Tage Erlander

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Tage Erlander
Tage Erlander 1949.jpg
Erlander in 1949
25th Prime Minister of Sweden
In office
11 October 1946 14 October 1969
Monarch Gustaf V
Gustaf VI Adolf
Preceded by Per Albin Hansson
Succeeded by Olof Palme
Personal details
Born(1901-06-13)13 June 1901
Ransäter, Värmland County, Sweden
Died21 June 1985(1985-06-21) (aged 84)
Huddinge, Stockholm County, Sweden
Political party Social Democrat
Aina Erlander (m. 1930)
Alma mater Lund University
Signature Tage Erlander Signature.svg

Tage Fritjof Erlander (Swedish:  [²tɑːgɛ ɛˈɭanːdɛr] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ); 13 June 1901 – 21 June 1985) was a Swedish politician who served as Prime Minister of Sweden from 1946 to 1969. He was the leader of the Swedish Social Democratic Party and led the government for an uninterrupted tenure of 23 years, one of the longest in any democracy. This led to Erlander being known as "Sweden's longest Prime Minister" referring to both his physical stature – 192 cm, or 6 feet and 3.5 inches – and tenure (the Swedish word lång meaning both long and tall). [1]

Sweden constitutional monarchy in Northern Europe

Sweden, formal name: the Kingdom of Sweden, is a Scandinavian Nordic country in Northern Europe. It borders Norway to the west and north and Finland to the east, and is connected to Denmark in the southwest by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund, a strait at the Swedish-Danish border. At 450,295 square kilometres (173,860 sq mi), Sweden is the largest country in Northern Europe, the third-largest country in the European Union and the fifth largest country in Europe by area. Sweden has a total population of 10.2 million of which 2.5 million have a foreign background. It has a low population density of 22 inhabitants per square kilometre (57/sq mi). The highest concentration is in the southern half of the country.

A politician is a person active in party politics, or a person holding or seeking office in government. Politicians propose, support and create laws or policies that govern the land and, by extension, its people. Broadly speaking, a "politician" can be anyone who seeks to achieve political power in any bureaucratic institution.

Prime Minister of Sweden Head of government of Sweden

The Prime Minister is the head of government in Sweden. Before the creation of the office of a Prime Minister in 1876, Sweden did not have a head of government separate from its head of state, namely the King, in whom the executive authority was vested. Louis Gerhard De Geer, the architect behind the new bicameral Riksdag of 1866 that replaced the centuries-old Riksdag of the Estates, became the first officeholder in 1876.


Ascending to the World War II coalition government in 1944, Erlander rose unexpectedly to leadership upon the death of Prime Minister Per Albin Hansson in October 1946, maintaining the position of the Social Democratic Party as the dominant party in the country. Known for his moderation, pragmatism and self-irony, Erlander often sought approval from the liberal-conservative opposition for his policies, de facto dropping all pretences of wide-scale nationalizations whilst introducing reforms such as universal health insurance, pension additions and a growing public sector while stopping short of raising tax levels above the average OECD levels at the time. Until the 1960s, income taxes were lower in Sweden than in the United States. [2]

Per Albin Hansson Swedish 20th century prime minister

Per Albin Hansson was a Swedish politician, chairman of the Social Democrats from 1925 and two-time Prime Minister in four governments between 1932 and 1946, governing all that period save for a short-lived crisis in the summer of 1936, which he ended by forming a coalition government with his main adversary, Axel Pehrsson-Bramstorp. During World War II, in which Sweden maintained a policy of neutrality, he presided over a government of national unity that included all major parties in the Riksdag with the exception of the Communist Party. Forging the Social Democratic grip on Swedish politics that would last throughout the century, Hansson left an astounding legacy on his party as well as creating the idea of Sweden to become "Folkhemmet", "The People's Home". This remained intact until the early 1990s, including a strict policy of neutrality, a wide-stretching welfare state through parliamentary legislation, and reformist social corporatism rather than Marxist socialization of the means of production. Following the war, Hansson formed a Social Democratic cabinet enjoying absolute majority in the Riksdag before succumbing to a heart attack on his way home from work late at night on 6 October 1946.

Health care in Sweden

The Swedish health care system is mainly government-funded and decentralized, although private health care also exists. The health care system in Sweden is financed primarily through taxes levied by county councils and municipalities.

