Thorbjörn Fälldin

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Thorbjörn Fälldin
Thorbjörn Fälldin in 1967.
Prime Minister of Sweden
In office
12 October 1979 – 8 October 1982
MonarchCarl XVI Gustaf
Preceded byOla Ullsten
Succeeded byOlof Palme
In office
8 October 1976 – 18 October 1978
MonarchCarl XVI Gustaf
Preceded byOlof Palme
Succeeded byOla Ullsten
Personal details
Nils Olof Thorbjörn Fälldin

(1926-04-24)24 April 1926
Högsjö, Sweden
Died23 July 2016(2016-07-23) (aged 90)
Ås, Sweden
Political partyCentre Party
Solveig Fälldin
(m. 1956)

Nils Olof Thorbjörn Fälldin (24 April 1926 – 23 July 2016) was a Swedish politician. He was Prime Minister of Sweden in three non-consecutive cabinets from 1976 to 1982, and leader of the Swedish Centre Party from 1971 to 1985.[1] On his first appointment in 1976, he was the first non-Social Democrat Prime Minister for 40 years and the first since the 1930s not to have worked as a professional politician since his teens.[2] He was also the last Prime Minister to not be from the Social Democrats or Moderate Party.

Early life[edit]

Fälldin was born in Högsjö parish, Ångermanland, the son of the farmer Nils Johan Fälldin and his wife Hulda (née Olsson).[3] He grew up in a farming family in Ångermanland,[1] and, in 1956, he and his wife, as a newlywed young couple, took over a small farm. However, the farming authorities did not approve the purchase, as the farm was considered too small and too run down for production, and so refused to provide farm subsidies. This fight led him into the youth branch of the Swedish agrarian party Farmers' League (Bondeförbundet), which in 1958 changed its name to the Centre Party. He and his family maintained their farm throughout his political life, and when he resigned from politics in 1985, he immediately returned to it.[4]

Political career[edit]

Fälldin entered the Swedish national political stage when he was elected to the Swedish Riksdag in 1958 for the agrarian-rooted Centre Party. In competition with Johannes Antonsson, he became first vice-chairman of the party in 1969, and then chairman in 1971, succeeding veteran Gunnar Hedlund. In 1973, Fälldin proposed that the party should merge with the Liberal Party, but he failed to gain the support of a majority of party members.[citation needed]

In the 1976 election, the Social Democrats sensationally lost their majority for the first time in 40 years. The non-Socialist parties (the Centre Party, the Liberal Party and the Conservative Moderate Party) formed a coalition government, and, as the Centre Party was the largest of the three, Fälldin was appointed prime minister. Two years later, however, the coalition fell apart over the issue of Swedish dependency on nuclear power (with the Centre Party taking a strong anti-nuclear stand), which led to Fälldin's resignation and the formation of a minority Liberal Party government.[citation needed] In 1978, Fälldin sued Aftonbladet for 1 krona after they published a satirical interview with him from a mental hospital in which they claimed he had schizophrenia. Fälldin claimed that this was illegal, but later lost the case.[5]

Following the 1979 election, Fälldin regained the post of prime minister, despite his party suffering major losses and losing its leading role in the centre-right camp, primarily due to public disenchantment with the Centre Party over its compromise on nuclear power with the nuclear-friendly Moderates, and he again formed a coalition government with the Liberals and the Moderates. This cabinet also lasted for two years, when disagreement over tax policies compelled the Moderates to leave the coalition. Fälldin continued as prime minister until the election in 1982, when the Social Democrats regained power as the Socialist bloc won a majority in the Riksdag.[citation needed]

After a disastrous second election defeat in 1985, Fälldin faced massive criticism from his party. He resigned as party leader and retired from politics. His posts since that time included chairman of Föreningsbanken, Foreningen Norden, and Televerket.[6]


Fälldin was one of the board members of the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation in the 1970s.[7]

Personal life[edit]

