DOI: 10.5553/RP/048647001991033001049

Res PublicaAccess_open


Sweden, the crown of the state

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Torbjörn Larsson, "Sweden, the crown of the state", Res Publica, 1, (1991):49-60

    Tbe role of Swedish royal family has been reduced to an almost exclusively ceremonial one during the 20th century, and this reduction of functions has possibly been carried out further in Sweden than in any other monarchy - with the exception of Japan. The Swedish King is for example no longer responsible even pro forma for the formation of the Government, but it took a long time before he was thus stripped of all his power. By the mid-1800s his influence on the economy had been greatly diminished, and by 1905 (when the union with Norway was dissolved) bis influence on foreign policy had also vanished. Tbe last time a Swedish King ex erts any real power is in 1914, when he insisted on choosing bis own advisors. In reality he only managed to substitute a government he disliked for one which he liked better (even if it wasn't his first choice). But after 1917, when the King is forced to accept a government which included Social Democrats, his influence is reduced to virtually nothing. Officially, however, the King is not reduced to figure-head until 1974, when the new Swedish constitution was passed. Tbe new constitution stated, after a great deal of negociating between the Social Democrats and the nonsocialist parties, that Sweden should remain a monarchy hut the Head of State should only have a ceremonial role. Apparently no one in the royal f amily had any serious objections to this new order and they didn't try to stop it. Power and influence is not, however, only related to the laws of a country. The King and the whole royal family still exert a good deal of influence over the Swedish people by setting an example. The image the royal family wants to project is that of traditional conservative values; they are all in f a vor of a strong defence, church going and f amily life. The present King has given bis opinion on a few occasions on rather controversial issues - whether this has been part of a strategy or simply a mistake is impossible to say. All in all the present royal family seems to be quite satisfied with their position as figure-head on the Swedish barge, which, according to the public opinion polls, the Swedish people consider to be a very fitting role for a modern monarch.

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