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Swedish prime minister resigns over WWI policy


Prime Minister Hjalmar Hammarskjöld of Sweden, father of the famous future United Nations Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld, resigns on this day in 1917 after his policy of strict neutrality in World War I—including continued trading with Germany, in violation of the Allied blockade—leads to widespread hunger and political instability in Sweden.

The elder Hammarskjöld, a professor of law who became active in politics and served as a delegate to the Hague convention on international law in 1907, was asked by King Gustav V of Sweden to become prime minister in 1914 after a popularly elected government was opposed and defeated by conservative forces. From the beginning of his administration, Hammarskjöld pursued a policy of strict neutrality in the war, continuing trade with Germany and thus subjecting his country and people to the hardships wrought by the Allied naval blockade in the North Sea, in place from November 1914.

Though the Allies—and many within Sweden—saw Hammarskjöld's neutrality as a pro-German policy, he apparently considered it a necessary product of his firm principles regarding international law. Sweden’s sacrifice during the war, he believed, would prove that it was not an opportunistic nation but a just one; this would put it in a stronger position after the war ended. In practice, however, his policies, and the hunger they produced, hurt Hammarskjöld, as did his identification with Sweden’s monarchy and other reactionary forces, just as a movement toward true parliamentary democracy was growing in Sweden.

In 1917, Hammarskjöld rejected a proposal for a common trade agreement with Great Britain that had been brokered by Marcus Wallenberg, brother of Sweden’s foreign minister, Knut Wallenberg, and would have brought much-needed economic relief to Sweden. With the obvious conflict between Hammarskjöld and Wallenberg, the prime minister lost the support of even his most right-wing allies in parliament, and was forced to submit his resignation at the end of March 1917. He was succeeded by Carl Swartz, a conservative member of parliament who served only seven months. In October 1917, Sweden’s Social Democratic party won their first general election, and Nils Eden became prime minister.


Swedish prime minister resigns over WWI policy - HISTORY

The Swedish Parliament has passed a vote of no confidence in Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven.

The motion was passed by 181 votes to 168, with 51 abstentions.

This is the first time in Sweden’s history that the country’s prime minister has lost a vote of confidence.

The Social Democratic leader has a week to resign and call an early election.

The decision came after a disagreement over rent controls with the coalition government made up of the Social Democratic party and the minority party.

Should the prime minister decide to resign, the speaker of parliament will start negotiations between the parties to form a new government.

A vote of no confidence was called last week following a controversial proposal on new apartment rents. Although Lofven’s party did not support the move, it agreed to it to curry favour with opposition parties.

The vote was proposed by Swedish nationalist democrats and found the support of two centre-right opposition parties.

The new government is expected to remain at the helm until the general election which is expected to take place in September next year.


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The nationalist Sweden Democrats called the vote after the formerly communist Left Party withdrew support for the Social Democrats (led by Löfven) over the rent control reforms, an important issue for many voters.

The no-confidence motion, which required 175 votes in the 349-seat parliament to pass, was supported by 181 lawmakers.

Löfven, 63, is the first Swedish prime minister to be ousted by a no-confidence motion put forward by the opposition in the European Union member state of about 10 million people.

It is what is best for the country that is important. We will work as fast as we can

It is not clear to whom the speaker might turn to form a new government if Löfven quits because of the make-up of parliament, but the opinion polls suggest a snap election might not bring clarity either.

Löfven secured a second term in 2018, only after months of negotiations following an election in which the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats made big gains, redrawing the political map.


Far right surge

2010 September - Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt's centre-right coalition falls narrowly short of a majority in parliamentary elections. The anti-immigration Swedish Democrats become the first far right party to win seats in Sweden's parliament.

2010 October - PM Reinfeldt forms new broad minority government.

2010 December - Founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, is taken into custody in Britain after Sweden asks for his extradition.

Sweden suffers its first suicide bombing, carried out by 28-year-old Iraqi-born Islamist extremist Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly. Two passers-by were injured.

