Path: Table of Contents > Essay on Party Politics > Party 241
Swedish Social Democratic Party, 241
Variables and Codes for 1950-1962
For the concepts and variables below, use these links to Political Parties: A Cross-National Survey:
Governmental Status
Issue Orientation
Goal Orientation
Organizational Complexity
Organizational Power
Organizational Coherence
Membership Involvement
The "ac" code is for "adequacy-confidence"--a data quality measure ranging from 0 (low) to 9 (high)
Party Name and Code Number
Swedish Social Democratic Labor Party, 241
Sveriges Socialdemokratiska
Information Base and Researchers
The information base for party politics in Sweden consists of 575 pages from 35 Documents, with 275 pages or 48 percent pertaining to the Social Democratic Labor Party. Jean Jacobsohn indexed the literature for retrieval. Eve Harris coded the variables.

Institutionalization Variables
, 1.01-1.06
1.01 Year of Origin and 1.02 Name Changes
1889, AC9
0, AC9
The national organization of the Social Democrats was formed in 1889. The first Social Democratic representative was elected to the Riksdag in 1896, when the party's leader, Hjalmar Branting won a seat. As a result of
universal male suffrage in 1909, the Social Democrats emerged as the largest party in the lower house of the Riksdag 1914. There have been no changes in the party's name since its inception.
1.03 Organizational Discontinuity
0, AC9
It appears that no splits or mergers or any consequence occurred during our time period.
1.04 Leadership Competition
5, AC8
Branting remained party leader until his death in 1925. He was succeeded by per Albin Hansson, who held the post until his death in 1946. Tage Erlander replaced him and remained the chairman of the party throughout our time period. Our consultant advises that selection of the party chairman is formally the prerogative of the party congress. The chairman need not be chosen from among the members of the national executive committee. In any event, there were few challenges to the established leadership during our time period.
1.05 / 2.05 Legislative Instability and Strength
Instability is .01, AC8
Strength is .48 for 1st half, AC7, and .48 for 2nd half, AC9
While the Social Democrats always were the dominant party in the Riksdag during our time period--never holding less than 46 percent of the seats - they never had a clear majority, falling just short with 49 percent of the seats both at the beginning and end of our period.
1.06 / 2.06 Electoral Instability and Strength
Instability is .02, AC8
Strength is .45 for 1st half, AC8, and .47 for 2nd half, AC9
In the elections of 1952, 1956, 1958, and 1960, the Social Democrats never won less than 44 nor more than 48 percent of the votes.

Governmental Status Variables, 2.01-2.07
2.01 Government Discrimination 0 for 1st half, AC6
0 for 2nd half, AC6
Viewed from a cross-national perspective, the Social Democrats seem not to have taken any special advantage of their long period in the government to discriminate against other parties. It has not taken action to ban the Communist Party, nor is there much thought Given to the possibility, which is viewed as both impractical and undemocratic.
2.02 Governmental Leadership
7 out of 7 for 1st half, AC9
6 out of 6 for 2nd half, AC9
Except for very briefly in 1936, the Prime Minister of Sweden was a Social Democrat since 1932. This position was held by Tage Erlander throughout our time period.
2.03 Cabinet Participation
7 out of 7 for 1st half, AC9
6 out of 6 for 2nd half, AC9
From 1951 to 1957, the Social Democrats shared power with the Agrarian (later the Center) Party in a coalition government. The rest of the time the Social Democrats governed alone.
2.04 National Participation
6 for 1st half, AC6
6 for 2nd half, AC6
The Social Democrats were described in the literature as a national party with strength throughout the country, and it would seem so from the continued strong showing of the party at the polls. But it is clear that the party has more success in the industrialized areas than in the rural areas, although it is not clear how much difference in success there is, for there was no breakdown of election returns by areas in the file. (the Communist Party has its greatest strength in the North.)
2.07 Outside Origin
10, AC5
According to an official document of the Social Democratic Labor Party, the party began in 1889 at a convention attended by 49 representatives of 69 organizations across Sweden. Most of the organizations represented were trade unions, but there were some political associations, a charity organization, and a temperance society as well. Because some of the major figures in the founding of this party had been jailed or were headed to jail for their activities, the party is given a compromise score of 10, reflecting both its organizational roots and the outlawed status of its leaders.

