the 20th century.The 1960s term also refers to an era more often called The Sixties, denoting the complex of inter-related cultural and political trends across the globe...

 until his death, Palme held steadfast to traditional Swedish non-alignment
Non-Aligned Movement
The Non-Aligned Movement is a group of states considering themselves not aligned formally with or against any major power bloc. As of 2011, the movement had 120 members and 17 observer countries...

 juxtaposed to vocal, political, and financial support of third world liberation movements following the process of decolonization
Decolonization
Decolonization refers to the undoing of colonialism, the unequal relation of polities whereby one people or nation establishes and maintains dependent Territory over another...

, including, most controversially, several Marxist and totalitarian regimes. In 1975, he was the first head of a Western democratic government to visit Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

 after its revolution
Cuban Revolution
The Cuban Revolution was an armed revolt by Fidel Castro's 26th of July Movement against the regime of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista between 1953 and 1959. Batista was finally ousted on 1 January 1959, and was replaced by a revolutionary government led by Castro...

, holding a speech on Plaza de la Revolución
Plaza de la Revolucion
Plaza de la Revolución is a municipality and a square in Havana, Cuba.The municipality stretches from the square down to the sea at the Malecón and includes the Vedado district.- Square :...

 praising Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro
Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz is a Cuban revolutionary and politician, having held the position of Prime Minister of Cuba from 1959 to 1976, and then President from 1976 to 2008. He also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from the party's foundation in 1961 until 2011...

's government.

Frequently a critic of US and Soviet foreign policy, he resorted to vocal and often harsh criticism to pinpoint resistance towards imperialist ambitions
Imperialism
Imperialism, as defined by Dictionary of Human Geography, is "the creation and/or maintenance of an unequal economic, cultural, and territorial relationships, usually between states and often in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination." The imperialism of the last 500 years,...

 and authoritarian regimes, including those of Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco y Bahamonde was a Spanish general, dictator and head of state of Spain from October 1936 , and de facto regent of the nominally restored Kingdom of Spain from 1947 until his death in November, 1975...

 of Spain, Gustav Husak
Gustáv Husák
Gustáv Husák was a Slovak politician, president of Czechoslovakia and a long-term Communist leader of Czechoslovakia and of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia...

 of Czechoslovakia, and B J Vorster and P W Botha of South Africa. Palme's steadfast opposition to apartheid has made theories of South African involvement in his death some of the most prolific, even a quarter of a century after his assassination. His murder on a street in Stockholm on February 28, 1986 was the first of its kind in modern Swedish history and had a great impact across Scandinavia
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

.

Early life


Palme was born into an upper-class, conservative family in Östermalm, Stockholm
Stockholm
Stockholm is the capital and the largest city of Sweden and constitutes the most populated urban area in Scandinavia. Stockholm is the most populous city in Sweden, with a population of 851,155 in the municipality , 1.37 million in the urban area , and around 2.1 million in the metropolitan area...

, Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

. His father, a businessman, was of Dutch
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 ancestry and his mother, Freiin von Knieriem, was of Baltic German
Baltic German
The Baltic Germans were mostly ethnically German inhabitants of the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea, which today form the countries of Estonia and Latvia. The Baltic German population never made up more than 10% of the total. They formed the social, commercial, political and cultural élite in...

 origin. Palme's father died when he was six years old. Despite his upper class background, his political orientation came to be influenced by Social Democratic
Social democracy
Social democracy is a political ideology of the center-left on the political spectrum. Social democracy is officially a form of evolutionary reformist socialism. It supports class collaboration as the course to achieve socialism...

 attitudes. His travels in the Third World
Third World
The term Third World arose during the Cold War to define countries that remained non-aligned with either capitalism and NATO , or communism and the Soviet Union...

, as well as the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 – where he saw deep economic inequality
Economic inequality
Economic inequality comprises all disparities in the distribution of economic assets and income. The term typically refers to inequality among individuals and groups within a society, but can also refer to inequality among countries. The issue of economic inequality is related to the ideas of...

 and racial segregation
Racial segregation in the United States
Racial segregation in the United States, as a general term, included the racial segregation or hypersegregation of facilities, services, and opportunities such as housing, medical care, education, employment, and transportation along racial lines...

 – helped to develop these views.