In 1956, he married Solveig Öberg (born 1935), daughter of the farmer Albert Öberg and Sofia (née Näsman).[3] He died at the age of 90, on 23 July 2016.[8][9] The funeral was held on 11 August 2016 in Härnösand Cathedral, and he was buried at Högsjö Cemetery in Högsjö, Härnösand Municipality.[10]


During his 27 years as a national politician, Fälldin was generally appreciated in most political camps for his straightforwardness, unpretentiousness, and willingness to listen to all views. His two periods as Prime Minister were far from easy; trying to get three very different parties to work together in a coalition, while Sweden underwent its worst recession since the 1930s.[citation needed]

Fälldin refused to allow security concerns to rule his life. During his years as prime minister, he lived on his own in a small rented apartment in central Stockholm, while his family ran the farm up in northern Sweden. He did his own cooking and carried out refuse in the morning to the communal dustbins in the backyard, before taking a brisk 15-minute walk to his office, shadowed at a distance by an unmarked police car which had been waiting outside the apartment block; his only concession to the security concerns.[citation needed]

While serving as prime minister during the U 137 crisis in October–November 1981, Fälldin is remembered for the simple answer "Hold the border!" (Håll gränsen!) to the request for instructions from the Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces when faced with a suspected Soviet raid to free the stranded submarine.[11]

Awards and decorations[edit]



  1. ^ a b Marklund, Kari, ed. (1992). "Fälldin, Thorbjörn". Nationalencyklopedin (in Swedish). Vol. 7. Höganäs: Bra Böcker. ISBN 91-7133-426-2.
  2. ^ Wilsford, David, ed. (1995). Political leaders of contemporary Western Europe: a biographical dictionary. Greenwood. pp. 132–39.
  3. ^ a b Uddling, Hans; Paabo, Katrin, eds. (1992). Vem är det: svensk biografisk handbok. 1993 [Who is it: Swedish biographical handbook. 1993] (in Swedish). Stockholm: Norstedt. pp. 362–363. ISBN 91-1-914072-X.
  4. ^ Karmann, Jens (24 July 2016). "Thorbjörn Fälldin 1926–2016". Dagens Nyheter (in Swedish). Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  5. ^ Pär Fjällström (10 December 2017). Fälldin, Statsministern som blev bonde (Video) (in Swedish). Stockholm: SVT.
  6. ^ Svenning, Olle; T, Per (2014). Sveriges statsministrar under 100 år / Thorbjörn Fälldin (in Swedish). Albert Bonniers förlag. ISBN 9789100132453. SELIBR 13496022.
  7. ^ Lars Engwall (2021). "Governance of and by Philanthropic Foundations". European Review. 29 (5): 681–682. doi:10.1017/S1062798720001052.
  8. ^ Svensson, Frida (24 July 2016). "Thorbjörn Fälldin har avlidit – blev 90 år". Svenska Dagbladet (in Swedish). Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  9. ^ "Swedish ex-prime minister Thorbjorn Fälldin dead at 90". The Local. 24 July 2016. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  10. ^ Stattin, Gunnar (29 July 2016). "Planerna för Fälldins begravning tar form flera toppnamn närvarar". Örnsköldsviks Allehanda (in Swedish). Archived from the original on 13 August 2016. Retrieved 11 August 2016.
  11. ^ Wolodarski, Peter (30 October 2011). "När ryssen kom sade Fälldin: "Håll gränsen"". Dagens Nyheter (in Swedish). Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  12. ^ "Thorbjörn Fälldin". Svenska Dagbladet (in Swedish). 12 November 1990. p. 10. Retrieved 11 March 2024.
  13. ^ "Tildelinger av ordener og medaljer" [Awards of orders and medals]. (in Norwegian). Royal Court of Norway. Retrieved 15 December 2021.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by Chairman of the Centre Party of Sweden
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Prime Minister of Sweden
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prime Minister of Sweden
Succeeded by