Chapter

‘President Persson’—How Did ‘President Persson’—How Did Sweden Get Him?

Nicholas Aylott

in The Presidentialization of Politics

Published in print March 2005 | ISBN: 9780199252015
Published online April 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191602375 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199252017.003.0008

Series: Comparative Politics

‘President Persson’—How Did ‘President Persson’—How Did Sweden Get Him?

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Sweden is undoubtedly a parliamentary democracy. Indeed, many felt that the legislature had become too strong, and the executive too weak. But recently, this argument has been turned round. The Social Democratic Prime Minister, Göran Persson, has frequently been described as a ‘presidential’ figure. Has Sweden become presidentialized?

Organizational changes, including the empowerment of the Prime Minister's Office and the country's accession to the EU in 1994, have certainly enhanced the chief executive's resources. Just as important, though, has been the interaction of the Swedish style of ‘negative parliamentarism’ and the contemporary party system. While the Left bloc has a parliamentary majority, the practical consequence is to make any alternative to a Social Democratic prime minister highly unlikely. With full control of his party, his position becomes nearly impregnable. Other ministers are increasingly recruited from outside parliament, as in a presidential system. When it comes to the electoral face, the picture is less clear. The media are certainly more party-leader-focused. But persuasive evidence that this also applies to voting behaviour has not (yet) been found. In sum, Sweden has become somewhat ‘presidentialized’. But electoral shifts, especially if they lead to change in the party system, could set the process back.

Keywords: bloc politics; intra-party power; media; negative parliamentarism; party leader; Persson; presidentialization; Social Democrats; Sweden; voting behaviour

Chapter.  10296 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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