A sickly child, Olof Palme received his education from private tutors. Even as a child he gained knowledge of two foreign languages. He studied at the Sigtuna School of Liberal Arts, one of Sweden's few residential high schools, and passed the university entrance examination with high marks at the early age of 17. He did brief military service
Military service
Military service, in its simplest sense, is service by an individual or group in an army or other militia, whether as a chosen job or as a result of an involuntary draft . Some nations require a specific amount of military service from every citizen...

 and enrolled at the University of Stockholm.

On a scholarship, he studied at Kenyon College
Kenyon College
Kenyon College is a private liberal arts college in Gambier, Ohio, founded in 1824 by Bishop Philander Chase of The Episcopal Church, in parallel with the Bexley Hall seminary. It is the oldest private college in Ohio...

, Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

 1947–1948, graduating with a B.A.
Bachelor of Arts
A Bachelor of Arts , from the Latin artium baccalaureus, is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, the sciences, or both...

 in less than a year. Inspired by radical debate in the student community, he wrote a critical essay on Friedrich Hayek
Friedrich Hayek
Friedrich August Hayek CH , born in Austria-Hungary as Friedrich August von Hayek, was an economist and philosopher best known for his defense of classical liberalism and free-market capitalism against socialist and collectivist thought...

's The Road to Serfdom
The Road to Serfdom
The Road to Serfdom is a book written by the Austrian-born economist and philosopher Friedrich von Hayek between 1940–1943, in which he "warned of the danger of tyranny that inevitably results from government control of economic decision-making through central planning," and in which he argues...

. Palme wrote his senior honor thesis on the United Auto Workers
United Auto Workers
The International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, better known as the United Auto Workers , is a labor union which represents workers in the United States and Puerto Rico, and formerly in Canada. Founded as part of the Congress of Industrial...

 union, led at the time by Walter Reuther
Walter Reuther
Walter Philip Reuther was an American labor union leader, who made the United Automobile Workers a major force not only in the auto industry but also in the Democratic Party in the mid 20th century...

. After graduation he traveled throughout the country and eventually ended up in Detroit, where his hero Reuther agreed to an interview which lasted several hours. In later years, Palme regularly remarked during his many subsequent American visits, that the United States had made him a socialist, a remark that often has caused confusion. Within the context of his American experience, it was not that Palme was repelled by what he found in America, but rather that he was inspired by it.

After hitchhiking
Hitchhiking
Hitchhiking is a means of transportation that is gained by asking people, usually strangers, for a ride in their automobile or other road vehicle to travel a distance that may either be short or long...

 through the USA and Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

, he returned to Sweden to study law at Stockholm University
Stockholm University
Stockholm University is a state university in Stockholm, Sweden. It has over 28,000 students at four faculties, making it one of the largest universities in Scandinavia. The institution is also frequently regarded as one of the top 100 universities in the world...

. In 1949 he became a member of the Swedish Social Democratic Party
Swedish Social Democratic Party
The Swedish Social Democratic Workers' Party, , contesting elections as 'the Workers' Party – the Social Democrats' , or sometimes referred to just as 'the Social Democrats' and most commonly as Sossarna ; is the oldest and largest political party in Sweden. The party was founded in 1889...

. During his time at university, Palme became involved in student politics, working with the Swedish National Union of Students
Swedish National Union of Students
The Swedish National Union of Students , is an umbrella organisation of students' unions at higher education facilities in Sweden. The organisation was founded in 1921...

. In 1951, he became a member of the social democratic student association in Stockholm, although it is asserted he did not attend their political meetings at the time. The following year he was elected President of the Swedish National Union of Students. As a student politician he concentrated on international affairs and traveled across Europe.

Palme attributed his becoming a socialist to three major influences:
  • In 1947, he attended a debate on taxes between the Social Democrat Ernst Wigforss
    Ernst Wigforss
    Ernst Johannes Wigforss was a Swedish politician and linguist , mostly known as a prominent member of the Social Democratic Workers' Party and Swedish Minister of Finance...

