The Making of 'Swedish Democracy': Anti-Aristocratic, Royalist, Reformist and Exemplary

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This article investigates the formation and use of the notion of the ancient origins of Swedish democracy before the Second World War. A commonplace of the early rhetoric on the ancient origins of Swedish democracy was its reference to an anti-aristocratic tradition, despite the variety of political positions that the rhetoric served. It was the leitmotif of the first sporadic notions of a democratic past in the 18th century, it was the main topic of the romantic idealisation of a coalition between the monarch and the peasants, and it served as an argument in struggles over suffrage reforms and parliamentary government. When parliamentary democracy was institutionally established, the ‘aristocracy’ lost its central place in the rhetoric of a Swedish democratic tradition. At the same time, the notion of a coalition between the people and the monarch was revised to a more non-specific notion of the common interest between the people and the government. In the context of the rise of totalitarianism, a ‘Swedish’ and ‘Nordic’ democratic tradition was employed as a rhetorical means of defending existing political institutions in the country.
Translated title of the contribution'Ruotsalaisen demokratian' muodostuminen : Antiaristokraattonen, rojalistinen, reformistinen ja esimerkillinen
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Modern European History
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)147-160
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 615 History and Archaeology
  • ancient
  • democracy
  • modern
  • Nordic
  • political tradition
  • Sweden

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