Swedish general election, March–April 1887

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Early general elections were held in Sweden in March and April 1887, having not been due until the autumn.[1] They had been called following a debate over rye tariffs, and became known as the "tariff election".[1] The result was a victory for the pro-free trade candidates, who won 136 of the 221 seats.


Tariffs had become a major political issue in Sweden during the mid-1880s. In 1885 a campaign for tariffs to be introduced on grain was rejected by both chambers of the Riksdag. The following year the issue was debated again, and whilst the Second Chamber approved their introduction, the First Chamber rejected them. The matter was settled when a joint sitting of the two chambers rejected the initiative.[1]

In 1887 a tariff on rye was voted down 70–68 in the First Chamber, which went onto vote down all other tariffs.[1] The Second Chamber then approved the rye tariff by 111–101. With it looking as if the tariff proposal would be passed at a joint sitting, King Oscar II dissolved Parliament with the support of Prime Minister Robert Themptander, and called fresh elections.[1]


An intensive election campaign led to a large increase in voter turnout; since the changes to the electoral system in 1866 turnout had always been below 25%, but for this election it was 48%.[1] Only 21.9% of the male population aged over 21 was eligible to vote.[2]

Bloc Votes % Seats
Free traders 58.6 136
Protectionists 41.4 85
Total 129,717 100 221
Source: Lewin, p46; Lewin, p329


Following the spring elections, some MPs attempted to delay a decision on tariffs by proposing that a commission of inquiry be set up. Although this was supported by Themptander, Parliament rejected the idea.[1]

Despite the Spring elections, the scheduled August and September elections still went ahead, resulting in another victory for the free trade bloc, albeit with a reduced majority.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Leif Lewin (1989) Ideology and Strategy: A Century of Swedish Politics Cambridge University Press, p46
  2. ^ Lewin, p329