    , the conservative Jarl Hjalmarson
    Jarl Hjalmarson
    Jarl Harald Hjalmarson , was the leader of the conservative Swedish Rightist Party , today known as the Moderate Party, between 1950 and 1961.-Family:...

     and the liberal Elon Andersson;
  • The time he spent in the United States in the 1940s made him realise how wide the class divide was in America, and the extent of racism
    Racism
    Racism is the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination. In the modern English language, the term "racism" is used predominantly as a pejorative epithet. It is applied especially to the practice or advocacy of racial discrimination of a pernicious nature...

     against black people
    Black people
    The term black people is used in systems of racial classification for humans of a dark skinned phenotype, relative to other racial groups.Different societies apply different criteria regarding who is classified as "black", and often social variables such as class, socio-economic status also plays a...

    ; and,
  • A trip to Asia
    Asia
    Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

    , specifically India
    India
    India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

    , Ceylon (Sri Lanka
    Sri Lanka
    Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

    ), Burma, Thailand
    Thailand
    Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

    , Singapore
    Singapore
    Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

    , Indonesia
    Indonesia
    Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

    , and Japan
    Japan
    Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

     in 1953 had opened his eyes to the consequences of colonialism
    Colonialism
    Colonialism is the establishment, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. It is a process whereby the metropole claims sovereignty over the colony and the social structure, government, and economics of the colony are changed by...

     and imperialism
    Imperialism
    Imperialism, as defined by Dictionary of Human Geography, is "the creation and/or maintenance of an unequal economic, cultural, and territorial relationships, usually between states and often in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination." The imperialism of the last 500 years,...

    .

Political career



In 1953, Palme was recruited by the social democratic prime minister Tage Erlander
Tage Erlander
was a Swedish politician. He was the leader of the Swedish Social Democratic Party and Prime Minister of Sweden from 1946 to 1969...

 to work in his secretariat. From 1955 he was a board member of the Swedish Social Democratic Youth League
Swedish Social Democratic Youth League
The Swedish Social Democratic Youth League is a branch of the Swedish social democratic party Socialdemokraterna and the Swedish Trade Union Confederation...

 and lectured at the Youth League College Bommersvik
Bommersvik
Bommersvik is a Union college built by the Swedish Social Democratic Youth League and is situated outside the municipality of Södertälje in Sweden. Parts of the college grounds encompass a conference centre and recreational facilities that are extensively used by social democratic organizations...

. He also was a member of the Worker's Educational Association.

In 1957 he was elected as an Member of Parliament
Member of Parliament
A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...

 (Swedish: riksdagsledamot) represented Jönköping
Jönköping
-Notable people:*Lillian Asplund, RMS Titanic survivor*John Bauer, illustrator, painter*Amy Diamond, singer*Agnetha Fältskog, ABBA*Carl Henrik Fredriksson, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Eurozine*Anders Gustafsson, kayaker, Olympian...

 County in the directly-elected second chamber ("andra kammaren").
In the early 1960s Palme became a member of the Swedish Agency for International Assistance and was in charge of inquiries into assistance to the developing countries and educational aid. In 1963, he became a member of the Cabinet - as Minister without Portfolio
Minister without Portfolio
A minister without portfolio is either a government minister with no specific responsibilities or a minister that does not head a particular ministry...

 in the Cabinet Office, and retained his duties as a close political adviser to Prime Minister Tage Erlander
Tage Erlander
was a Swedish politician. He was the leader of the Swedish Social Democratic Party and Prime Minister of Sweden from 1946 to 1969...

. In 1965, he became Minister of Transport and Communications. One issue of special interest to him was the further development of radio and television, while ensuring their independence from commercial interests. In 1967 he became Minister of Education
Ministry of Education and Research (Sweden)
The Ministry of Education and Research is a government ministry in Sweden responsible for matters relating to schools, universities, colleges, and research.Before 1968 the ministry were called the Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs....

, and the following year, he was the target of strong criticism from left-wing students protesting against the government's plans for university reform. The protests culminated with the occupation of the Student Union Building
Occupation of the Student Union Building
The occupation of the Student Union Building was one of the most talked about events in Sweden in 1968. Students at Stockholm University decided to occupy their own Student Union Building at Holländargatan in Stockholm on 24 May-27 May 1968 to send a political message to the government.The students...

 in Stockholm; Palme came there and tried to confornt the students, urging them to use democratic methods for the pursuit of their cause. When party leader Tage Erlander
Tage Erlander
was a Swedish politician. He was the leader of the Swedish Social Democratic Party and Prime Minister of Sweden from 1946 to 1969...

 stepped down in 1969, Palme was elected as the new leader by the Social Democratic party congress and succeeded Erlander as Prime Minister.

