The Politics of Compromise: A Study of Parties and Cabinet Government in Sweden

By Dankwart A. Rustow | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
THE FOUR-PARTY SYSTEM: SWEDISH POLITICS SINCE 1920

BY 1920 the Swedish party system had attained its full maturity. The parliamentary parties of the late nineteenth century had represented the interests of the agrarian, bureaucratic, and industrial oligarchy. Under the impact of dynamic popular movements embodied in the Liberal and Socialist parties, the heirs of the traditionally privileged groups had joined forces. The new Conservative party had accepted the need for organized popular support. An Agrarian party was about to take its place next to the Conservatives, Liberals, and Socialists as the fourth major party. During the following decades several minor parties were to appear on the scene. Yet only those which split off from one of these four managed to secure a place in parliament. None of the splinters has threatened the four-party system; only the Communists in their various incarnations have attained any degree of permanence.

In the wake of the First World War a number of fundamental changes in the country's political structure had reached their culmination and fulfillment--changes which had accompanied the growth of the modern party system as both cause and effect. The suffrage had been extended to the adult citizenry on equal terms. The political contrast between the houses of parliament had been reduced to insignificant dimensions. The king had yielded the exercise of his legislative and executive powers to cabinet and riksdag. The riksdag had accepted ministerial leadership and the cabinet had submitted to parliamentary responsibility. In sum, the nineteenth century constitutional monarchy, with its tenuously balanced structure rising upon a narrow oligarchic base, had given way to parliamentary cabinet government and democracy. Aristocratic defenders of privilege and proletarian champions of revolution had met on a middle ground of liberal constitutionalism. Popular support for the Liberals declined in proportion as their demands approached fulfillment; yet for a time the party continued to

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The Politics of Compromise: A Study of Parties and Cabinet Government in Sweden
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • Tables xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter I - Origins of the Modern Parties 9
  • Chapter II - The Victory of Democracy 43
  • Chapter III - The Four-Party System: Swedish Politics Since 1920 90
  • Chapter IV - The Electorate 116
  • Chapter V - Party Organization 144
  • Chapter VI - The Legislative Process 173
  • Chapter VII - Cabinet Government 197
  • Chapter VIII - The Politics of Compromise 226
  • Appendix 239
  • Index 251
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