Arbejdsmarkedets Tillægspension (ATP) is a supplementary (income-related) pension in Denmark, and is Denmark's largest lifelong pension plan. Citizens of Denmark become eligible for ATP payments as soon as they turn 65 years old. Arbejdsmarkedets Tillægspension was amended into law on March 7, 1964.

For most of his time in power, Erlander ran a minority government of the Social Democrats. From 1951 to 1957, he instead ran a coalition with the Farmers' League. [3] [4] The Social Democrats held a majority of seats in the upper house for most of this time and this allowed Erlander to remain in power after the 1956 general election, when the right-wing parties won a majority. A snap election in 1958 then reversed this result.

A minority government, or minority cabinet or minority parliament, is a cabinet formed in a parliamentary system when a political party or coalition of parties does not have a majority of overall seats in the parliament. It is sworn into office, with or without the formal support of other parties, to enable a government to be formed. Under such a government, legislation can only be passed with the support of enough other members of the legislature to provide a majority, encouraging multi-partisanship. In bicameral parliaments, the term relates to the situation in chamber whose confidence is considered most crucial to the continuance in office of the government.

Centre Party (Sweden) centrist, agrarian and liberal political party in Sweden

The Centre Party is a liberal and Nordic agrarian political party in Sweden. Traditionally part of the Nordic agrarian family, the party has increasingly shifted its focus towards free market economics, environmental protection, gender equality and decentralisation of governmental authority. The party's major issues are national economy, environment and integration and it is represented in all of the Riksdags parliamentary committees.

1956 Swedish general election election

General elections were held in Sweden on 16 September 1956. The Swedish Social Democratic Party remained the largest party, winning 106 of the 231 seats in the Second Chamber of the Riksdag. A Social Democratic-Farmers' League coalition government was formed by Prime Minister Tage Erlander after the election with 125 of the total of 231 seats. Although the non-socialist parties held a majority in the Second Chamber, the Social Democrats held a majority in the First Chamber, so a non-socialist government could not be formed. The Social Democrats and the Farmers' League would later split due to disagreements over the pensions system in 1957, leading to the formation of Tage Erlander's third government and a snap election in 1958.

In foreign policy, he initially sought an alliance of Nordic countries, but without success, instead maintaining strict neutrality while building up among the most impressive armed forces in the world (surpassed only by the United States, the Soviet Union and Israel in terms of per-capita spending), making the Swedish Air Force the third largest in the world, while ultimately rejecting nuclear capability, signing the nuclear non-proliferation treaty in 1968. Erlander's mandate coincided with the post–World War II economic expansion, in Sweden known as the record years, in which Sweden saw its economy grow to one of the ten strongest in the world, and subsequently joined the G10.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Soviet Union 1922–1991 country in Europe and Asia

The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were highly centralized. The country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk. It spanned over 10,000 kilometres east to west across 11 time zones, and over 7,200 kilometres north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, taiga, steppes, desert and mountains.

Israel country in the Middle East

Israel, also known as the State of Israel, is a country in Western Asia, located on the southeastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea and the northern shore of the Red Sea. It has land borders with Lebanon to the north, Syria to the northeast, Jordan on the east, the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the east and west, respectively, and Egypt to the southwest. The country contains geographically diverse features within its relatively small area. Israel's economic and technological center is Tel Aviv, while its seat of government and proclaimed capital is Jerusalem, although the state's sovereignty over Jerusalem has only partial recognition.

In the 1968 general election, he won his seventh and most successful victory, with the Social Democrats winning an absolute majority of the popular vote and seats in the lower chamber. Erlander resigned the following year during a process of major constitutional reform and was succeeded by his long-time protégé and friend Olof Palme.

1968 Swedish general election

General elections were held in Sweden on 15 September 1968. Held in the wake of the crushing of the Prague spring, it resulted in a landslide victory for the Social Democratic government and Prime Minister Tage Erlander. It is one of two general elections in Swedish history where a single party received more than half of the vote. Erlander would resign the following year after an uninterrupted tenure of 23 years as head of government.

Olof Palme Swedish politician, Prime Minister from 1969-76 and 1982-86

Sven Olof Joachim Palme was a Swedish Social Democratic politician and statesman. A longtime protégé of Prime Minister Tage Erlander, Palme led the Swedish Social Democratic Party from 1969 until his assassination in 1986, and was a two-term Prime Minister of Sweden, heading a Privy Council Government from 1969 to 1976 and a cabinet government from 1982 until his death. Electoral defeats in 1976 and 1979 marked the end of Social Democratic hegemony in Swedish politics, which had seen 40 years of unbroken rule by the party. While leader of the opposition, he parted domestic and international interests and served as special mediator of the United Nations in the Iran–Iraq War, and was President of the Nordic Council in 1979. He returned as Prime Minister after electoral victories in 1982 and 1985.