2011 March - A 30-year-old man appears at Glasgow Sheriff Court, Scotland, over the Stockholm suicide bombing. Ezedden Khalid Ahmed Al Khaledi, described as a Kuwaiti national, faces three charges under the UK Terrorism Act and five others under immigration laws and banking regulations.

2011 July - Surgeons in Sweden carry out the world's first synthetic organ transplant after scientists in London create an artificial windpipe coated in stem cells from the patient. Professor Paolo Macchiarini from Italy led the team of surgeons at the Karolinska University Hospital.

2011 December - Swedish car maker Saab files for bankruptcy after failing to attract a buyer for the ailing business.

2012 January - Sweden's opposition Social Democrat Party leader Haakan Juholt resigns following increasing criticism and a slump in support since he took office in March last year.

2012 February - Crown Princess Victoria gives birth to Princess Estelle, who becomes second in line to the throne.

2012 March - Defence Minister Sten Tolgfors resigns after criticism of secrecy over plans to build a weapons plant in Saudi Arabia.

2013 May - Riots erupt in a predominantly immigrant suburb of Stockholm following the fatal police shooting of an elderly man.

2013 June - Thousands line the streets of Stockholm for the wedding of the youngest daughter of the Swedish king, Princess Madeleine.

A Swedish court jails a man of Rwandan origin for participating in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. He took on Swedish citizenship.

2014 April - Sweden announces plans to boost annual defence spend by 5.5bn kronor ($850m, £500m) by 2020, citing the crisis in Ukraine and "unsettling" developments in Russia.

2014 July - The central bank cuts its reference lending rate by half a percentage point to 0.25% to counteract inflation.

2014 October - Stefan Lofven becomes premier following parliamentary elections.

2014 December - Prime Minister Stefan Lofven says he will call snap elections after his minority government loses a budget vote less than three months after coming to power.

The centre-left minority government strikes a deal with the mainstream opposition in order to avert holding a snap election and to counter the rising influence of the far right.

2017 April - Four people die in a truck attack on a busy shopping street in central Stockholm.

2018 May - The Swedish Academy cancels the Nobel Prize for Literature after several high-profile resignations over accusations that it ignored alleged sexual abuse by the husband of one of its members.

2020 March - Sweden is rare among European countries in avoiding a full lockdown in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.


Sweden faces political uncertainty as prime minister loses no-confidence vote

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven now has the choice to resign or trigger a snap election.

Swedish centre-left Prime Minister Stefan Lofven has been ousted in a no-confidence vote in parliament, plunging the country into deep political uncertainty as it tackles the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Lofven, who was defeated after nearly seven years in power over a plan to ease rent controls for new-build apartments, now has a week to resign and hand the speaker the job of finding a new government, or call a snap election.

With parliament deadlocked and opinion polls showing centre-right and centre-left blocs evenly balanced, the political crisis may not be resolved quickly, though economists say this would be unlikely to have a big impact on the economy.

"The government now has a week to decide and we will hold talks with our cooperation parties," Mr Lovfen told a news conference after the vote.

"It is what is best for the country that is important. We will work as fast as we can."

Sweden has recorded its deadliest November since the Spanish Flu outbreak in 1918

The nationalist Sweden Democrats called the vote after the formerly communist Left Party withdrew support for the plan led by Mr Lofven's Social Democrats over the rent control reforms, an important issue for many voters.

The no-confidence motion, which required 175 votes in the 349-seat parliament to pass, was supported by 181 lawmakers.

Mr Lofven, 63, is the first Swedish prime minister to be ousted by a no-confidence motion put forward by the opposition in the European Union member state of about 10 million people.

It is not clear to whom the speaker might turn to form a new government if Mr Lofven quits because of the make-up of parliament, but the opinion polls suggest a snap election might not bring clarity either.

Mr Lofven secured a second term in 2018 only after months of negotiations following an election in which the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats made big gains, redrawing the political map.

Since then he has led a fragile minority government of Social Democrats and Greens, supported by former political rivals the Centre Party and the Liberals but needing the tacit approval of the left.