His protégé and political ally, Bernt Carlsson
Bernt Carlsson
Bernt Wilmar Carlsson was Assistant-Secretary-General of the United Nations and United Nations Commissioner for Namibia from July 1987 until he died on Pan Am Flight 103, which was blown up over Lockerbie, Scotland on 21 December 1988.-Social democrat:A native of Stockholm, Carlsson joined the...

, who was appointed UN
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 Commissioner for Namibia
Namibia
Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia , is a country in southern Africa whose western border is the Atlantic Ocean. It shares land borders with Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. It gained independence from South Africa on 21 March...

 in July 1987, also suffered an untimely death. Carlsson was killed in the Libyan terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103
Pan Am Flight 103
Pan Am Flight 103 was Pan American World Airways' third daily scheduled transatlantic flight from London Heathrow Airport to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport...

 over Lockerbie
Lockerbie
Lockerbie is a town in the Dumfries and Galloway region of south-western Scotland. It lies approximately from Glasgow, and from the English border. It had a population of 4,009 at the 2001 census...

, Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 on December 21, 1988 en route to the UN signing ceremony of the New York Accords
New York Accords
The Tripartite Accord, Three Powers Accord or New York Accords granted independence to Namibia and ended the direct involvement of foreign troops in the Angolan Civil War...

 the following day.

Palme was said to have had a profound impact on people's emotions; he was very popular among most left-wing sympathizers, although an outspoken anti-communist, but harshly detested by most liberals and conservatives. This was due in part to his international activities, especially those directed against the US foreign policy, and in part to his aggressive and outspoken debating style.

Policies




As leader of a new generation of Swedish Social Democrats, Olof Palme was often described as a "revolutionary reformist".
Domestically, his socialist views—especially the Social Democrat drive to expand Labour Union influence over business—engendered a great deal of hostility from more conservatively inclined Swedes.

Olof Palme carried out major reforms in the Swedish constitution such as orchestrating a switch from bicameralism
Bicameralism
In the government, bicameralism is the practice of having two legislative or parliamentary chambers. Thus, a bicameral parliament or bicameral legislature is a legislature which consists of two chambers or houses....

 to unicameralism
Unicameralism
In government, unicameralism is the practice of having one legislative or parliamentary chamber. Thus, a unicameral parliament or unicameral legislature is a legislature which consists of one chamber or house...

 in 1969 and in 1975 replacing the 166-year-old Instrument of Government (at the time the oldest political constitution in the world after that of the United States
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

) with a new one officially establishing parliamentary democracy rather than de jure monarchic autocracy, abolishing the Privy Council of Sweden
Privy Council of Sweden
The High Council of Sweden or Council of the Realm consisted originally of those men of noble, common and clergical background, that the king saw fit for advisory service...

 and stripping King Carl XVI Gustav of most rights held even by ceremonial monarchs in Denmark, Norway and the United Kingdom.

His reforms on labour market included establishing a law which increased job security
Job security
Job security is the probability that an individual will keep his or her job; a job with a high level of job security is such that a person with the job would have a small chance of becoming unemployed.-Factors affecting job security:...

. In the Swedish 1973 general election the Socialist-Communist and the Liberal-Conservative blocs got 175 places each in the parliament. The Palme administration continued to govern the country but several times they had to draw lots to decide on some issues, although most important issues were decided through concessional agreement.

Under Olof Palme's government matters concerned with child care centers, social security
Social security
Social security is primarily a social insurance program providing social protection or protection against socially recognized conditions, including poverty, old age, disability, unemployment and others. Social security may refer to:...

, protection of the elderly, accident safety, and housing
House
A house is a building or structure that has the ability to be occupied for dwelling by human beings or other creatures. The term house includes many kinds of different dwellings ranging from rudimentary huts of nomadic tribes to free standing individual structures...

 problems received special attention. Under Palme the public health
Public health
Public health is "the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through the organized efforts and informed choices of society, organizations, public and private, communities and individuals" . It is concerned with threats to health based on population health...

 system in Sweden became incredibly efficient, with the infant mortality rate standing at 12 per 1,000 live births. An ambitious redistributive programme was carried out, with the Swedish welfare state significantly expanding from a position already one of the most far-reaching in the world during his time in office, while tax rates rose from being fairly low even by European standards to the highest levels in the free world.