He was born in Ransäter, Värmland County, as the son of school teacher Erik Gustaf Erlander (1859–1936). His father had originally had the patronymic surname of Andersson after his father Anders Erlandsson, but had changed that to Erlander, derived from Erlandsson. His mother was Alma, née Nilsson (1869–1961). On his maternal grandmother's side, Erlander descended from the Forest Finns, who migrated to Värmland from the Finnish province of Savonia in the 17th century. As a student at Lund University he was heavily involved in student politics and met many radical students. He graduated in political science and economics in 1928. From 1928 till 1929 he completed his compulsory military service in the Signals Corps and eventually went on to become a reserve Lieutenant. Erlander was a member of the editorial staff of the encyclopedia Svensk Upplagsbok from 1929 to 1938.

Ransäter Place in Munkfors, Värmland

Ransäter is a smaller locality in Munkfors Municipality, Sweden. In 2010, it had a population of 114.

Värmland County County (län) of Sweden

Värmland County is a county or län in west central Sweden. It borders the Swedish counties of Dalarna, Örebro and Västra Götaland, as well as the Norwegian counties of Østfold, Akershus and Hedmark to the west. Prince Carl Philip is Duke of Värmland.

A patronymic, or patronym, is a component of a personal name based on the given name of one's father, grandfather, or an earlier male ancestor. A component of a name based on the name of one's mother or a female ancestor is a matronymic. Each is a means of conveying lineage.

Erlander was elected to the municipal council in Lund in 1930 and became a member of parliament in 1932, and was appointed a State Secretary at the Ministry of Social Affairs in 1938. As State Secretary at the Ministry of Social Affairs, Erlander was one of the most senior officials responsible for the establishment of internment camps in Sweden during World War II. [5] In the camps, which were kept secret to the Swedish public, people from various ethnic minorities as well as political dissidents were interned, particularly Communists and Soviet Union sympathisers. [5]

In 1942, State Secretary Erlander together with then Minister for Social Affairs Gustav Möller initiated a nationwide registration of the Swedish Travellers, a branch of the Romani people that has been resident in Sweden for 500 years. [6] The purpose of the registration was, according to a newspaper article, to make the base for "radical measures" against this "bottom layer of the Swedish population". [6] In Norway, similar lists were established that were handed over to the Nazis during the German occupation of Norway. [6]


Erlander speaks to the Republic of Jamtland's free radio in 1967. Tage Erlander 1967b.jpg
Erlander speaks to the Republic of Jamtland's free radio in 1967.

Erlander ascended to the cabinet in 1944 as minister without Portfolio, a post he held to the next year, when he became Minister for Education. When Prime Minister Per Albin Hansson suddenly died in 1946, Erlander unexpectedly was chosen as the successor and subsequently also as the leader of the party.

Retaining the positions of the Social Democrats from a potent Liberal opposition under Bertil Ohlin in his first election, he later formed a coalition with the Farmers' League between 1951 and 1957. His working relationship with the party's leader, Gunnar Hedlund (Minister for Home Affairs in the coalition government), is known to have been good.

Under Erlander, the central pillars of the Swedish welfare state were enacted between 1946 and 1947, a period known as the Social Democratic “Harvest Time.” In 1946 and 1947, three major reforms were enacted that introduced a basic pension, general child allowances and sickness cash benefits. The National Housing Board was set up as the central authority providing subsidized loans and rent controls, while the National Labour Market Board was established to coordinate the nationalized local employment offices and supervise the union-controlled but state-subsidized unemployment insurance funds. In 1947, a tax reform was carried out that reduced income taxes in low-income brackets, introduced an inheritance tax, and raised the marginal tax rate for higher tax brackets. [7]