Uncertainty

The Left Party blamed Mr Lofven for the crisis.

"It is not the Left Party that has given up on the Social Democrat government, it is the Social Democrat government that has given up on the Left Party and the Swedish people," Left Party leader Nooshi Dadgostar said.

Ms Dadgostar said that even though her party had voted against Mr Lofven, it would never help "a right-wing nationalist government" take power.

Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Akesson, whose party has moved from the far-right fringe into the harmful and historically weak and "should never have come into power".

Nicholas Aylott, a political scientist at Sodertorn University, described the defeat of a prime minister in a no-confidence vote as a "very significant" event in Swedish political history.

"I think an extra election is a real possibility," he said.

Popular appetite for a snap poll may be limited while Sweden is fighting the effects of COVID-19, especially as an election is due next year anyway.

After resisting lockdowns, Sweden is now imposing 'unprecedented' coronavirus restrictions as cases soar

A new government - or a caretaker administration - would sit only until after that election.

Economists have said they do not expect the political uncertainty to weigh on the economy because of the strict fiscal rules under which Sweden operates.

Sweden has been an outlier in the fight against COVID-19, opting against full lockdowns and relying instead on mostly voluntary measures. It has been hit by a severe third wave of the virus but fresh cases and the number of people being admitted to intensive care are declining quickly.


Timeline: Sweden

1905 - Union between Sweden and Norway peacefully dissolved, 90 years after Sweden invaded Norway.

1914 - Outbreak of World War I. Sweden remains neutral.

1920 - Sweden joins League of Nations. During the 1920s Sweden develops from an agricultural into an industrial society. Social democratic governments enact various social reforms.

1939 - At the outbreak of World War II, Sweden - along with its Scandinavian neighbours - declares its neutrality. Sweden rejects a request from Germany's enemies to use its territory as a transit route for troops.

1940 - Following the German occupation of Denmark and Norway, Sweden is forced by German military superiority to allow German troops to transit through Sweden to Norway. But the Swedish prime minister rebuffs Germany's offer of membership in the "New Order". Sweden becomes a refuge for Danes and Norwegians trying to flee from the Germans.

1943 - Transit agreement with Germany is cancelled.

1946 - Sweden joins the United Nations. Social Democrat Tage Erlander becomes prime minister and stays in the post until 1969. Successive governments develop a comprehensive welfare state, introducing a national health service in 1955 and a state pension scheme in 1959.

1952 - Sweden becomes founder member of the Nordic Council, established to further the mutual interests of the Scandinavian countries.

1953 - Swedish diplomat Dag Hammarskjoeld becomes secretary-general of the United Nations he stays in the post until 1961. Sweden contributes troops towards UN peace-keeping missions.

1959 - Sweden becomes founder member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).

1971 - The two-chamber parliament is replaced by one chamber elected by proportional representation.

1975 - Further constitutional reforms enacted. The last remaining powers of the monarch are removed, so that his duties become purely ceremonial.

A decade of uncertainty

Early 1980s - Relations with the Soviet Union deteriorate when Soviet submarines are suspected of infiltrating Swedish territorial waters.

1986 - Social democrat prime minister Olof Palme is assassinated by an unknown gunman on a Stockholm street. Sweden is plunged into shock. His murderer remains at large.

1990 - The parliament supports the government's decision to apply for membership of the European Union.

1994 - Swedes narrowly support EU membership in a referendum. Sweden joins the EU on 1st January 1995.

1996 - Social Democrat Goeran Persson becomes prime minister after his party colleague Ingvar Carlsson steps down.

1998 - Following a general election, Persson forms a minority government, supported by the former communists.

2000 July - Official opening of new bridge and tunnel linking Malmo in southern Sweden and Danish capital Copenhagen. The new road and rail link makes it possible to travel between the two countries in just 15 minutes.

2002 September - Following elections, Goerran Persson continues into third consecutive term as prime minister in minority government relying on support from the Left Party and the Greens.

