Swedish Foreign Policy, 1809–2019

A Comprehensive Modern History

by Graeme D. Eddie (Author)
©2020 Monographs XXIV, 424 Pages


Starting with 1809, Sweden’s ‘year zero’ and a period of deep national trauma, this book studies the relationship between Sweden and its environment, and foreign policy and overlapping security and defence policies. The book displays the pattern to Swedish foreign policy behavior, at times solidarity and involvement, at times disengagement and isolation, depending on the actions of larger powers in the neighbourhood. The author examines Sweden’s independence from, dependence on, orientation towards, and then acquiescence in Europe, and the release of a ‘revolution’ in Swedish foreign policy from the early 1990s. The author also studies a process of steady Swedish Europeanization and the emergence of a post-neutral stance. The book’s endpoint is the European Parliamentary election 2019, which resulted in a stemming of the populist tide in Sweden which had grown from disconnection between a Europe-reluctant electorate and Europe-enthusiastic politicians. The book also looks towards Swedish policy ambitions and prospects for the 2020s and continuation of the ‘revolution’.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Tables
  • Acknowledgements
  • Acronyms and Abbreviations
  • Swedish Political Parties1 in May 2019
  • Introduction
  • Chapter One: Island-Like Sweden in an Arena of Conflict
  • Introduction: A Ferry Journey to Europe
  • Part One: Swedish Domains Won—Our Baltic Sea
  • The Baltic—Varangians, the Hanseatic League, and the Danes
  • The Baltic—a Swedish Lake
  • Part Two: Swedish Domains Lost—Catastrophic Defeat and National Trauma
  • Poltava, 1709
  • Loss of Finland, 1809
  • ‘Year Zero’, 1809
  • ‘Policy of 1812’
  • Karl Johan’s Legacy
  • Part Three: Neutrality—State Survival—Independence
  • The Baltic—Twentieth-Century Conflict
  • Modern and Vulnerable Infrastructure—Strategic Assets
  • The Baltic—Military and Economic Importance in the Twenty-First Century
  • References and Notes
  • Chapter Two: The Evolution of Neutrality and the Evolution of the Swedish Policy Formulation
  • Introduction: A Pattern in the Swedish Policy Position
  • Part One: Neutrality as an Institution
  • Sweden, Neutrality, a Small State Role, and a New Image
  • Grotius, International Law, Codification of Responsibilities, and Armed Neutrality
  • The American Proclamation of Neutrality 1793, the Declaration of Paris 1856, the Hague Conventions 1899 and 1907, and the Declaration of London 1909
  • Rights and Duties Codified by the Declarations, Proclamations, and Conventions
  • Sweden—Opting for Neutrality
  • Neutrality, a Negative Word—the American View
  • Neutrality, a Loss of Clarity—Tensions Within the Concept
  • Part Two: Sweden and Neutrality
  • Sweden, the Post-1918 System, the Post-1945 System, International Bodies, and New Departures in Policy
  • Disillusionment, the ‘Declaration of the Seven’, and Countdown to War
  • Sweden, the Post-1945 System, Domestic Debate, the UN and Another New Departure in Policy
  • Dashed Hopes and Rising Tensions
  • Western Defence Alliance or a Scandinavian Solution? Yet Another New Departure in Policy
  • Part Three: Neutrality, a Residual but Accepted Feature
  • Neutrality, an Unacceptable Ingredient of the System
  • Neutrality, Its Feasibility Denied
  • Neutrality, a Respectable Ingredient of the System
  • New Cold War
  • Part Four: Accumulating Resources
  • Accumulation of Credibility, Respectability, and Acceptability
  • Credibility
  • Respectability
  • Acceptability
  • Positive and Negative Components of a Neutrality Policy
  • The Versions Exercised by European Neutrals
  • Part Five: Solidarity and Credibility
  • Solidarity Abroad
  • Trovärdigheten [Credibility] at Home—Total Security
  • Part Six: Non-alliance
  • Peacetime Non-alliance—Insurance and Reassurance
  • The ‘Nordic Balance’
  • Part Seven: Maintaining Materiel and Being Credible
  • Credible Defence—Strong and Meaningful Defence
  • A Swedish ‘Bomb’
  • Swedish Army, Swedish Air Force, and Swedish Navy
  • Defence Deficiencies—Budget Squeeze and Economic Restraint—Warnings
  • JAS39-Gripen
  • Time for Choices
  • Part Eight: Avoiding Commitments
  • Staying Out of Europe—the ‘Metal Speech’
  • From ‘Metal Speech’ to ‘Tetra Pak Speech’
  • References and Notes
  • Chapter Three: Dual Challenge for Sweden—a Strategic Dimension and an Economic Dimension
