Liberal People's Party (Sweden)

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"Folkpartiet" redirects here. For political party in Finland (Svenska folkpartiet i Finland), see Swedish People's Party of Finland.
Liberal People's Party
Folkpartiet liberalerna
Leader Jan Björklund
Deputy leader Helene Odenjung
Founded 5 August 1934
Headquarters Stora Nygatan 2A, Stockholm
Youth wing Liberal Youth of Sweden
Ideology Liberalism[1]
Social liberalism[1]
Pro-Europeanism[1]
Liberal feminism
Political position Centre-right[2][3]
National affiliation The Alliance
International affiliation Liberal International
European affiliation Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
European Parliament group Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
Colours Blue, orange
Parliament
24 / 349
European Parliament
2 / 20
Counties[4]
117 / 1,662
Municipalities[4]
914 / 12,978
Mayors[4]
4 / 290
Website
www.folkpartiet.se
Politics of Sweden
Political parties
Elections

The Liberal People's Party (Swedish: Folkpartiet liberalerna, FP) is a liberal,[5][6] social liberal[7] and conservative-liberal[8] political party in Sweden. Since the 2006 general election, the party has been part of the Alliance coalition government led by Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt. Through the past two elections, the party has been fourth largest party in the Swedish Riksdag.

Name[edit]

In Sweden itself the party is almost universally referred to as Folkpartiet, the people's party, with liberalerna, "the liberals," only being added in formal or legal contexts (literally, the full name is "People's Party the Liberals"). In English, the party is alternately referred to as the "Liberal People's Party" or simply the "Liberal Party."

History[edit]

  • 1809: The first liberal party is formed after a coup d'état ends 20 years of royal autocracy under the Union and Security Act; it is possibly the first party in the world to use the word "liberal" in its name.
  • 1902: Free-minded National Association is formed as the first liberal party with a national grassroots organisation. It is heavily reliant on the "free religious" church movement.
  • 1923: "Frisinnade Landsföreningen" splits over alcohol prohibition; the anti-ban minority forms Liberal Party of Sweden. "Frisinnade Landsföreningen" heads several governments during the following years.
  • 1934: The parties reconcile and form "Folkpartiet" (The People's Party), i.e. the party in its present form.
  • 1939–45: Partakes in a wartime coalition government comprising all parties except the communists. Sweden sticks to neutrality during the second world war.
  • 1976: Enters a three-party government ending 44 years of Social Democratic Party rule (excepting the wartime emergency grand coalition).
  • 1978: The Liberal Party forms a short-lived minority government by itself, with chairperson Ola Ullsten as prime minister. Hans Blix, of later Iraq-war fame, is foreign minister.
  • 1979: A new attempt at a three-party coalition is made.
  • 1980–82: Forms a two-party coalition government with the Centre party.
  • 1990: Adds "Liberalerna" (The Liberals) to its name.
  • 1991–94: Part of four-party coalition government under Moderate Party leader Carl Bildt.
  • 2002: More than doubles vote share and comes close to a second place in elections; party leader Lars Leijonborg fails to unite a green-liberal four-party coalition government with passive Moderate support.
  • 2006-: Part of a four-party coalition government under Moderate Party leader Fredrik Reinfeldt.

Ideology[edit]

People's Party election workers, 1940 election

The official party ideology has historically been social liberalism, which translates as a strong ideological commitment to a mixed economy, with support for comprehensive but market-based welfare state programs. However they still are social liberals in the way that they support a mixed economy.

While initially allied with the Swedish Social Democratic Party in the struggle for democracy (achieved in 1921) and social reform, the People's Party came to be part of the opposition from the thirties and onwards, opposing Social Democrat demands for nationalization of private businesses. It has stayed opposed to the Social Democrats ever since, often as the largest or second-largest party of the opposition block (called the non-socialists or "de borgerliga", approximately the bourgeois), but often equally critical towards parties on the right. Over time, this has shifted towards a more clear-cut rightwing role. In the mid-nineties, the party seemed to have ruled out the alternative of co-operation with the Social Democrats, focusing instead on bringing them down by strengthening the opposition.

Foreign aid and women's equality were very important issues for the party in the past, and today the party advocates liberal feminism and giving a full percent of the gross national income as foreign aid.

Foreign policy is another high-profile issue. Always oriented towards the United States and the United Kingdom, the party was a strong opponent of Communism and Nazism during the 20th century. While it was part of and supported the Swedish coalition government and its position of neutrality during World War II, the party advocated an active stance against the Soviet Union during the Cold war. The party (alongside Moderaterna) actively supported the struggle of Baltic peoples against the Soviet regime, whereas Social Democrats were wary of irritating the Soviets.[9] As a consequence, it suffered several sharply worded rebukes from the often-ruling Social Democrats for endangering Swedish relations to the Soviet Union. It also criticised what it perceived as Social Democrat tolerance of left wing dictatorships in the third world, and supported the United States in the Vietnam War. After the end of the Cold war it became the first Swedish party to call for abandoning the country's traditional neutrality, in favor of joining NATO.

