Olof Palme

Olof Palme
Olof Palme 1974 (cropped).jpg
Olof Palme in September 1974
26th Prime Minister of Sweden
In office
14 October 1969 – 8 October 1976
MonarchGustaf VI Adolf
Carl XVI Gustaf
Preceded byTage Erlander
Succeeded byThorbjörn Fälldin
In office
8 October 1982 – 28 February 1986
MonarchCarl XVI Gustaf
DeputyIngvar Carlsson
Preceded byThorbjörn Fälldin
Succeeded byIngvar Carlsson
Leader of the
Swedish Social Democratic Party
In office
14 October 1969 – 28 February 1986
Preceded byTage Erlander
Succeeded byIngvar Carlsson
President of the Nordic Council
In office
Preceded byTrygve Bratteli
Succeeded byMatthías Árni Mathiesen
Personal details
Sven Olof Joachim Palme

(1927-01-30)30 January 1927
Stockholm, Sweden
Died28 February 1986(1986-02-28) (aged 59)
Sveavägen, Stockholm, Sweden
Cause of deathAssassination
Political partySocial Democratic Party
Spouse(s)Jelena Rennerova (1948–1952)
Lisbet Palme (1956–1986)
Alma materUniversity of Stockholm,
Kenyon College
SignatureOlof Palme International Center
Military service
Service/branchSwedish Army
Years of service1945–1947
Reservist : 1947–1977
RankSWE-Kapten.svg Kapten
UnitSvea Artillery Regiment

Sven Olof Joachim Palme (ə/; Swedish: [²uːlɔf ²palːmɛ] (About this soundlisten); 30 January 1927 – 28 February 1986) was a Swedish Social Democratic politician and statesman. A longtime protégé of Prime Minister Tage Erlander, Palme led the Swedish Social Democratic Party from 1969 until his assassination in 1986, and was a two-term Prime Minister of Sweden, heading a Privy Council Government from 1969 to 1976 and a cabinet government from 1982 until his death. Electoral defeats in 1976 and 1979 marked the end of Social Democratic hegemony in Swedish politics, which had seen 40 years of unbroken rule by the party. While leader of the opposition, he parted[clarification needed] domestic and international interests and served as special mediator of the United Nations in the Iran–Iraq War, and was President of the Nordic Council in 1979. He returned as Prime Minister after electoral victories in 1982 and 1985.

Palme was a pivotal and polarizing figure domestically as well as in international politics from the 1960s. He was steadfast in his non-alignment policy towards the superpowers, accompanied by support for numerous third world liberation movements following decolonization including, most controversially, economic and vocal support for a number of Third World governments. He was the first Western head of government to visit Cuba after its revolution, giving a speech in Santiago praising contemporary Cuban and Cambodian revolutionaries.

Frequently a critic of United States and Soviet foreign policy, he resorted to fierce and often polarizing criticism in pinpointing his resistance towards imperialist ambitions and authoritarian regimes, including those of Francisco Franco of Spain, Leonid Brezhnev of the Soviet Union, António de Oliveira Salazar of Portugal and Gustáv Husák of Czechoslovakia, as well as B. J. Vorster and P. W. Botha of South Africa. His 1972 condemnation of the Hanoi bombings, notably comparing the tactic to the Treblinka extermination camp, resulted in a temporary freeze in Sweden–United States relations.

Palme's murder on a Stockholm street on 28 February 1986 was the first assassination of a national leader in Sweden since Gustav III, and had a great impact across Scandinavia.[1] Local convict and addict Christer Pettersson was originally convicted of the murder in the first instance court tingsrätten, but was acquitted on appeal to the Svea hovrätt.