Issue Orientation Variables, 5.01-5.15
5.01 Ownership of Means of Production
3, AC9
Nationalization of basic industries was accomplished under Social Democratic governments, but the party has stopped short of pushing for total nationalization of industry, recognizing that private enterprise has a definite place in the economy. At least during the first part of our time period, the Farmer Party in coalition with the Social Democrats served to dull the edge of pressure for further nationalization.
5.02 Government Role in Economic Planning
3, AC5
Rather than directing the economy through master plans that prescribe industrial production and control consumption, the party has promoted its considerable economic planning through more indirect ways, e.g., restructuring taxes to encourage and discourage investment and production in the private sector of the economy.
5.03 Redistribution of Wealth
3, AC7
The Social Democrats had as part of their platform the leveling of differences in income. This they have largely accomplished through both a progressive income tax structure and severe estate taxes. It appears also that The government did promote the break-up of large estates under the Social Democrats. Thus while the party relied mainly on taxation to accomplish the redistribution of wealth, their policies were so complete and pronounced as to warrant the higher code.
5.04 Social Welfare
5, AC9
Numerous programs that used state resources to provide social benefits were part of the Social Democratic program and were enacted into law. The party backed compulsory participation programs for pensions, old-age payments, and health insurance. It also embarked on long range public housing programs.
5.05 Secularization of Society
0, AC8
Early in their history, the Social Democrats were opponents of the State Church, but during our period they made no reference to religion in their program, and they did not advocate changing the status of the Lutheran Church. There is also some organized religious activity among some party members, which is officially neutral on the subject.
5.06 Support of the Military
3, AC7
Once distinctly anti-military, the Social Democrats have taken to a policy of armed neutrality. The Chinese support of North Korea in the Korean War brought increased defense expenditures, and defense costs were borne as a matter of perceived necessity during our time period.
5.07 Alignment with East-West Blocs
0, AC7
The firm policy of the Social Democrats is one of neutrality, or freedom from alliances. If the party leaned away from this stance during our time period (prior to the Vietnam War), it was certainly in the direction of the West, but Sweden's position near the Soviet Union has helped it to hold to its position of strict neutrality.
5.08 Anti-Colonialism
0, AC3
The issue of colonialism or foreign domination had not figured in Swedish affairs for years. The literature does not discuss the Social Democrats' view of anti-colonialism as it might apply to other countries of the world during our time period. Our consultant notes, however, that the party has been vigorously anti-colonial since the middle of the 1960s.
5.09 Supranational Integration
1, AC7
Under Social Democratic leadership, Sweden entered the Nordic Council and EFTA, but the Social Democrats were far more cautious about entrance into EEC than were the Liberals and Conservatives.
5.10 National Integration
1, AC3
Most of the literature states that there is no distinctive politicization of regions or minorities in Sweden, but one source says that parts of the North and some of the Finn and Lapp minorities are more likely to vote for communist. It appears that there is no special effort by the Social Democrats -who can be equated with the government--to impose national cultural values on these minorities.
5.11 Electoral Participation
5, AC9
Under Social Democratic governments, the voting age was lowered from 23 to 21 in 1945, and a later proposal was made by the government after our time period to lower the voting age to 19. Other restrictions on voting were also eliminated by Social Democratic governments.
5.12 Protection of Civil Rights
No information. Our consultant notes that this question did not really arise in Sweden during our period and not even to a great extent now.
5.13 Interference with Civil Liberties
3, AC5
There is a reference to the Social Democrats exercising censorship of campaign material which threatens to disturb relationships with a foreign power. Viewed against the general backdrop of freedom of expression in Sweden, this is judged to be a minor deviation from a more basic policy in opposition to government interference with civil liberties.
5.14 / 5.15 US--Soviet Experts Left-Right Ratings
US says 3, Non-Communist left
Soviets say 2, it is basically a Workers' Party . Recently, larger segments of white collar workers, intelligentsia, civil servants, and small businessmen have entered into its composition. It is a typical reformist party. It has been in power since 1932, but the economic and social bases of a capitalist system have remained unchanged and dominated by large capital. The party program of 1960 states that contemporary capitalism has changed and exists harmoniously with class interests.

Goal Orientation Variables, 6.01-6.55
6.00 Open Competition in the Electoral Process
4, AC9
Like the other three major parties in Sweden, the Social Democrats follow a strategy of open competition through elections to win governmental office.
6.10 Restricting Party Competition
0, AC9
Despite their long period in the government, the Social Democrats have not departed from their basic strategy of winning office through competitive
6.20 Subverting the Political System
0, AC9
It is clear that the Social Democrats never undertook a strategy of subverting the political system in order to win office.
6.30 Propagandizing Ideas and Program
6.31--2, AC6. The Social Democrats do not operate a paper directly but get support from Labor Oriented Press. The Party does sponsor two magazines, Aktuellt and Tiden.
6.32--AC1. No information.
6.33--2, AC9. The Social Democrats are very active in passing resolutions and publicizing their issue stands.
6.34--2, AC5. The magazines appear to carry party statements on a regular basis.
6.50 Providing for Welfare of Party members
6.51 to 6.53--0, AC6. Our consultant reports that the Party itself does not
provide food, clothing, or shelter, does not run employment services, and does not intercede with the government on behalf of individual citizens.
6.54--1, AC6. The social democrats offer adult education courses, (as Swedish parties generally are claimed to operate.)
6.55--2, AC6. The Social Democrats engage in the same type of social events as do other parties, sponsoring youth groups, summer camps, dances, and so on. The party also owns property used for conferences, schools, and a variety of activities, including recreation.