An outspoken supporter of gender equality, Palme sparkled interest for women's' rights issues by attending a World Women's Conference in Mexico. In 1968 Palme was a driving force behind the release of documentary Dom kallar oss mods. The controversial movie, depicting two social outcasts, was scheduled to be released in an edited form but Palme thought the material was too socially important to be cut.

As a forerunner in green politics
Green politics
Green politics is a political ideology that aims for the creation of an ecologically sustainable society rooted in environmentalism, social liberalism, and grassroots democracy...

 Olof Palme was a firm believer in nuclear power
Nuclear power
Nuclear power is the use of sustained nuclear fission to generate heat and electricity. Nuclear power plants provide about 6% of the world's energy and 13–14% of the world's electricity, with the U.S., France, and Japan together accounting for about 50% of nuclear generated electricity...

 as a necessary form of energy, at least for a transitional period to curb the influence of fossile fuel. His intervention in Sweden's 1980 referendum on the future of nuclear power is often pinpointed by opponents of nuclear power as saving it. As of 2011, nuclear power remains one of the most important sources of energy in Sweden, much attributed to Palme's actions.

Shortly before his assassination, Palme had been accused of being pro-Soviet and not sufficiently safeguarding Sweden's national interest. Arrangements had therefore been made for him to go to Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 to discuss a number of contentious bilateral issues, including alleged Soviet submarine incursions into Swedish waters (see U 137).

On the international scene, Palme was a widely recognised political figure because of his:
  • harsh and emotional criticism of the United States
    United States
    The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

     over the Vietnam War
    Vietnam War
    The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

    ;
  • vocal opposition to the crushing of the Prague Spring
    Prague Spring
    The Prague Spring was a period of political liberalization in Czechoslovakia during the era of its domination by the Soviet Union after World War II...

     by the Soviet Union
    Soviet Union
    The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

    ;
  • criticism of European Communist regimes, including labeling the Husak
    Gustáv Husák
    Gustáv Husák was a Slovak politician, president of Czechoslovakia and a long-term Communist leader of Czechoslovakia and of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia...

     regime as "cattle of dictatorship" (Swedish: "Diktaturens kreatur") in 1975;
  • campaigning against nuclear weapons proliferation;
  • criticism of the Franco Regime in Spain
    Spain
    Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

    , calling the regime "devilish murderers" (Swedish: "Satans mördare") after its execution of ETA
    ETA
    ETA , an acronym for Euskadi Ta Askatasuna is an armed Basque nationalist and separatist organization. The group was founded in 1959 and has since evolved from a group promoting traditional Basque culture to a paramilitary group with the goal of gaining independence for the Greater Basque Country...

     and FRAP
    Frente Revolucionario Antifascista y Patriótico
    The Frente Revolucionario Antifascista y Patriótico , sometimes also called Frente Revolucionario Antifascista y Patriota , better known by its acronym FRAP, was a radical Spanish Marxist-Leninist revolutionary organization that operated in the 1970s.-History:FRAP began operating around 1971 in the...

     nationalists in September 1975;
  • opposition to apartheid
    History of South Africa in the apartheid era
    Apartheid was a system of racial segregation enforced by the National Party governments of South Africa between 1948 and 1994, under which the rights of the majority 'non-white' inhabitants of South Africa were curtailed and white supremacy and Afrikaner minority rule was maintained...

    , branding it as "a particularly gruesome system", and support for economic sanctions
    Economic sanctions
    Economic sanctions are domestic penalties applied by one country on another for a variety of reasons. Economic sanctions include, but are not limited to, tariffs, trade barriers, import duties, and import or export quotas...

     against South Africa;
  • support – both political and financial – for the African National Congress
    African National Congress
    The African National Congress is South Africa's governing Africanist political party, supported by its tripartite alliance with the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the South African Communist Party , since the establishment of non-racial democracy in April 1994. It defines itself as a...

     (ANC) and the Palestine Liberation Organization
    Palestine Liberation Organization
    The Palestine Liberation Organization is a political and paramilitary organization which was created in 1964. It is recognized as the "sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people" by the United Nations and over 100 states with which it holds diplomatic relations, and has enjoyed...