Early life

Palme was born into an upper class, conservative Lutheran family in the Östermalm district of Stockholm, Sweden. The Palme family is of Dutch ancestry and is related to several other prominent Swedish families such as the von Sydows and the Wallenbergs. His father Gunnar Palme was a businessman, son of Sven Theodore Palme and Baroness Hanna Maria von Born-Sarvilahti. Through her, Olof Palme claimed ancestry from King Frederik I of Denmark. His mother, Elisabeth von Knieriem, was descended from Baltic German tradesmen; she had arrived in Sweden from Russia as a refugee in 1915. Elisabeth's great-great-great grandfather Johann Melchior von Knieriem (1758–1817) had been ennobled by the Emperor Alexander I of Russia in 1814. Her great-grandfather Alexander von Knieriem (1837–1904) was an attorney general of the Senate of Russian Empire, senator and member of the State Council of Imperial Russia.[2] The von Knieriem do not count as members of the Baltische Ridderschaft. Palme's father died when he was six years old. Despite his background, his political orientation came to be influenced by Social Democratic attitudes. His travels in the Third World, as well as the United States, where he saw deep economic inequality and racial segregation, 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 – German and English. 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 age of 17. He was called up into the Army in January 1945 and did his compulsory military service at A 1 between 1945 and 1947, became in 1956 a reserve officer with the rank of Captain in the Artillery. After he was discharged from military service in March 1947, he enrolled at the University of Stockholm.[3]

On a scholarship, he studied at Kenyon College, a small liberal arts school in central Ohio from 1947 to 1948, graduating with a BA[4] Inspired by radical debate in the student community, he wrote a critical essay on Friedrich Hayek's The Road to Serfdom. Palme wrote his senior honour thesis on the United Auto Workers union, led at the time by Walter Reuther. 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.[5]

After hitchhiking through the USA and Mexico, he returned to Sweden to study law at Stockholm University. In 1949 he became a member of the Swedish Social Democratic Party. During his time at university, Palme became involved in student politics, working with the Swedish National Union of Students. 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 travelled across Europe.[3]

Palme attributed his becoming a socialist to three major influences:

  • In 1947, he attended a debate on taxes between the Social Democrat Ernst Wigforss, the conservative Jarl Hjalmarson 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 against black people; and,
  • A trip to Asia, specifically India, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Burma, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, and Japan in 1953 had opened his eyes to the consequences of colonialism and imperialism.

Palme was an atheist.[6]

Other Languages
العربية: أولوف بالمه
aragonés: Olof Palme
বাংলা: ওলফ পালমে
беларуская: Улаф Пальмэ
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Уляф Пальмэ
български: Улоф Палме
bosanski: Olof Palme
brezhoneg: Olof Palme
català: Olof Palme
čeština: Olof Palme
dansk: Olof Palme
Deutsch: Olof Palme
eesti: Olof Palme
Ελληνικά: Ούλωφ Πάλμε
español: Olof Palme
Esperanto: Olof Palme
euskara: Olof Palme
français: Olof Palme
Frysk: Olof Palme
Gàidhlig: Olof Palme
galego: Olof Palme
한국어: 올로프 팔메
hrvatski: Olof Palme
Bahasa Indonesia: Olof Palme
íslenska: Olof Palme
italiano: Olof Palme
Basa Jawa: Olof Palme
ქართული: ულოფ პალმე
kurdî: Olof Palme
Latina: Olavus Palme
latviešu: Ūlofs Palme
Lëtzebuergesch: Olof Palme
lietuvių: Olof Palme
magyar: Olof Palme
македонски: Улоф Палме
Nederlands: Olof Palme
norsk: Olof Palme
norsk nynorsk: Olof Palme
occitan: Olof Palme
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Olof Palme
polski: Olof Palme
português: Olof Palme
română: Olof Palme
Runa Simi: Olof Palme
русский: Пальме, Улоф
Scots: Olof Palme
shqip: Olof Palme
Simple English: Olof Palme
slovenčina: Olof Palme
slovenščina: Olof Palme
српски / srpski: Улоф Палме
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Olof Palme
suomi: Olof Palme
svenska: Olof Palme
Türkçe: Olof Palme
українська: Улоф Пальме
Tiếng Việt: Olof Palme
Winaray: Olof Palme
Yorùbá: Olof Palme