2003 September - Foreign Minister Anna Lindh dies from stab wounds after being attacked by an assailant in a Stockholm department store.

Referendum vote goes against joining the single European currency.

2004 March - Man who confessed to killing Anna Lindh on impulse is convicted of her murder. In December, Supreme Court confirms his life imprisonment, overturning a ruling that he should be sent to a psychiatric hospital.

2006 March - Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds resigns amid row over her ministry's involvement in closure of website which had been due to publish controversial cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammad.

2006 September - A centre-right alliance headed by Moderate Party leader Fredrik Reinfeldt wins parliamentary elections, ending 12 years of Social Democrat rule.

2007 July - Renowned Swedish cinema director Ingmar Bergman dies aged 89.

2008 November - Sweden ratifies the EU's Lisbon Treaty, the 24th member to do so.

2009 February - The government reverses a 30-year-old policy of phasing out nuclear power, saying new reactors are needed to fight climate change and secure energy supplies.

2009 July - Sweden takes over rotating presidency of the European Union, with the promise of tackling climate change and combat rising unemployment in Europe.

2010 September - Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt's centre-right coalition falls narrowly short of a majority in parliamentary elections. The anti-immigration Swedish Democrats become the first far right party to win seats in Sweden's parliament.

2010 October - PM Reinfeldt forms new broad minority government.

2010 December - Founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, is taken into custody in Britain after Sweden asks for his extradition.

Sweden suffers its first suicide bombing, carried out by 28-year-old Iraqi-born Islamist extremist Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly. Two passers-by were injured.

2011 March - A 30-year-old man appears at Glasgow Sheriff Court, Scotland, over the Stockholm suicide bombing. Ezedden Khalid Ahmed Al Khaledi, described as a Kuwaiti national, faces three charges under the UK Terrorism Act and five others under immigration laws and banking regulations.

2011 July - Surgeons in Sweden carry out the world's first synthetic organ transplant after scientists in London create an artificial windpipe coated in stem cells from the patient. Professor Paolo Macchiarini from Italy led the team of surgeons at the Karolinska University Hospital.

2011 December - Swedish car maker Saab files for bankruptcy after failing to attract a buyer for the ailing business.

2012 January - Sweden's opposition Social Democrat Party leader Haakan Juholt resigns following increasing criticism and a slump in support since he took office in March last year.

2012 February - Crown Princess Victoria gives birth to Princess Estelle, who becomes second in line to the throne.

2012 March - Defence Minister Sten Tolgfors resigns after criticism of secrecy over plans to build a weapons plant in Saudi Arabia.


PM Lofven of Sweden in historical ousting from power after the no-confidence vote

The political ousting in Sweden of Prime Minister Stefan Lofven is historical. For, he is the first leader in Swedish history to lose power based on the parliament passing a vote of no confidence. Therefore, he must resign within one week – or possibly call a snap election.

Reuters reports, “The nationalist Sweden Democrats had seized the chance to call the vote after the formerly communist Left Party withdrew support for the center-left government over a plan to ease rent controls for new-build apartments.”

Lofven, the Social Democrat leader, and the Left Party that withdrew its support will blame each other for the no-confidence vote and ensuing convulsion. However, in the eyes of the Left Party, the leadership of Lofven is to blame.

Nooshi Dadgostar, the Chairman of the Left Party, is adamant that the Prime Minister is to blame. She said, “It is not the Left Party that has given up on the Social Democrat government, it is the Social Democrat government that has given up on the Left Party and the Swedish people.”

The ruling Social Democrat-led government and its alliance with the Green Party couldn’t hold once the Left Party withdrew its political support for the coalition government. Hence, opposition parties opposed to Lofven immediately took their chance. Therefore, the nationalist Sweden Democrats and others voted against the leader of Sweden when the no-confidence vote emerged.

The BBC reports, “If the prime minister decides to step down, the parliament’s speaker will have to begin cross-party negotiations to form a new government.”

