Ingvar Carlsson


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(b. Borås, 9 Nov. 1934)

Swedish; Prime Minister 1986–91, 1994–6 The son of a warehouse worker, Carlsson went to school and then to a commercial high school in his native town. He subsequently studied social sciences at Lund University and took a degree in 1958 after five terms instead of the usual eight. At school and university he became chairman of the local Social Democratic Labour Youth/Student clubs. At Lund he came to the attention of Prime Minister Tage Erlander and was recruited to work as an assistant in the Cabinet office 1958–60. In 1960–1 he took a year out to read economics in the United States. On his return to Sweden in 1961 he was elected chairman of the Social Democratic Youth League and remained in that position until 1967.

In 1965 Carlsson was elected to parliament. In 1967–9 he served as an undersecretary in the Cabinet office. In 1969, when Palme became Prime Minister, Carlsson was appointed Minister of Education until 1973 and then Minister of Housing until 1976. During his party's years in opposition 1976–82 he was given major policy planning assignments especially in the economic and energy fields.

These services were rewarded on Palme's return to office in 1982 with the specially created post of Deputy Premier. In this capacity Carlsson continued to plan long-term policies for his party. On Palme's assassination in February 1986 it was therefore clear that Carlsson should succeed, and he received unanimous endorsement from the party's national executive committee.

Carlsson won elections in 1988 and 1994 and buttressed his minority government in 1995 by entering into an understanding with the non-socialist Centre Party. In March 1996 he retired from office with the satisfaction of having seen his country vote for EU membership and his party remain essentially united in the face of this and other potentially divisive issues. He was chairman of the independent inquiry into the actions of the United Nations during the 1994 Rwanda genocide, which produced a critical report in 2000.

Subjects: Politics.

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