     (PLO);
  • visiting Fidel Castro
    Fidel Castro
    Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz is a Cuban revolutionary and politician, having held the position of Prime Minister of Cuba from 1959 to 1976, and then President from 1976 to 2008. He also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from the party's foundation in 1961 until 2011...

    's Cuba
    Cuba
    The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

     in 1975, during which he denounced Fulgencio Batista
    Fulgencio Batista
    Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar was the United States-aligned Cuban President, dictator and military leader who served as the leader of Cuba from 1933 to 1944 and from 1952 to 1959, before being overthrown as a result of the Cuban Revolution....

    's government and praised contemporary Cuban and Cambodian
    Khmer Rouge
    The Khmer Rouge literally translated as Red Cambodians was the name given to the followers of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, who were the ruling party in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, led by Pol Pot, Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Son Sen and Khieu Samphan...

     revolutionaries;
  • strong criticism of the Pinochet Regime
    Chile under Pinochet
    Chile was ruled by a military dictatorship headed by Augusto Pinochet from 1973 when Salvador Allende was overthrown in a coup d'etat until 1990 when the Chilean transition to democracy began. The authoritarian military government was characterized by systematic suppression of political parties and...

     in Chile
    Chile
    Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

    ;
  • support – both political and financial – for the FMLN-FDR in El Salvador
    El Salvador
    El Salvador or simply Salvador is the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America. The country's capital city and largest city is San Salvador; Santa Ana and San Miguel are also important cultural and commercial centers in the country and in all of Central America...

     and the Nicaragua
    Nicaragua
    Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central American American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The country is situated between 11 and 14 degrees north of the Equator in the Northern Hemisphere, which places it entirely within the tropics. The Pacific Ocean...

     under FSLN; and,
  • role as a mediator in the Iran-Iraq War
    Iran-Iraq War
    The Iran–Iraq War was an armed conflict between the armed forces of Iraq and Iran, lasting from September 1980 to August 1988, making it the longest conventional war of the twentieth century...

    .


All of this ensured that Palme had many opponents (as well as many friends) abroad.

On 21 February 1968, Palme (then Minister of Education) participated in a protest in Stockholm against the U.S. involvement in the war in Vietnam
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 together with the North Vietnamese Ambassador to the Soviet Union Nguyen Tho Chan. The protest was organized by the Swedish Committee for Vietnam and Palme and Nguyen were both invited as speakers. As a result of this, the U.S. recalled its Ambassador
United States Ambassador to Sweden
The United States Ambassador to Sweden serves as the chief representative of the United States Foreign Service to the Kingdom of Sweden, and 1814 to 1905, also to Norway, which was politically aligned with Sweden...

 from Sweden and Palme was fiercely criticised by the opposition for his participation in the protest.

On 23 December 1972, Palme (then Prime Minister) made a speech in Swedish national radio where he compared the ongoing U.S. bombings of Hanoi
Operation Linebacker II
Operation Linebacker II was a US Seventh Air Force and US Navy Task Force 77 aerial bombing campaign, conducted against targets in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam during the final period of US involvement in the Vietnam War...

 to a number of historical atrocities, namely the bombing of Guernica
Bombing of Guernica
The bombing of Guernica was an aerial attack on the Basque town of Guernica, Spain, causing widespread destruction and civilian deaths, during the Spanish Civil War...

, the massacres of Oradour-sur-Glane
Oradour-sur-Glane
Oradour-sur-Glane is a commune in the Haute-Vienne department in the Limousin region in west-central France.The original village was destroyed on 10 June 1944, when 642 of its inhabitants, including women and children, were massacred by a German Waffen-SS company...

, Babi Yar
Babi Yar
Babi Yar is a ravine in the Ukrainian capital Kiev and a site of a series of massacres carried out by the Nazis during their campaign against the Soviet Union. The most notorious and the best documented of these massacres took place on September 29–30, 1941, wherein 33,771 Jews were killed in a...

, Katyn
Katyn massacre
The Katyn massacre, also known as the Katyn Forest massacre , was a mass execution of Polish nationals carried out by the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs , the Soviet secret police, in April and May 1940. The massacre was prompted by Lavrentiy Beria's proposal to execute all members of...