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Sweden faces political uncertainty as PM Lofven ousted by parliament

Swedish center-left Prime Minister Stefan Lofven was ousted in a no-confidence vote in parliament on Monday, plunging the country into deep political uncertainty as it tackles the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lofven, who was defeated after nearly seven years in power over a plan to ease rent controls for new-build apartments, now has a week to resign and hand the speaker the job of finding a new government or call a snap election. With parliament deadlocked and opinion polls showing center-right and center-left blocs evenly balanced, the political crisis may not be resolved quickly, though economists say this would be unlikely to have a big impact on the economy.

"The government now has a week to decide and we will hold talks with our cooperation parties," Lovfen told a news conference after the vote. "It is what is best for the important country. We will work as fast as we can."

The nationalist Sweden Democrats called the vote after the formerly communist Left Party withdrew support for the led by Lofven's Social Democrats over the rent control reforms, an important issue for many voters. The no-confidence motion, which required 175 votes in the 349-seat parliament to pass, was supported by 181 lawmakers.

Lofven, 63, is the first Swedish prime minister to be ousted by a no-confidence motion put forward by the opposition in the European Union member state of about 10 million people. It is not clear to whom the speaker might turn to form a new government if Lofven quits because of the make-up of parliament, but the opinion polls suggest a snap election might not bring clarity either.

Lofven secured a second term in 2018 only after months of negotiations following an election in which the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats made big gains, redrawing the political map. Since then he has led a fragile minority government of Social Democrats and Greens, supported by former political rivals the Centre Party and the Liberals but needing the tacit approval of the Left.

UNCERTAINTY The Left Party blamed Lofven for the crisis.

"It is not the Left Party that has given up on the Social Democrat government, it is the Social Democrat government that has given up on the Left Party and the Swedish people," Left Party leader Nooshi Dadgostar said. Dadgostar said that even though her party had voted against Lofven, it would never help "a right-wing nationalist government" take power.

Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Akesson, whose party has moved from the far-right fringe into the harmful and historically weak and "should never have come into power." Nicholas Aylott, a political scientist at Sodertorn University, described the defeat of a prime minister in a no-confidence vote as a "very significant" event in Swedish political history.

"I think an extra election is a real possibility," he said. Popular appetite for a snap poll may be limited while Sweden is fighting the effects of COVID-19, especially as an election is due next year anyway.

A new government - or a caretaker administration - would sit only until after that election. Economists have said they do not expect the political uncertainty to weigh on the economy because of the strict fiscal rules under which Sweden operates.

Sweden has been an outlier in the fight against COVID-19, opting against full lockdowns and relying instead on mostly voluntary measures. It has been hit by a severe third wave of the virus but fresh cases and the number of people being admitted to intensive care are declining quickly.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