In 1948, a general child allowance was made payable to all persons in Sweden with at least one child under the age of 16. In 1947, housing allowances for families with children were introduced. In 1954, housing allowances were introduced for pensioners. In 1960, the income-test for the children's pension was abolished. In 1950, a ten-year experimental period was established to build up a nine-year compulsory comprehensive school to replace the old parallel system. A law of 1955 provided state subsidies for municipally organized vocational schools, while a law of 1958 provided state subsidies for adult education centres. In 1962, a final decision was made on nine-year comprehensive school; implemented over a ten-year period. A law of 1964 revised upper secondary school; introduced special preparatory vocational school (fackskola) to complement the high school (gymnasium). A law of 1964 expanded higher education; new decentralized universities and colleges. A law of 1967 instituted municipal adult education (vuxenutbildning). [8] In 1955, medical insurance that provided earnings-related benefits was introduced, [7] and the following year the Social Democrats sponsored a law on "social help" which further extended social services. [9] A maternity allowance was introduced in 1962 that provided a 6-month period of paid leave to new mothers, and a reform of unemployment benefits in 1968 doubled the maximum duration of such benefits from 30 to 60 weeks. [7]

Erlander coined the phrase "the strong society", describing a society with a growing public sector taking care of the growing demand on many services that an affluent society creates. The public sector, particularly its welfare state institutions grew considerably during his tenure as Prime Minister, while nationalizations were rare. In order to maintain employment for his vast electorate and Swedish sovereignty as a non-NATO member, the armed forces was greatly expanded, reaching an impressive level by the 1960s, while nuclear capability was ultimately dropped after outcries, not least from the Social Democratic Women's League.

The question of nuclear weapons as a means to deter a possible attack remained a divisive factor in Swedish society and among Social Democrats and prompted diplomatic agreements with the United States, guaranteeing intervention in that case of an invasion. Sweden signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty in 1968, dropping all pretences of developing a nuclear weapon.

Resigning at 68 in 1969, with an absolute majority for the Social Democrats in the second chamber since 1968, Erlander was succeeded by 42-year-old Olof Palme, who, although more radical, had in many ways been Erlander's student and protégé. From 1972 to 1982 Erlander published his memoirs in six volumes. He died on 21 June 1985 in Stockholm at the age of 84 from pneumonia and heart failure. After a ceremony in Stockholm, his funeral crossed the country and returned to his home town of Ransäter, Värmland, in a triumphant procession for the final rest.

Aina and Tage Erlander in 1964 Aina and Tage Erlander 1964.jpg
Aina and Tage Erlander in 1964

Personal life

In 1930 he married Aina Andersson. He was the father of mathematician Sven Erlander, who, since 2001, has published his father's diaries.

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Events from the year 1969 in Sweden


  1. Wilsford, David (1995). Political Leaders of Contemporary Western Europe: A Biographical Dictionary. Greenwood. p. 125. ISBN   031328623X.
  2. Cohn, Jonathan (23 May 2011). "More evidence from Europe, particularly Scandinavia, suggests that U.S. taxes can rise without hurting the economy". The New Republic . Retrieved 23 November 2013.
  3. Erixon, Dick (20 September 2006). "Swedish Prime Ministers in history". Web.comhem.se. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
  4. "Tage Erlander" (in Northern Sami). Nationalencyklopedin. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
  5. 1 2 Berglund, Tobias; Sennerteg, Niclas (2008), Svenska koncentrationsläger i Tredje rikets skugga (in Swedish), Stockholm: Natur & Kultur, ISBN   9789127026957
  6. 1 2 3 Lindkvist, Jan (2000), "Resandefolket kräver upprättelse", Transportarbetaren (in Swedish) (4), archived from the original on 19 July 2011, retrieved 3 October 2009
  7. 1 2 3 Mares, Isabela (2006). Taxation, wage bargaining and unemployment. Cambridge University Press. ISBN   0521857422.
  8. Flora, Peter, ed. (1987). Growth to Limits: The Western European Welfare States Since World War II. 4. Walter de Gruyter.
  9. Hancock, M. Donald (1977). "The Swedish Welfare State: Prospects and Contradictions" (PDF). The Wilson Quarterly. 1 (5): 111–126. JSTOR   40255289.

Further reading

Commons-logo.svg Media related to Tage Erlander at Wikimedia Commons

Political offices
Preceded by
Axel Rubbestad
Minister without Portfolio
Succeeded by
Eije Mossberg
Preceded by
Georg Andrén
Minister for Education
Succeeded by
Josef Weijne
Preceded by
Per Albin Hansson
Leader of the Swedish Social Democratic Party
Succeeded by
Olof Palme
Prime Minister of Sweden