In the world issues, the party supported decolonization and advocated boycotting South Africa to help overthrow Apartheid rule. It also opposed third world Communist dictatorships. Nowadays, it is strongly supportive of Israel, and former Party leader Per Ahlmark has been especially vocal on the issue.

On the European level, the Liberal People's Party was strongly supportive of the emergence of the European Union, and campaigned for Swedish entry into it (which happened in 1995). It also campaigned for joining the Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union, but this was voted down by the Swedes in a referendum in 2003. The party has aimed to come across as the most "pro-European" party, trying to break what it refers to as the country's "isolationist" mindset. It is supportive of EU enlargement, including letting Turkey join on condition of democratic reforms, and also advocates further integrative measures, with some members, including the youth organization, openly calling for a single federal European state.

In 2003, the Liberal People's Party supported the invasion of Iraq, but stopped short of demanding Swedish participation in the US-led "coalition of the willing". In recent years, and especially under the leadership of Jan Björklund, the party has moved markedly towards conservative liberalism in its social attitudes, taking tougher stands on areas such as crime and punishment, law and order, school and discipline as well as strengthening its abolitionist policies on drugs. In 2008, The Liberal People's Party's support for a controversial legislative change regulating the National Defence Radio Establishment (FRA) in particular upset its youth organisation.

Voter base[edit]

The party voter base is mainly centered on young, white, native-born Swedish middle-class voters with a higher level of education.[citation needed]

Historically the party had a strong base in the 'free churches' (Protestant congregations not part of the state church that turned into powerful grass-roots movements in the late 19th century), but with the exception of certain regions, that is not a significant feature today. Tensions between factions sometimes described as "the free religionists" and "the metropolitan liberals" (occasionally in the form of an open left-right conflict, with the "free religious" members emphasizing the social aspect over liberal economics) was an important part of party life up until the seventies. It provoked a party split in the twenties, centered on the question of an alcohol ban, but differences were eventually repaired (the re-merging of the parties in 1934 is one of the party's plethora of official creation dates, some others being 1895, 1900 and 1902, providing frequent cause for anniversary celebrations).

Since 2002, the party has been accused[by whom?] of trying to attract new voters by adopting populist right-wing rhetoric, although the party proposes to open Sweden's doors to economic migrants and to additional asylum seekers. Former party leader Lars Leijonborg proposed a language test for immigrants who apply for Swedish citizenship. Recently,[when?] Jan Björklund, at the time the party's education spokesman and first deputy chairman, has called on schoolteachers to report schoolchildren with extreme opinions to the intelligence services, something which has caused opposition from within the party, not least from the youth wing. It has campaigns strongly against terrorism and criminality. While these tactics may have helped to more than double party support in the 2002 elections (to 13.3%),[citation needed] they have also provoked accusations of betraying liberal ideology from within leftist factions of the party, and led to criticism from the strong liberal press in Sweden. However, the party, which has historically been the most pro-immigration Swedish party, has also proposed measures intended to make it easier for foreigners to visit relatives living in Sweden, and to ease restrictions on economic migrants, for which it has been opposed by the governing Social Democrats. In its policy on integration, the party support more open immigration combined with measures to help new arrivals to integrate into Swedish society.

2006 computer hacking scandal[edit]

On 4 September 2006, only weeks before the 2006 general election, the Social Democratic Party reported to the police that its internal network had been hacked into. It has been reported that members of the Liberal People's Party had copied secret information not yet officially released to counter-attack Social Democrat political propositions on at least two occasions. On 5 September, the Party Secretary, Johan Jakobsson, voluntarily chose to resign. Leading members of the party and its youth organisation were under police investigation suspected for criminal activity. All members of the party were acquitted by the court however, while an official of the party's youth organisation, as well as one from the Social Democrats and a newspaper reporter, were found guilty.[10][11][12][13][14]

Affiliated organisations and international memberships[edit]

The Liberal People's Party has a youth organization called Liberal Youth of Sweden (Liberala ungdomsförbundet, LUF), which has its own platform and maintains a separate organisation from the party. Its chairperson is Linda Nordlund.

There is also a women's organization called Liberal Women (Liberala Kvinnor, LK, chairperson Birgitta Ohlsson) and immigrants' organization called Liberal Mångfald, LM, (Liberal Multicultural Association, chairperson Anna Steele Karlström). Additionally, party members maintain a number of small ad hoc "networks" addressing specific issues.

The Liberal People's Party is a member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe and Liberal International. It is also part of Liberal organisations on the Nordic and Baltic levels. The party's MEPs sit with the Alliance of Lberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) parliamentary group.