  • Introduction: New Challenges for Sweden
  • Part One: Strategic Dimension
  • Détente and Reform Policy in the Soviet Union
  • An Easing of the New Cold War
  • System Disintegration—NATO London Declaration, and OSCE Charter of Paris, 1990
  • Traditional Swedish Security Policy Remains Firm
  • Superpower Relationship Still Vital to Swedish and Nordic Security
  • Questioning the Traditional Baltic Scenario
  • Part Two: Economic Dimension
  • The Single Market, EFTA, and the EEA
  • Swedish Perspectives—Business and Industry—Scattered Voices
  • Part Three: Old Model, New Role
  • Sweden—a Model for the New Democracies
  • The Old Swedish Model—the ‘Third Way’ and Its Components
  • Sweden—the Accepted Ideal?
  • The New Democracies and Institutionalized Co-operation Within the EC and the OSCE
  • The New Democracies and NATO
  • The Swedish Model in Difficulty
  • References and Notes
  • Chapter Four: From ‘Metal’ and ‘Tetra Pak’, to ‘Paper’—the Turnaround on Europe
  • Introduction: Easing Away from Old Behaviour
  • Part One: Turnaround of the Social Democrats
  • Full EC Membership Not an Objective
  • First Signs of a Shift in Policy
  • Decades of Crisis Had Dented the Swedish Model
  • Policy Shift, October 1990
  • Historic Riksdag Vote, 12 December 1990
  • EC Membership Now Wholly Compatible with Swedish Neutrality
  • Countdown to Europe
  • EEA—First Step Towards Europe
  • Expansion of the Neutral Base in the EC
  • Part Two: Swedish Neutrality and the EC
  • Points of View
  • Historical Criticism
  • Was It Really the Right Time to Abandon Neutrality?
  • Alliance and Neutrality Equally Irrelevant
  • Freeing-Up and Simplifying the Policy of Neutrality
  • Membership of Europe, with the Policy of Neutrality Preserved
  • Pan-European Security and Sweden
  • Ambivalence of the Political Parties
  • The Maastricht Equation
  • References and Notes
  • Chapter Five: A New Start to Domestic Policy—Cutting the ‘Gordian Knot’ of Security Policy—a Swedish Revolution
  • Introduction: New Approaches
  • Part One: Change of Government
  • Historic Change in the Air, Again
  • General Election, 1991
  • The New Government
  • Part Two: Change of Programme
  • A New Start for Swedish Domestic Policy
  • A New Start for Swedish Foreign and Security Policy
  • The Willing European
  • Part Three: Crisis
  • Budget 1992––Agreement Found with New Democracy
  • Talks with New Democracy, Talks with the Social Democrats, ‘Black Monday’ and Its Aftermath
  • The Rosenbad Agreement 1992
  • Collapse of the Rosenbad Agreement
  • Part Four: Loosening the Straight-Jacket
  • Clearing the Way
  • The Collapse of the Traditional Nordic Security Pattern
  • Sweden and the Maastricht Goals
  • New Profile—New Swedish Security Policy Doctrine, May 1992
  • Swedish Security Goals
  • Part Five: Swedish Political Parties and the Emerging Common European Foreign and Security Policy
  • Party Attitudes—the Social Democrats and the Left Party
  • Party Attitudes—the Non-socialists
  • The Hard Core of Swedish Policy
  • Question Marks and Uncertainties
  • References and Notes
  • Chapter Six: Sweden and European Security
  • Introduction: Sweden and International Security Organizations
  • Part One: Swedish Roles, Goals, and Tasks—NATO, NACC, OSCE, and the WEU
  • International Security Organizations and Swedish Worries
  • Sweden, NATO, and the NACC
  • Sweden and a Nordic Security Structure
  • Pan-European Security Structure—the OSCE
  • Chairing the OSCE
  • Part Two: Swedish Roles, Goals, and Tasks—Baltic States, the UN, and Aid
  • Sweden and the Baltic States—Trade Agreements
  • Sweden and the UN—Failure
  • Sweden and the UN—Mistakes
  • Sweden and Its Aid Commitment
  • References and Notes
  • Chapter Seven: Russian Disengagement—a Leaner, Meaner Swedish Defence
  • Introduction: End of the Cult of Apocalypse
  • Part One: Russia and Its Need for Security
  • Disengaged and Landlocked—Effects on the North
  • Strong Swedish Defence Still a Necessity
  • Part Two: Defence in Crisis—a New Start for Swedish Defence
  • Disunity and Overwintering
  • Need for an Overall Plan
  • Addressing the New Strategic Environment—Recognition of the Need for ‘Core Defence’
  • Balanced Defence—Dispersed Defence—the End of Universal Conscription
  • Part Three: The 1992 Defence Act
  • Leaner and Meaner Defence
  • Cut in Personnel—More Equipment for the Army and Air Force
  • And the Navy?
  • The End of a ‘Total’ and ‘People’s’ Defence