, Lidice
Lidice
Lidice is a village in the Czech Republic just northwest of Prague. It is built on the site of a previous village of the same name which, as part of the Nazi Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, was on orders from Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, completely destroyed by German forces in reprisal...

 and Sharpeville
Sharpeville massacre
The Sharpeville Massacre occurred on 21 March 1960, at the police station in the South African township of Sharpeville in the Transvaal . After a day of demonstrations, at which a crowd of black protesters far outnumbered the police, the South African police opened fire on the crowd, killing 69...

, and the extermination of Jews and other groups at Treblinka
Treblinka extermination camp
Treblinka was a Nazi extermination camp in occupied Poland during World War II near the village of Treblinka in the modern-day Masovian Voivodeship of Poland. The camp, which was constructed as part of Operation Reinhard, operated between and ,. During this time, approximately 850,000 men, women...

. The USA government called the comparison a "gross insult" and once again decided to freeze its diplomatic relations with Sweden (this time the freeze lasted for over a year).

Despite such associations and contrary to stated Social Democratic Party policy, Sweden had in fact secretly maintained extensive military co-operation with NATO over a long period, and was even under the protection of a US military security guarantee (see Swedish neutrality during the Cold War).

Asked about Palme, former United States Secretary of State
United States Secretary of State
The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. The Secretary is a member of the Cabinet and the highest-ranking cabinet secretary both in line of succession and order of precedence...

 Henry Kissinger
Henry Kissinger
Heinz Alfred "Henry" Kissinger is a German-born American academic, political scientist, diplomat, and businessman. He is a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. He served as National Security Advisor and later concurrently as Secretary of State in the administrations of Presidents Richard Nixon and...

 once answered that he usually disliked the people he agreed with and liked the people he disagreed with, adding dryly: "So Palme, I liked - a lot". In response to Palme's remarks in a meeting with the US ambassador to Sweden ahead of the Socialist International Meeting in Helsingor in January 1976, Kissinger asked the US ambassador to "(...) convey my personal appreciation to Palme for his frank presentation (...).

Assassination




Security had never been a major issue, and Olof Palme could often be seen without any bodyguard
Bodyguard
A bodyguard is a type of security operative or government agent who protects a person—usually a famous, wealthy, or politically important figure—from assault, kidnapping, assassination, stalking, loss of confidential information, terrorist attack or other threats.Most important public figures such...

 protection. The night of his murder
Murder
Murder is the unlawful killing, with malice aforethought, of another human being, and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide...

 was one such occasion. Walking home from a cinema with his wife Lisbet Palme
Lisbet Palme
Anna Lisbet Christina Palme, née Beck-Friis is a former chairman of UNICEF, educated as a child psychologist. She is the widow of late Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme...

 on the central Stockholm street Sveavägen
Sveavägen
Sveavägen is a major street in Stockholm, Sweden. The street starts at Sergels torg in the city center and goes north out of the city towards the Haga Park. It is often known as the busiest road in Sweden....

, close to midnight on February 28, 1986, the couple was attacked by an assassin. Palme was fatally shot in the back at close range. A second shot was fired at Lisbet Palme, the bullet grazing her back. She survived without serious injuries.

Police said that a taxi driver used his mobile radio to raise the alarm. Two young girls sitting in a car close to the scene of the shooting also tried to help the prime minister. He was rushed to hospital
Sabbatsbergs sjukhus
Sabbatsbergs sjukhus is a hospital in Vasastan, Stockholm. It was opened in 1879.In 1986, Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme was pronounced dead at 00:06 CET on March 1 at Sabbatsbergs Hospital, after having been shot in the street earlier that night.The emergency clinic at Sabbatsberg closed in 1994...

 but was pronounced dead on arrival at 00:06 CET
Central European Time
Central European Time , used in most parts of the European Union, is a standard time that is 1 hour ahead of Coordinated Universal Time . The time offset from UTC can be written as +01:00...

 the next day. Mrs Palme's wound was treated and she recovered. Deputy Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson
Ingvar Carlsson
Gösta Ingvar Carlsson is a Swedish politician, Prime Minister of Sweden and leader of the Swedish Social Democratic Party ....

 immediately assumed the duties as Prime Minister and as new leader of the Social Democratic Party, a post he would retain until 1991 (and then again in 1994-1996).

Two years later, Christer Pettersson
Christer Pettersson
Christer Pettersson was a Swedish criminal who was a suspect in the 1986 assassination of Olof Palme, the Prime Minister of Sweden...

