11

Sweden is widely considered one of the most leftist or progressive country in the world, and one of the core ideologies leftists have is egalitarianism.

But they still employ monarchism, and it is fundamentally incompatible with egalitarianism in my opinion. I found one similar question on Quora but no answer solved my question. One answerer said Swedish monarchism doesn't have any political power but it is same as countries like Japan, and it doesn't meet egalitarianism.

So I wonder, why do Sweden, the seemingly extremely liberal country, still employ monarchism? Is there any movement that tries to abolish it, or is there any political party that supports it? How do citizens think about it?

The poll or survey is highly appreciated.

  • 2
    Why are you asking about Sweden specifically? Wouldn't the same reasoning apply to Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway and Denmark? – JJJ Sep 9 '18 at 15:45
  • 6
    @JJJ Actually I wanted to ask these countries as well, but fear it would be closed as too broad, so picked up Sweden, which I think is the most progressive. – Blaszard Sep 9 '18 at 15:47
  • I think asking about progressive monarchies in general would be fine. It doesn't really matter, I guess the reasons are generally the same for all of those. – JJJ Sep 9 '18 at 15:49
  • While some details differ, in general I believe that European monarchies, laws regarding monarchies, and attitudes towards them are roughly similar. I think replacing "Sweden" with "European countries" "EU countries", or "Western-European countries" in this question would make sense. – user11249 Sep 9 '18 at 15:57
  • @MartinTournoij might be tricky if the UK does really badly (economically speaking) with brexit and end up having to abolish. Also, the reasons may be a bit different. Many tourists go to England to see the monarchy stuff, I don't think that's as much the case in those other countries (though there may be other economic arguments in favour). – JJJ Sep 9 '18 at 16:38
8

The king in Sweden, like monarchs in several other modern constitutional monarchies, have no formal authority. No power to rule.

Like most other monarchs today, He only has ceremonial, and representative duties. Stuff like visiting other countries, attending ceremonies, hosting representatives from other states etc. So the political power is held by the democratic government.

In Sweden, they have had monarchs (kings, ruling queens, viceroys and regents) going back at least a thousand years iirc. So it is an old Tradition. A tradition older than many countries in fact.

There will (probably) always be people with opinions one way or the other, but I don't think any political party would gamble on something like that. It would be like trying to gather votes on saying they want to rip out parts of the country's identity. So why should they want to abolish something like that?

  • Thanks but it is same as Japan (another country that has constitutional monarchy) and there certainly exists people who want to abolish monarchism, especially since the taxes of citizens are used for them. That is incompatible with egalitarianism. – Blaszard Sep 11 '18 at 19:59
  • @Blaszard: Egalitarianism has its limits. For example, in France the president is immune from prosecution, cannot be required to testify etc. – RedGrittyBrick Oct 25 '18 at 15:57
5

There are two main reasons why Sweden is still formally a monarchy, even though there is a long standing majority in the parliament ("riksdag") to abolish it.

Firstly it remains due to sentimental reasons. As mentioned in the answer from svin83, the swedish monarchy goes a long way back. And even though several parties wants to end monarchy as a matter of principle, the king and the royal family have massive popular support. So actually bringing the matter to a vote might cost votes, while the number of voters who sees reluctance to actively end monarchy as a deal breaker is very small. (ie there are certainly active republicans, but they are too split on other issues to be a political force)

But there is another reason. Swedish national politics until quite recently was completely dominated by the social democratic party. Even through some "intermissions" with a non-social-democratic government, they were a formidable political power house.

Abolishing monarchy would also imply a president with some amount of political power, a potential threat to a party holding a dominating position. Therefore, status quo remained.

(Note, I am aware that the second part has a certain air of conspiracy theory. It must be noted that there is absolutely no hard support that this ever was done as a concious tactic. Still, it was not in that partys interest to push a republic agenta too hard.)

  • "a president with some amount of political power": not necessarily. Presidents in parliamentary states often have a role which is similar to constitutional monarchs, and are mostly (though not entirely) figureheads. – Steve Melnikoff Sep 10 '18 at 12:12
  • 1
    @SteveMelnikoff a typical example? In the case of Sweden, any function apart from pure figurehead would be more power than the king has. – Guran Sep 10 '18 at 18:49
  • @Guran. Germany and Israel are 2 examples of countries where the president has no more or no less power than a constitutional monarch (Sweden, Belgium, United Kingdom ...). – Bernard Massé Sep 10 '18 at 23:55
  • @Guran so why would a president suddenly get more powers than the monarch? Sure, it could open that discussion, but if you are the ruling party doing the thing, you are mostly in control how to do it. – Frank Hopkins Oct 25 '18 at 22:32
  • @Darkwing True. But if you benefit from status qou, why rock the boat? – Guran Oct 26 '18 at 4:34
3

Tradition/cultural heritage, popular support, apolitical head of state, representation

Tradition/cultural heritage

Monarchs have been players for power on the Scandinavian Peninsula since before the countries there were even known by their present day names. The first Swedish king in a consecutive regnal succession — Erik the Victorious — did not even have a unified Sweden to rule over; the nation was divided into several lands. The modern Sweden was formed in the Early Vasa Era, from 1523 to 1611.

So one could say Sweden had its kings before before its kings had Sweden. Sweden was born a monarchy and has remained so since then.

Popular support

The Swedish royal family enjoys popular support. And although support for the family as a whole has been veining in later years, the heir apparent — crown princess Victoria — earns the highest popular support of any public figure among Swedes.

There is a republican movement, seeking to abolish the Swedish monarchy, but even they give a vote of confidence to Victoria.

enter image description here

Crown princess Victoria enjoys the highest popular support among Swedes

Apolitical head of state

The monarch is also the head of state, and seeing that the process by which the monarch is appointed is apolitical, so is the head of state. Having an apolitical head of state makes it easy to avoid all the baggage that political allegiances and grievances bring. And it also makes it easy for the monarch and their family to represent Sweden.

Representation

Monarchs make for effective national representatives. Internationally, kings, queens, princesses and princes make for lots of Ooh's and Aah's. Although the concept of the sovereign monarch is terribly outdated in a majority of the world, royalty still elicit awe and wonder. As much people want to consider themselves enlightened and above the old nonsense of giving respect to a title and inherited standing... we are still charmed by the notion.

No downsides

The downsides of letting the head of state be an inherited office are wholly a matter of principle and not something that negatively affects the Swedish democracy.

In summary

Sweden has no downsides to having a monarch, and the positive aspects of it are tangible. There are some that are opinionating that Sweden should — for the sake of the democratic principle — abolish the monarchy. But practically speaking, the upsides of keeping it are good enough to warrant this exception.

  • No downsides? For the first 500 years or so, the kings didn't inherit their position but were elected. – hensti Jan 6 at 2:12

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.