  • Weathering the Economic Storm
  • Part Four: Procurement, Quality, and the Swedish Defence Industry
  • Benefits of a Domestic Defence Industry
  • Crisis in the Defence Industry––Exports––New Opportunities
  • Structural Reorganization of the Industry—Looking to the Future
  • References and Notes
  • Chapter Eight: A Suitable Candidate for EU Membership—EU Referendum 1994
  • Introduction: Prioritizing the EEA—Persuading the People Towards the EU
  • Part One: The EEA—a Step Towards Full EU Membership
  • Agreement Mark I and Mark II
  • Swedish Ratification
  • Agreement Mark III
  • Part Two: The Swedish Application for Membership of the EU—the Negotiations
  • The Commission Presents Its Avis
  • Neutrality
  • Alcohol Policy
  • Swedish Regions, Agriculture, Taxes, Industry, and Energy
  • Sweden’s Response to the Opinion—Entry Negotiations
  • Nordic Dimension
  • Agreement Signed—Corfu, June 1994
  • Part Three: Into Europe with the Social Democrats
  • Yes—From Predominant to Uncertain
  • Political Parties—Out of Touch
  • From Doubtful to No
  • Folkbildningskampanj—People’s Education Campaign
  • Huge Divergence in Attitude Between Public and Politicians—Lots of Work to Do
  • What Sort of Referendum—Consultative or Binding?
  • General Election, 1994
  • Towards the EU Referendum 1994—the Result
  • References and Notes
  • Chapter Nine: On the Domestic Front—Europeanized Sweden
  • Introduction: Disconnection, Shock, Blocs, Stalemate, and ‘Slow Lane’ Sweden
  • Part One: Social Democratic Years—Minority Governments
  • First Elections to the EP
  • Goodbye Ingvar Carlsson—Hello Göran Persson
  • General Election, 1998
  • General Election, 2002
  • The Euro Debate
  • The Baltic States and the Euro
  • Murder of Anna Lindh
  • Euro Referendum 2003
  • Part Two: Alliance Years
  • Building the Alliance
  • General Election, 2006
  • General Election, 2010—Breakthrough of the Sweden Democrats
  • European Election, 2014
  • Part Three: Back to the Social Democrats—Pacts and Minority Governments
  • General Election, 2014
  • The DÖ or ‘December Agreement’, 2014–2015—Freezing Out the Sweden Democrats
  • The Refugee Crisis—Immigration and Integration
  • The Sweden Democrats Set the Tone
  • Stockholm Terror Attack, 2017
  • General Election, 2018
  • Alliance vs. Red-Green Bloc—Freezing Out the Sweden Democrats
  • Kristersson, November 2018
  • Löfven, December 2018
  • New Minority Government, January 2019—Alliance Dissolved
  • Policy Statement, 2019—Integration, the EU, Security, and Defence
  • European Election, 2019
  • ‘Variable Geometry’, Schengen and Border Controls, and ‘Slow Lane’ Sweden
  • References and Notes
  • Chapter Ten: Sweden in Europe—One Among Many—Small Facet in a Larger Jewel
  • Introduction: A Car Journey to Europe
  • Part One: Swedish Foreign and Security Policy Behaviour
  • Swedish Foreign Ministers
  • Consensus and Common Themes
  • Immediate Impacts of Membership on the EU and on Sweden
  • Presidency, 2001—Sweden’s Single Most Important European Event Since Participation in the Congress of Vienna
  • New Profile—New Swedish Security Policy Doctrine, February 2002
  • Declaration of Solidarity, 2009—Hagadeklarationen, 2009—Stoltenberg Report, 2011
  • Eastern Partnership (EaP)—Polish-Swedish Initiative
  • Presidency, 2009—Climate Change and the Stockholm Programme
  • Presidency, 2009—Baltic Sea Strategy, EU as Global Actor, and Enlargement
  • Presidency, 2009—Ratification of the Lisbon Treaty and New Roles
  • Aid—International Development Cooperation
  • Sweden and the UN
  • Sweden and NATO
  • Sweden and the EU Nordic Battlegroup (NBG)
  • Sweden, the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum, the 2016 UK Referendum on Membership of the EU, and ‘Brexit’
  • Israel-Palestine
  • Part Two: Defence Policy and Defence Planning
  • Swedish Defence in Decline
  • The Preparation of Swedish Defence Bills
  • Defence Planning, 1995 to 2006—Government Statements
  • Defence Planning, 2006 to 2014—Government Statements
  • Russian Revanchism
  • Destabilization in the Baltic—Swedish and Russian Perceptions
  • Defence Bill, 2015
  • Saudi Arabian Arms Deal
  • Nordic and Baltic Cooperation—Russian Threats and the Baltic States
  • Swedish Responses—Swedish and NATO Exercises
  • Defence Planning, 2014–2019—Government Statements
  • JAS39–Gripen
  • Part Three: Afterword
  • Sweden Had Come Full Circle
  • References and Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index