General election results[edit]

Election results[edit]

Election year # of
overall votes
 % of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
+/– Government
1936 376,161 12.9 (#4)
27 / 230
Increase 3 in opposition
1940 344,113 12.0 (#3)
23 / 230
Decrease 4 in government
1944 398,293 12.9 (#4)
26 / 230
Increase 3 in government
1948 882,437 22.7 (#2)
57 / 230
Increase 31 in opposition
1952 924,819 24.4 (#2)
58 / 230
Increase 1 in opposition
1956 923,564 23.8 (#2)
58 / 231
Steady 0 in opposition
1958 700,019 18.2 (#3)
38 / 231
Decrease 20 in opposition
1960 744,142 17.5 (#2)
40 / 232
Increase 2 in opposition
1964 720,733 17.0 (#3)
43 / 233
Increase 3 in opposition
1968 688,456 14.3 (#3)
34 / 233
Decrease 9 in opposition
1970 806,667 16.2 (#3)
58 / 350
Increase 24 in opposition
1973 486,028 9.4 (#4)
34 / 350
Decrease 24 in opposition
1976 601,556 11.1 (#4)
39 / 349
Increase 5 in government
1979 577,063 10.6 (#4)
38 / 349
Decrease 1 in government
1982 327,770 5.9 (#4)
21 / 349
Decrease 17 in opposition
1985 792,268 14.2 (#3)
51 / 349
Increase 30 in opposition
1988 655,720 12.2 (#3)
44 / 349
Decrease 7 in opposition
1991 499,356 9.1 (#3)
33 / 349
Decrease 11 in government
1994 399,556 7.2 (#4)
26 / 349
Decrease 7 in opposition
1998 248,076 4.7 (#6)
17 / 349
Decrease 9 in opposition
2002 710,312 13.39 (#3)
48 / 349
Increase 31 in opposition
2006 418,395 7.54 (#4)
28 / 349
Decrease 20 in government
2010 420,524 7.06 (#4)
24 / 349
Decrease 4 in government

[15]

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Party leaders[edit]

Leader Took office Left office Duration
Gustaf Andersson 1935 28 September 1944 ca. 9 years, 303 days
Bertil Ohlin 28 September 1944 1967 ca. 22 years, 63 days
Sven Wedén 1967 26 September 1969 ca. 2 years, 300 days
Gunnar Helén 1969 7 November 1975 ca. 6 years, 342 days
Per Ahlmark 7 November 1975 4 March 1978 2 years, 117 days
Ola Ullsten 4 March 1978 1 October 1983 5 years, 211 days
Bengt Westerberg 1 October 1983 4 February 1995 11 years, 126 days
Maria Leissner 4 February 1995 15 March 1997 2 years, 39 days
Lars Leijonborg 15 March 1997 7 September 2007 10 years, 176 days
Jan Björklund 7 September 2007 Incumbent 6 years, 357 days (ongoing)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Parties and Elections in Europe: The database about parliamentary elections and political parties in Europe, by Wolfram Nordsieck
  2. ^ http://www.thelocal.se/41924/20120709/
  3. ^ Josep M. Colomer (25 July 2008). Political Institutions in Europe. Routledge. p. 261. ISBN 978-1-134-07354-2. 
  4. ^ a b c "Allmänna val, valresultat". Statistics Sweden. 
  5. ^ Christina Bergqvist (1 January 1999). Equal Democracies?: Gender and Politics in the Nordic Countries. Nordic Council of Ministers. p. 320. ISBN 978-82-00-12799-4. 
  6. ^ Thomas Banchoff; Mitchell Smith (12 November 2012). Legitimacy and the European Union: The Contested Polity. Taylor & Francis. p. 123. ISBN 978-0-415-18188-4. Retrieved 1 February 2013. 
  7. ^ Political and Economic Dictionary of Western Europe
  8. ^ Hans Slomp (26 September 2011). Europe, A Political Profile: An American Companion to European Politics [2 volumes]: An American Companion to European Politics. ABC-CLIO. p. 433. ISBN 978-0-313-39182-8. 
  9. ^ Ett liv för Baltikum : journalistiska memoarer. - Stockholm : Timbro, 2002. - 351 s. : ill. - ISBN 91-7566-530-1
  10. ^ Liberal admits Social Democrat computer hack, The Local, September 4, 2006 (English)
  11. ^ Press officer behind Liberals' computer scandal, The Local, September 4, 2006 (English)
  12. ^ Police to question more Liberal activists, The Local, September 5, 2006 (English)
  13. ^ Liberal party secretary resigns, The Local, September 5, 2006 (English)
  14. ^ Three convicted for people's party's computer infringement, Sveriges Radio, April 27, 2007
  15. ^ Statistiska Centralbyrån, retrieved 8 July 2012

External links[edit]