Olof Palme

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In 1953, Palme was recruited by the social democratic prime minister Tage Erlander to work in his secretariat. From 1955 he was a board member of the Swedish Social Democratic Youth League and lectured at the Youth League College Bommersvik. He also was a member of the Worker's Educational Association.

In 1957 he was elected as an Member of Parliament (Swedish: riksdagsledamot).[6] He represented Jonkoping County.

In the early 1960s Palme became a member of the Swedish Agency for International Assistance and was in charge of inquiries into assistance to the developing countries and educational aid. In 1963, he became a member of the Cabinet - as Minister without Portfolio in the Cabinet Office, and retained his duties as a close political adviser to Prime Minister Tage Erlander. In 1965, he became Minister of Transport and Communications. One issue of special interest to him was the further development of radio and television, while ensuring their independence from commercial interests. [7] In 1967 he became Minister of Education, and the following year, he was the target of strong criticism from left-wing students protesting against the government's plans for university reform. When party leader Tage Erlander stepped down in 1969, Palme was elected as the new leader by the Social Democratic party congress and succeeded Erlander as Prime Minister.

Palme became, alongside Raoul Wallenberg and Dag Hammarskjöld, one of the most internationally-known Swedes of the 20th century, on account of his 125-month tenure as Prime Minister, fierce opposition to American foreign policy, and assassination.[8][9]

His protégé and political ally, Bernt Carlsson, who was appointed UN Commissioner for Namibia in July 1987, also suffered an untimely death. Carlsson was killed in the Libyan terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland on December 21, 1988 en route to the UN signing ceremony of the New York Accords the following day. Palme was said to have had a profound impact on people's emotions; he was very popular among many on the left, but equally detested by the right.[10] This was due in part to his international activities, especially those directed against the United States, and in part to his aggressive and outspoken debating style.[11][12]


As leader of a new generation of Swedish Social Democrats, Olof Palme was often described as a "revolutionary reformist".[13][14] Domestically, his socialist views – especially the Social Democrat drive to expand Labour Union influence over business – engendered a great deal of hostility from more conservatively inclined Swedes.

Olof Palme carried out major reforms in the Swedish constitution such as reducing the chambers the chambers in the parliament from two to one in 1969 and in 1975, removing the last of the monarch's constitutional powers. He also established a law which increased job security. Employers could not fire workers so easily anymore. In the Swedish 1973 general election the socialistic parties and the non-socialistic parties got 175 places each in the parliament. The Palme administration continued to govern the country but several times they had to draw lots to decide on some issues. But the most important issues were decided in agreement.[15]

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