A substantial core of research towards the content of this book was carried out at Utrikespolitiska Institutet, UI [the Swedish Institute of International Affairs], at its earlier location in Stockholm’s Old City and at the Department of Politics and International Relations, Aberdeen University, Scotland.

The earlier research was supported in part by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) of the UK and by Svenska Institutet [the Swedish Institute].

In more recent years, research has been carried out at Edinburgh University Library where Kirsty Chatwin-Lee, former Digital Preservation Curator at the Centre for Research Collections, converted data from obsolete disks into a new data format, creating usable text.

The book was completed in Dunbar, Scotland.

Due acknowledgement is also given to the Editor of The World Today, Royal Institute of International Affairs, London, for granting permission to reprint excerpts from earlier writing. These have been merged into Chapter Four and Chapter Five with the description of the Swedish economic situation and into Chapter Nine with the description of Sweden and the euro. The excerpts were drawn from The World Today, Vol. 47, No. 11, November 1991 and The World Today, Vol. 59 No. 8/9, August/September 2003.

The cover illustration of Arvfurstens palats (serving as the Swedish Foreign Ministry from 1906), possibly taken by a photographer from the Axel Lindahl studio in 1914, has been sourced from the Sjöberg Bildbyrå in Vilhelmina, Västerbotten, northern Sweden.

Special thanks are given to Brian Walsh for his encouragement from the very genesis of this project, and throughout its growth and in its fruition, and for serving as a willing sounding board.