Notes

  1. ↑ Gihl, Torsten: Den svenska utrikespolitikens historia 1914-1919 [A History of Swedish Foreign Policy, 1914-1919], Stockholm 1951, remains the standard work on Swedish foreign policy during the war.
  2. ↑ Carlgren, Wilhelm M.: Neutralität oder Allianz. Deutschlands Beziehungen zu Schweden in den Anfangsjahren des Ersten Weltkrieges, Stockholm 1962, pp. 18-21, 40-53.
  3. ↑ The central work on the Öresund question is Grohmann, Andreas: Die deutsch-schwedische Auseinandersetzung um die Fahrstrassen des Öresunds im Ersten Weltkrieg, Boppard 1974.
  4. ↑ On Russia in Swedish foreign policy and strategic thinking before 1914 see Åselius, Gunnar: The ‘Russian Menace to Sweden’. The Belief System of a Small Security Élite in the Age of Imperialism, Stockholm 1994.
  5. ↑ Åselius, Gunnar: Sveriges säkerhetspolitiska hotbild och 1917 [The Swedish Threat Perception and 1917], in: Knutson, Ulrika et al.: Revolution! Svenska erfarenheter från Ryssland [Revolution! The Swedish Experience from Russia], Stockholm 2019, pp. 105-144 on Swedish losses in revolutionary Russia, see Kragh, Martin: Sveriges näringsliv i den ryska revolutionen [Swedish Enterprise in the Russian Revolution], in: Knutson, Revolution! 2019, pp. 25-43.
  6. ↑ Åland, see Rystad, Göran: Die deutsche Monroedoktrin der Ostsee. Die Alandsfrage und die Entstehung des deutsch-schwedische Geheimabkommens vom Mai 1918, in: Rystad, Göran / Tägil, Sven (eds.): Probleme deutscher Zeitgeschichte, Stockholm 1971, pp. 1-75.
  7. ↑ There is an excellent overview of Scandinavian relations with the Great Powers during the First World War in Salmon, Patrick: Scandinavia and the Great Powers, 1890-1940, Cambridge 1997, pp. 118-168 see also Strøm, Knut Ola Naastad: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. Trade Negotiations between the Western Allies and the Scandinavian Neutrals 1914-1919, Gothenburg 2019.
  8. ↑ Ingmar, Gunilla: Monopol på nyheter. Ekonomiska och politiska aspekter på svenska och internationella nyhetsbyråers verksamhet 1870–1919 [Monopoly on News. Economic and Political Aspects of the Activity of International News Agencies 1870–1919], Stockholm 1973 Torbacke, Jarl: The German Infiltration of the Swedish Press during the Early Stages of the First World War, in: Engström, Johan / Ericson, Lars (eds.): Mellan björnen och örnen. Sverige och Östersjöområdet 1914-1918 [Between the Bear and the Eagle. Sweden and the Baltic Sea Region 1914-1918], Visby 1994 the First World War in Swedish public opinion has been treated most recently by Sturfelt, Lina: Eldens återsken. Första världskriget i svensk föreställningsvärld [Reflections of Fire. Images of the First World War in Sweden], Lund 2008.
  9. ↑ Hedin, Sven: Från fronten i väster [From the Front in the West], Stockholm 1914 and Kriget mot Ryssland [The War against Russia], Stockholm 1915. These works also appeared in German editions.
  10. ↑ Kjellén, Rudolf: Die Ideen von 1914. Eine Weltgeschichtliche Perspektive, Leipzig 1915. https://archive.org/details/dieideenvoneine00kochgoog/page/n6 (Retrieved 6 June 2019).
  11. ↑ The so-called “activist book” was entitled Sveriges utrikespolitik i världskrigets belysning [Sweden’s Foreign Policy in the Light of the World War], Stockholm 1915 on the activists see Kihlberg, Mats: Aktivismens huvudorgan. Svensk Lösen [The main organ of activism. Svensk Lösen], in: Kihlberg, Mats / Söderlind, Donald (eds.): Två studier i svensk konservatism, 1916-1922 [Two Studies in Swedish Conservatism, 1916-1922], Uppsala 1961 Schuberth, Inger: Schweden und das Deutsche Reich im Ersten Weltkrieg. Die Aktivistenbewegung 1914-1918, Bonn 1981.
  12. ↑ An overview of the neutrality policies of the Scandinavian countries can be found in Hobson, Rolf / Kristiansen, Tom / Sørensen, Nils Arne / Åselius, Gunnar: Introduction. Scandinavia in the First World War, in Ahlund, Claes (ed.): Scandinavia in the First World War. Studies in the War Experience of the Northern Neutrals, Lund 2012, pp. 105-121.
  13. ↑ Kilander, Svenbjörn: Censur och propaganda. Svensk informationspolitik under 1900-talets första decennier [Censorship and Propaganda. Swedish Information Policy during the First Decades of the Twentieth Century], Uppsala 1981, pp. 95-100, 116-120.
  14. ↑ The central work on this phase of the war is Koblik, Steven: Sweden. The Neutral Victor. Sweden and the Western Powers 1917-1918. A Study of Anglo-American-Swedish Relations, Lund 1972.
  15. ↑ Carlgren, W. M.: Svensk neutralitet 1914-1918 och 1939-1945 [Swedish neutrality 1914-1918 and 1939-1945], in: Historisk tidskrift (1979), pp. 377-397.