Autonomy Variables, 7.01-7.05
7.01 Sources of Funds
3 (sector 01), AC7
One source indicates that about 1/3 of the Party's support comes from membership dues. The rest of the Party's funds must be made up elsewhere. Labor Union's support is judged to make up the bulk of this remainder. If the Labor Members' dues were taken into account, the Party would be scored even lower on autonomy.
7.02 Source of Members
2 (sector 01), AC7
There is some disagreement among the sources, but most hold that about 2/3 of the Party's membership comes through collective affiliation with Trade Unions, which can decide by majority vote at local Unions whether or not to affiliate with the Social Democratic Labor Party. Our consultant also states that all individual union members can decide to disaffiliate from Party Membership, legally at least.
7.03 Sources of Leaders
There is some information about the backgrounds of top party leaders, but there was no tabulation of the backgrounds of Parliamentary Members of the Social Democratic Party.
7.04 Relations with Domestic Parties
4 for 1st half, AC9
6 for 2nd half, AC9
From 1951 to 1957, the Social Democrats participated in a governing coalition with the Agrarian Party. But during most of the second half of our time period, the Social Democrats governed alone, although lacking a majority of the lower chamber. The party is scored only virtually autonomous, for it had to depend on defecting members in order to maintain a parliamentary majority. Usually, that support came from the Communist Party.
7.05 Relations with Foreign Organizations
3, AC6
The Party affiliated with the Socialist international throughout our time period.

Organizational Complexity Variables, 8.01-8.07
8.01 Structural Articulation
10, AC5
The national organs for the Social Democratic Party consist of a Congress that meets only before elections, which means (during our time period) once every four years, an Executive Council of 28 members, and an Executive Committee of seven members, which is chosen by the Party Congress. The relationship of the external organs to the Parliamentary Organziation is not well stated at all.
8.02 Intensiveness of Organization
6, AC6
The most intensive unit of organization is the 10 to 15 member face-to face discussion groups, but the most prevalent unit of organization is the Commune, of which there are about 2,500.
8.03 Extensiveness of Organization
6, AC5
There is no information in the file indicating how widespread are the face-to face discussion groups of the party, which is the most intensive unit of organization. If attention is shifted to the Commune as the basic unit, then the coverage would be widespread, for there are about 2,500 in the country, and coverage is rather thorough.
8.04 Frequency of Local Meetings
3, AC4
One source holds that the frequency of meetings of local organizations for most Swedish parties is once a year, but this may not be true of discussion groups.
8.05 Frequency of National Meetings
The National Committee supposedly meets more frequently than the Party Congress, but no mention is made of the frequency of meetings.
8.06 Maintaining Records
16, AC6
The Party does engage in publishing party propaganda to a considerable degree, and it is believed to maintain very good membership lists. It also maintains a research division to aid in the production of party materials, and our consultant says it is of very high quality. It also can draw out the resources of the Trade Union research division.
8.07 Pervasiveness of Organization
17, AC8
There is a Women's Federation affiliated with the Party and a Youth Federation, which is not tied to the Party but supportive of it. In addition, there are numerous Trade Unions linked to the Party at the local level. Other organizational support comes through ties with a Christian Social Democratic Federation, a Student League, and a Seafarers' Federation.