Graeme D Eddie

Honorary Fellow

Centre for Research Collections

Edinburgh University Library

George Square



March 2020


Acronyms and

AB Aktiebolag, Limited Company, Corporation
ABB ABB Group, ASEA Brown Boveri
AfS Alternativ för Sverige, Alternative for Sweden
ASEA Allmänna Svenska Elektriska Aktiebolaget, Swedish General Electric Company
ASW Anti-Submarine Warfare
ATP Allmän tilläggspension, General supplementary pension
AU Arbetsmarknadsutskottet, Permanent Standing Committee on the Labour Market
BALTIMAX Term referring to the maximum laden vessel size capable of navigating the approaches and exits to the Baltic Sea
C Centerpartiet, the Centre Party
CAP Common Agricultural Policy
CFP Common Fisheries Policy
CFSP Common Foreign and Security Policy
CIS Commonwealth of Independent States
COCOM Co-ordinating Committee for East-West Trade
COMECON Council for Mutual Economic Assistance
CRRT Cyber Rapid Response Team
CSDP Common Security and Defence Policy
CU Civilutskottet, Permanent Standing Committee on Civil Affairs
DN Dagens Nyheter, a daily newspaper
Decemberöverenskommelsen, December Agreement, 2014–15
EaP Eastern Partnership
EAPC Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council
EC European Community, European Communities
ECB European Central Bank
ECSC European Coal and Steel Community
ECU European Currency Unit
EDI European Deterrence Initiative
EDC European Defence Community
EEA European Economic Area
EEC European Economic Community
EES Europeiska ekonomiska samarbetsområdet, see EEA
EFTA European Free Trade Area
EG Europeiska gemenskaperna, see EC
EMC European Medical Command
EMU Economic and Monetary Union
ENP European Neighbourhood Policy
EOP Enhanced Opportunities Partner
EP European Parliament
ERI European Reassurance Initiative
ERM Exchange Rate Mechanism
EU European Union
EU NAVFOR EU Naval Force
EU-nämnden Committee on European Union Affairs
EUR Euro €
EURATOM European Atomic Energy Community
EUROFOR European Rapid Operational Force
EUSBSR EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region
EU-SSA-N European Military Space Surveillance Awareness Network
EUTMCC EU Training Mission Competence Centre
FFA Flygtekniska försöksanstalten, National Aeronautical Research Institute
FFV Försvarets fabriksverk, former industrial component of the Swedish Armed Forces
FI Feministiskt initiativ, the Feminist Initiative
FiU Finansutskottet, Permanent Standing Committee on Finance
FMV Försvarets materielverk, Swedish Defence Materiel Administration
FN Förenta Nationerna, UN
FOA Försvarets Forskningsanstalt, National Defence Research Institute
FOI Totalförsvarets forskningsinstitut, Swedish Defence Research Agency
Fp Folkpartiet, People’s Party, earlier manifestation of the Liberals in Sweden, see L
FPL Folkpartiet liberalerna, FPL, or Liberal People’s Party, see L
FRA Försvarets radioanstalt, National Defence Radio Establishment
FöU Försvarsutskottet, Permanent Standing Committee on Defence
GATT General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
GDP Gross Domestic Product
GNP Gross National Product
HAW Heavy Airlift Wing
HNSA Värdlandsavtalet, NATO Host Nation Support Agreement
HSwMS Hans/Hennes Majestäts Skepp, His/Her Swedish Majesty’s Ship
IEPG Independent European Programme Group
IF Metall Swedish trade union formed from the merger of Industrifacket (Swedish Industrial Union) and Metall (Svenska Metallindustriarbetareförbundet, or Swedish Metalworkers’ Union)
IFOR Implementation Force
ISAF International Security Assistance Force
ISP Inspektionen för strategiska produkter, Swedish National Inspectorate of Strategic Products, 1996–, successor to KMI
JAS Jakt Attack Spaning, Hunter (air-to-air), attack (air-to-ground) and reconnaissance jet plane
JEIS Joint European Intelligence School
JuU Justitieutskottet, Permanent Standing Committee on Justice
KD Kristdemokraterna, the Christian Democratic Party
KMI Krigsmaterielinspektionen, Inspectorate General of Military Equipment 1935–1996, see ISP
KrU Kulturutskottet, Permanent Standing Committee on Cultural Affairs
KU Konstitutionsutskottet, Permanent Standing Committee on the Constitution
L Liberalerna, the Liberals, Sweden’s Liberal Party
LO Landsorganisation, the Confederation of Trade Unions in Sweden
LRF Lantbrukarnas Riksförbund, Federation of Swedish Farmers
M Moderaterna, or Moderata samlingspartiet, the Moderates, Sweden’s Conservatives
MED Medborgerlig Samling, the Citizens’ Coalition
