Carl Gustaf Ekman

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Carl Gustaf Ekman
Carl Gustaf Ekman.jpg
21st Prime Minister of Sweden
In office
7 June 1926 – 2 October 1928
(2 years, 117 days)
Monarch Gustaf V
Preceded by Rickard Sandler
Succeeded by Arvid Lindman
In office
7 June 1930 – 6 August 1932
(2 years, 60 days)
Monarch Gustaf V
Preceded by Arvid Lindman
Succeeded by Felix Hamrin
Personal details
Born (1872-10-06)6 October 1872
Munktorp, Västmanland County
Died 15 June 1945(1945-06-15) (aged 72)
Stockholm, Stockholm County
Political party Freeminded People's Party
Spouse(s) Laura Ekman (née Widlund)

Carl Gustaf Ekman (6 October 1872 – 15 June 1945) was a Swedish politician, Member of Parliament 1911-1932 (both lower and upper houses), leader of the Freeminded People's Party 1924-1932 and Prime Minister from 1926 to 1928 and again from 1930 to 1932.

He was married to Laura Ekman (née Widlund), with whom he had four children.

Biography[edit]

Carl Gustaf Ekman was born in Munktorp (now Köping Municipality) in Västmanland County to farmer and soldier Carl Ekman and Josefina Säfström. He began working at the age of twelve as a farmhand, read everything he could get his hands on, and was entrusted with duties inside the temperance movement, where he became a functionary. He was promoted to director of the Friends of the Temperance Movement's disability and burial fund in Eskilstuna. He was appointed in 1908 to chief editor of the liberal newspaper Eskiltuna-Kuriren. His attempt to be elected to Parliament (the Riksdag) failed because of the domination of the Social Democrats in the industrial town of Eskiltuna, but in 1911 the Liberal Party gave him a seat in the upper house for the county of Gävleborg. He quickly established himself as the country's leading proponent of total prohibition on alcohol. In 1913 he moved to Stockholm and quickly captured a seat in the Riksdag representing Stockholm.

Ekman became the most influential and controversial politician of the 1920s. Among Social Democrats he was regarded as a "class traitor", having come from a working-class background but becoming a member of a non-socialist party. He was in fact behind the downfall of several Social Democrat governments: Hjalmar Branting's in 1923, Rickard Sandler's in 1926, but also that of the conservative government of Arvid Lindman in 1930. In 1924 Ekman became the leader of the newly formed Freeminded People's Party (Frisinnade folkpartiet).

As party leader he worked to strengthen the party's influence by cooperating with both the right and left. His strategy for power was based on controlling the political center in order to 'control the game', this being predicated upon no one bloc having a clear majority in the Riksdag.

After Sandler's fall from power in 1926, Ekman became Prime Minister for the first time. He was able to play the right off against the left by appealing to both and by doing so he became more successful than expected. He resolved an old debate on local taxes with a law on proportional taxation, which is still in effect to this day. He also concluded a sweeping reform of the school system. In 1928 the conservatives won in the polls and he was forced to give up power to Arvid Lindman.

Ekman returned in 1930 when he and Per Albin Hansson defeated the government's proposal to raise tariffs on grain. His second period as Prime Minister was difficult; the international depression after the Wall Street Crash of 1929 reached Sweden, affecting both industry and agriculture. Ekman's traditional attitude of thriftiness made it difficult for him to accept economic-stimulation programs which would involve heavy public spending. [clarification needed]

Ekman's second government

In addition to this a debate began after the Kreuger Crash about political contributions from Ivar Kreuger which Ekman personally accepted on behalf of his party. At first Ekman denied having received any such money, but in the end the public debate forced him to resign from office a month before the Riksdag election in 1932, which resulted in a great defeat for the Freeminded People's Party. Ekman never returned to politics. Less than two years after his resignation his party was also gone, merged with the Liberals to form the Liberal People's Party (Folkpartiet). Not even his enemies thought that he had actually taken money for himself, nevertheless his conflicting statements on the matter were used to cast suspicion on him so that a formidable political opponent could be disposed of.

Ekman's legacy has been colored to a great extent by his political maneuvering as well as the scandal leading to his resignation, which do not do justice to his result-oriented policies during an anxious period when no lasting political majority could be formed.[citation needed] He died in Stockholm on June 15, 1945.

Party political offices
Preceded by
Party constituted
Chairman of the Freeminded People's Party
1924–1932
Succeeded by
Felix Hamrin
Political offices
Preceded by
Rickard Sandler
Prime Minister of Sweden
1926–1928
Succeeded by
Arvid Lindman
Preceded by
Arvid Lindman
Prime Minister of Sweden
1930–1932
Succeeded by
Felix Hamrin