Organizational Power Variables, 9.01-9.08
9.01 Nationalization of Structure
4, AC7
There are 27 Party districts that correspond to electoral districts for Parliament which provide the link between the county districts and the national organs. The National Committee is not described as the master of the Parliamentary Party.
9.02 Selecting the National Leader
6, AC5
The matter of selecting the party leader is not clear, for party leadership changed so infrequently within the Social Democratic Party and then only upon the death of the previous leader. But it appears that the choice must be made from the set of Parliamentary Representatives, for the leader of the Party is also the leader in the Parliament. Then it seems that the Party Congress has the final decision on the selection, at least formally.
9.03 Selecting Parliamentary Candidates
3, AC9
The process of selecting Parliamentary candidates is quite decentralized, with the local organizations or the local leaders having considerable freedom, despite the occasional suggestion of candidates from the National Organization. A list of candidates is drawn up by the District Committee based on suggestions furnished by Communes and Members. A special convention is often held to approve the list.
9.04 Allocating Funds
2, AC5
Most of the funds are collected locally but then distributed to the National organization.
9.05 Formulating Policy
4, AC8
Policy is of course made by the National Executive Committee and the Party in Parliament. But the Party Congress does participate in the enactment of policy, and local organizations frequently submit resolutions to the National Committee for presentation at the convention.
9.06 Controlling Communications
6, AC6
There is no daily newspaper published directly by the Social Democrats, although there is a Social Democratic press with a circulation less than half the circulation of newspapers in support of the Bourgeois Parties. The press that is favorably inclined to the Social Democrats is run largely by the confederation of Trade Unions.
9.07 Administering Discipline
0, AC4
Technique for establishing discipline within the Party are not discussed in the literature for our time period. Once, in 1934, the National Committee formally expelled a left-wing deviant. But it appears that the Party tolerates occasional defections from the Party position in Parliament as long
As the defection does not threaten its control of government. What structure there is for administering discipline, and there does not seem to be much, appears to come from the "Council of Confidence" and the Executive Organization of the Social Democratic Party in the Riksdag. Members are rewarded and punished for their behavior by promotion or demotion within the Riksdag itself. But this is purely an informal process of discipline.
9.08 Leadership Concentration
4, AC5
The positions of Party Chairman and Parliamentary leader are joined within the Social Democratic Party. Erlander, who held both posts and who was also Prime Minister of the country, was no doubt a powerful person within the Party. But the literature does not claim that he had his own way on policy matters. It appears that he needed support from the others in the executive Committee or the parliamentary executive in order to bind the party effectively to courses of action.

Coherence Variables, 10.01-10.06
10.01 Legislative Cohesion
.90, AC3
The literature does not report tabulations of votes in the Riksdag and discusses Party cohesion only in general terms. It seems that the Social Democrats are highly cohesive on most votes, although the Party does not insist on conformity and does not have much of a mechanism to press potential deviants inline.
10.02 Ideological Factionalism
2, AC6
The Social Democrats have a latent left wing composed of members with more extreme Socialist sympathies, but there have been few occasions for this group to emerge in the form of a party faction.
10.03 Issue Factionalism
3, AC5
There are at least two issues which have aroused factionalism within the Social Democratic party. One is the pace and extent of nationalization of industry and the other is the abolition of the monarchy. Radical elements within the party have been in favor of greater nationalization and in
opposition to the monarchy, but the latter is not really a serious issue.
10.04 Leadership Factionalism
0, AC8
In the absence of references to divisions within the Party over the issue of leadership and in the absence of overt challenges to Erlander's leadership, it appears that there has been no basis for factions to form over contests for party leadership. Our consultant states that there were absolutely no leadership factions during our period.
10.05 Strategic or Tactical Factionalism
1. AC6
There is no information in the literature, but it appears that there should have been some discussion concerning the coalition with the Farmer Party and the decision to form a minority government with implicit Communist support. Our consultant notes that there was some discussion, but there was nothing approaching the formation of a faction.
10.06 Party Purges
0 for 1st half, AC9
0 for 2nd half, AC9
The Party has no real machinery to discipline Parliamentary members for deviating from the Party position. It surely has not engaged in purges as the concept is commonly known.

Involvement Variables, 11.01-11.06
11.01 Membership Requirements
2, AC7
Most of the membership arises through collective affiliation with local Trade Unions. Considering the bulk of the membership, it appears that the registration requirement does not apply to the collectively affiliated members and that payment of dues constitutes the main requirement.
11.02 Membership Participation
2, AC4
The literature cites a general lack of activity by most party members, but it is assumed that at least half of the members have attended an occasional meeting.
11.03 Material Incentives
1, AC3
There is almost no information available on the matter of incentives for party activity. Because the Social Democrats have been in power so long, it is assumed that some of the Party workers have jobs dependent on Social Democratic success.
11.04 Purposive Incentives
1, AC3
Because the Party has such strong Labor Union Member support, it is assumed that some of the party workers are motivated by the programs that have been proposed and carried out by the Social Democratic Party.
11.05 Doctrinism
1, AC3
The Party publishes a great deal of issue oriented literature, and our consultant feels that the reports of Party Congresses, special study groups, and so on do have the stamp of Party doctrine.
11.06 Personalism
0, AC7
There are no references to charismatic qualities of Erlander, which would serve to motivate the Party militants in their Party activity, but our consultant notes that much of Erlander's success was due to the fact that Swedes felt "comfortable" with him in a low key way.