Gunnar Sträng

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Gunnar Sträng
Luma-Gunnar Strang Foto Malms reportagebyra13apr1961.jpg
Gunnar Sträng in 1961
Folkhushållningsminister
In office
1947–1948
Minister for Agriculture
In office
1948–1951
Preceded byPer Edvin Sköld
Succeeded bySam B. Norup
Minister for Social Affairs
In office
1951–1955
Preceded byGustav Möller
Succeeded byJohn Ericsson i Kinna
Minister for Finance
In office
1955–1976
Preceded byPer Edvin Sköld
Succeeded byGösta Bohman
Personal details
Born(1906-12-23)23 December 1906
Lövsta, Sweden
Died7 March 1992(1992-03-07) (aged 85)
Political partySocial Democratic Party
OccupationPolitician

Gunnar Georg Emanuel Sträng (23 December 1906 – 7 March 1992) was a Swedish Social Democratic politician, most known for being Sweden's longest serving Minister for Finance.

Sträng grew up in a working-class family in Lövsta, today a part of Stockholm Municipality. After finishing school he started to work as a gardener. In 1927 he joined the local branch of the garderners' union and was soon elected to the board as secretary. A few years later, in 1932, he was elected as an official to the national union organisation for agricultural workers, with the task of recruiting new members in order to force the employers to consent to collective bargaining. In 1938, he was elected vice chairman of the trade union and the following year he succeeded the chairman.

Through the Swedish Trade Union Confederation Sträng was appointed as a representative on various state committees, and on 6 July 1945 Prime Minister Per Albin Hansson offered him to be Minister for Agriculture. Sträng turned him down, but a few days later he accepted to be a member of the cabinet, although not with the title of minister. In 1947 Sträng was made "Conservation Minister" (Swedish: folkhushållningsminister) and implemented harsh measures, such as petroleum rationing. The following year he accepted to be Minister for Agriculture, and in 1951 he became Minister for Social Affairs. During this period, health insurance was made mandatory through a state system.

On 12 September 1955 Gunnar Sträng was made Minister for Finance. One of the major reforms during his time in office was the introduction of value added tax. The joint taxation of spouses was abolished, a change that made it more economically attractive for women to seek paid employment. The Social Democrats, together with the Centre Party also engineered the Swedish newspaper subsidy system, created to support the smaller newspapers in a region in order to prevent "newspaper death" and preserve multitude.

When the Social Democrats did poorly in the 1956 elections, party leader Tage Erlander offered to step down and Sträng was offered to take over the leadership - but refused. He remained Minister for Finance until the Social Democrats lost power to the centre-right in the 1976 elections.

Gunnar Sträng was generally regarded as economically prudent. He was known for wearing "both suspenders and a belt", also a striking symbol of his careful general attitude. He was also known to have a photographic memory and was able to quote the figures from the national budget by heart in his annual presentations on television and made this dull subject something of a popular event. For the Swedish people he was very highly respected as an trustworthy national householder (rikshushållare) of the Swedish economy. His powerful position both inside and outside of the Cabinet, led to his subordinate staff inside the Finance Ministry giving him the nickname "Gustav Vasa".

Preceded by
Per Edvin Sköld
Minister for Finance
1955–1976
Succeeded by
Gösta Bohman