MINUSCA UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic
MINUJUSTH UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti
MINURSO UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara
MINUSMA UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali
MJU Miljö- och jordbruksutskottet, Permanent Standing Committee on Environment and Agriculture
MONESCO UN Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
MP Miljöpartiet, the Green Party, Sweden’s Greens
MSB Myndigheten för samhällsskydd och beredskap, Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency
NACC North Atlantic Co-operation Council
NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization
NBG EU Nordic Battlegroup
NDR Nash domRossiya, Our Home—Russia
NK Nordiska Kompaniet, The Nordic Company
NNA Neutral and Non-aligned
NORDEK Nordic Economic Union
NPT Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty
NRF NATO Response Force
NU Näringsutskottet, Permanent Standing Committee on Industry and Trade
NyD Ny Demokrati, New Democracy
ÖB Överbefälhavaren, Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces
ODA Overseas Development Assistance
OECD Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development
OSCE Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, formerly the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe
OUP NATO Operation Unified Protector
PESCO Permanent Structured Co-operation
PfP Partnership for Peace
PII Partnership Interoperability Initiative
PJCCM Police and Judicial Co-operation in Criminal Matters
PP Piratpartiet, the Pirate Party
S Sveriges socialdemokratiska arbetareparti, the Social Democratic Party, the Social Democrats
SAAB / Saab Svenska Aeroplan AB, Swedish Aeroplane Company Limited
SAC Strategic Airlift Capability
SAF Svenska arbetsgivareföreningen, Swedish Employers’ Confederation
SAP see S
SBC Schengen Borders Code
SCB Statistiska centralbyrån, Statistics Sweden
SD Sverigedemokraterna, the Sweden Democrats
SEA Single European Act
SEB Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB, Scandinavian Private Bank
SEK Swedish Kronor
SFOR Stabilization Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina
SfU Socialförsäkringsutskottet, Permanent Standing Committee on Social Insurance
SIDA / Sida Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency
SIFO Svenska institutet för opinions-undersökningar, a polling agency
SIPRI Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
SJ Statens Järnvägar, Swedish State Railways, 1888–2001
SKF AB SKF, Svenska Kullagerfabriken, Swedish Ball-Bearing Factory
SKL Sveriges Kommuner och Landsting, Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions
SKOP Skandinavisk Opinion
SKP Sveriges Kommunistiska Parti, Communist Party of Sweden
SkU Skatteutskottet, Permanent Standing Committee on Taxation
SLOC Sea Line of Communication
SOF Special Operations Forces
SOM SOM Institutet––Samhälle, Opinion, Medier, Research institute at Gothenburg University (Göteborgs universitet)
SoU Socialutskottet, Permanent Standing Committee on Health and Welfare
SPF Styrelsen för psykologiskt försvar, National Board for Psychological Research
SSU Sveriges Socialdemokratiska Ungdomsförbund, Swedish Social Democratic Youth League
SvD Svenska Dagbladet, a daily newspaper
SVT Sveriges Television AB, Swedish Television
SÄPO Säkerhetspolisen, Swedish Security Service
TFCMA Treaty of Friendship, Co-operation, and Mutual Assistance
TU Trafikutskottet, Permanent Standing Committee on Transport and Communications
UAE United Arab Emirates
UbU Utbildningsutskottet, Permanent Standing Committee on Education
UI Utrikespolitiska Institutet, the Swedish Institute of International Affairs
UK United Kingdom
UN United Nations
UNEF I UN Emergency Force I
UNEF II UN Emergency Force II
UNGOMAP UN Good Offices Mission in Afghanistan and Pakistan
UNIFICYP UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus
UNIFIL UN Interim Force in Lebanon
UNIIMOG UN Iran-Iraq Military Observer Group
UNISOM UN Operation in Somalia
UNMISS UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan
UNMOGIP UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan
UNPROFOR UN Protection Force
UNTSO UN Truce Supervision Organization
UU Utrikesutskottet, Permanent Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs
V Vänsterpartiet, the Left Party
WEU Western European Union
WHO World Health Organization
WTO World Trade Organization