 (d.2004), a small-time criminal and drug addict, was arrested, tried and convicted for Palme's murder. Pettersson's conviction was later overturned on appeal to the Svea Court of Appeal. As a result the crime remains unsolved and a number of alternative theories as to who carried out the murder have since been proposed.

Palme had strong opinions on both the world powers in the middle of the Cold War. In fact, Swedish–American relations were at a record low due to Palme's rough criticism of the Vietnam War and the placement of nuclear weapons in Europe, which he opposed. Therefore there is a popular conspiracy theory that he was assassinated by either the Soviet KGB
KGB
The KGB was the commonly used acronym for the . It was the national security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until 1991, and was the premier internal security, intelligence, and secret police organization during that time.The State Security Agency of the Republic of Belarus currently uses the...

 or the American CIA. South African assassin Athol Visser also discusses his involvement in the book Devil Incarnate describing it as part of P W Botha's apartheid government's campaign to silence domestic and foreign enemies.

In January 2011 the German magazine Focus
Focus (German magazine)
Focus is a German weekly news magazine published in Munich and distributed throughout Germany. It is the third-largest weekly news magazine in Germany. It is considered conservative and leaned towards economic liberalism.- Overview :...

cited German interrogation records in connection with another investigation from 2008 as showing that the assassination had been carried out by an operative of the Yugoslavian UDBA who now lives in Zagreb
Zagreb
Zagreb is the capital and the largest city of the Republic of Croatia. It is in the northwest of the country, along the Sava river, at the southern slopes of the Medvednica mountain. Zagreb lies at an elevation of approximately above sea level. According to the last official census, Zagreb's city...

, Croatia
Croatia
Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

.

Music


Swedish guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen dedicated his 1986 album Trilogy in the memory of Olof Palme.

See also

  • List of Olof Palme memorials, for a list of memorials and places named after Olof Palme
  • Olof Palme Street, for a list of streets named after of Olof Palme
  • Olof Palme International Center
    Olof Palme International Center
    The Olof Palme International Center is a Swedish non-governmental organization with ties to the national labour movement, working with international development, co-operation and the forming of public opinion surrounding international political and security issues...

  • Olof Palme Prize
    Olof Palme Prize
    The Olof Palme Prize is an annual prize awarded for an outstanding achievement in the spirit of Olof Palme. The Prize consists of a diploma and 75,000 US dollars.-Receivers of the Olof Palme Prize :*1987 Cyril Ramaphosa...

  • Anna Lindh
    Anna Lindh
    Ylva Anna Maria Lindh was a Swedish Social Democratic politician, Chairman of the Social Democratic Youth League 1984-1990, Member of Parliament 1982-1985 and 1998-2003...

  • Gustav III of Sweden
    Gustav III of Sweden
    Gustav III was King of Sweden from 1771 until his death. He was the eldest son of King Adolph Frederick and Queen Louise Ulrica of Sweden, she a sister of Frederick the Great of Prussia....

  • Bernt Carlsson
    Bernt Carlsson
    Bernt Wilmar Carlsson was Assistant-Secretary-General of the United Nations and United Nations Commissioner for Namibia from July 1987 until he died on Pan Am Flight 103, which was blown up over Lockerbie, Scotland on 21 December 1988.-Social democrat:A native of Stockholm, Carlsson joined the...

  • Folke Bernadotte
    Folke Bernadotte
    Folke Bernadotte, Count of Wisborg was a Swedish diplomat and nobleman noted for his negotiation of the release of about 31,000 prisoners from German concentration camps during World War II, including 450 Danish Jews from Theresienstadt released on 14 April 1945...

  • Dag Hammarskjöld
    Dag Hammarskjöld
    Dag Hjalmar Agne Carl Hammarskjöld was a Swedish diplomat, economist, and author. An early Secretary-General of the United Nations, he served from April 1953 until his death in a plane crash in September 1961. He is the only person to have been awarded a posthumous Nobel Peace Prize. Hammarskjöld...

  • Caleb J. Anderson
    Caleb J. Anderson
    Caleb J. Anderson was a Swedish Social Democrat and an important adviser to Prime Minister Olof Palme, especially in foreign politics where he was a harsh critic of the Vietnam War, and he was a supporter of the Cuban Revolution. Anderson also translated books by Franz Kafka to Swedish.-Literary...


External links