Swedish Political Parties1 in May 2019

After the 2018 General Election, there were eight political parties represented in the Swedish parliament (Riksdag). A party must receive at least 4 per cent of the votes in a General Election to be assigned any seats in parliament. Listed here are the eight parties currently represented, followed by four which are the largest parties so far not represented, and one which burst onto the political scene in the 1990s and crashed out again just as suddenly:

Social Democrats (Sveriges socialdemokratiska arbetareparti, S)

Founded in 1889, making it the oldest political party in Sweden, today, it is Sweden’s largest political party. Social Democrat policies are based on freedom, equality and solidarity, and the party gives priority to job creation and providing a better education for all. The Social Democrats held a very prominent position in Swedish politics between the 1930s and the 1980s.

Moderates (Moderaterna / Moderata samlingspartiet, M)

Founded in 1904, starting out as a conservative and nationalist party, today the party defines itself as liberal-conservative—a conservative party with liberal ideas. Freedom to choose is at the core of its policies. The Moderates also generally support low taxation and economic liberalism. The party has restyled itself in recent years, known as the ‘New Moderates’ (Nya Moderaterna) for a time and also ‘The new Swedish model’ (Den nya svenska modellen).

Sweden Democrats (Sverigedemokraterna, SD)

Founded in 1988, SD is a social conservative party based on nationalism, and first and foremost associated with the issue of migration. The party believes that the country’s immigration policy has been over generous, with many of the migrants placing huge strains on society and the economy.

Centre Party (Centerpartiet, C)

It is a liberal and agriculture political party founded in 1913 as the Farmers’ League. With a focus on the economy, the environment and integration, the party believes that society should be built on responsibility towards each other and towards the environment. When Karin Söder (1928–2015) was chosen as party leader in 1985, she became the first woman to lead a major Swedish political party.

Left Party (Vänsterpartiet, V), led by Jonas Sjöstedt

It defines itself as a socialist and feminist political party on an ecological basis. It has been called ‘the Left Party’ since 1990, but the first foundations of the party were laid in 1917 in a split from the Social Democrats. It became the Communist Party of Sweden in 1921. V gives principal focus to jobs, welfare and gender equality. The party was against Sweden joining the EU in 1995 and it still advocates leaving.

Christian Democratic Party (Kristdemokraterna, KD)

Founded in 1964 and first voted into parliament in 1991, KD believes that stable families are the basis of society, and so family-oriented policies are prominent. It focusses on improving elderly care and giving families the freedom to choose their own childcare. To promote growth and to bring down unemployment, they advocate simpler regulations for companies and low taxation.

Liberals (Liberalerna, L)

Founded in 1934 as the People’s Party (Folkpartiet), changing its name to the Liberal People’s Party (Folkpartiet liberalerna, Fp) in 1990, and then simply ‘the Liberals’ in 2015, it is a liberal and social–liberal political party. The Liberals have claimed to hold a middle position in the Swedish political landscape, but over the last few years, its critics consider it to have become more conservative. The improvement of the school system is a key issue for the party, and another is joining North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and investment in nuclear energy.

Green Party (Miljöpartiet, MP)

It was founded in 1981 and had its breakthrough in 1988, winning seats in parliament for the first time. The principal MP focus is on environmental issues, particularly measures to stop climate change and to protect the environment. The party is against nuclear power, but it promotes European integration.


XXIV, 424
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2020 (October)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2020. XXIV, 424 pp., 1 b/w ill., 6 tables.

Biographical notes

Graeme D. Eddie (Author)

Graeme D. Eddie has worked and studied in Sweden, and his political science research in Stockholm contributed to a PhD (Aberdeen University). He has published in The World Today, RIIA, London. He was a librarian/archivist at the Centre for Research Collections, Edinburgh University Library, of which he is currently an Honorary Fellow.


Title: Swedish Foreign Policy, 1809–2019