Olof Palme

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Olof Palme in the 1970s.

Olof Palme (January 30, 1927 – February 28, 1986) was a Swedish Social Democratic politician. He was Prime Minister from 1969 to 1976 and from 1982 until his assassination in 1986.


  • Former Prime minister Tage Erlander spoke on radio a year ago about the people's home and about how he visited his senile mother at a residential hospital outside of Karlstad. When he came to visit her she told him; I'm so happy here. Everyone is so nice to me and I get good care and nice food. But who is paying for all this? Is it you Tage? And Erlander said; no I'm not paying, you're paying for this yourself mother. You have paid for this your entire life. You have grown up in this society, you have taken care of the family all these years, you have been a good citizen. And you have the right to be taken care of when you get old and infirm, not because of charity, not because you have a thick wallet, but because you are a Swedish citizen. This is your society, our society. You have the same right to this as anyone else. That is the welfare state and it is our greatest pride!
    • Olof Palme, August 28, 1985, in debate with the leader of the opposition before 1985 years general election.
  • Apartheid cannot be reformed. It has to be eliminated.
    • Olof Palme, February 21, 1986: Quoted in: Roberta Seret (2011) World Affairs in Foreign Films: Getting the Global Picture, p. 122.
  • Human beings will find a balanced situation when they do good things not because God says it, but because they feel like doing them.
    • Quoted in: V. Thomas (2009) The God Dilemma: To Believe Or Not to Believe,.
  • They build their democratic institutions with pedantic conscientiousness.
  • The bourgeoisie seemed to live in the illusion that an effort for peace presupposed an almost unreserved support for the American position. The hallmark of a balanced bourgeois critique seems to be that it should be heard as little as possible. Preferably be almost silent. That it is surrounded by so many reservations that it loses every meaning and that it is guaranteed not to affect any business.
    • Palme responds to the criticism from the bourgeoisie parties after his criticism directed at the US bombing of Hanoi. Source: Sveriges Radio: P3 Dokumentär - "Palmemordet".

Quotes about

  • Yet, alongside Western weaknesses, there were also serious problems for the Soviet system, while the American position was less bleak, in both absolute and relative terms, than the successive electoral defeats of presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter in presidential elections in 1976 and 1980 might suggest. Moreover, the failure of the Communists to benefit substantially from the changes in Portugal, Spain and Greece was matched by Communist weakness elsewhere in Western Europe. Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, French President from 1974 to 1981, and Helmut Schmidt, German Chancellor from 1974 to 1982, combined to act as a very strong stabilising force and to relaunch the EEC project. Within the Socialist International, the so-called Socialist Triangle of Willy Brandt, Olof Palme, Swedish Prime Minister, and Bruno Kreisky, Austrian Chancellor, was dominant. In Italy, the Communist Party, the most powerful in Western Europe, adopted a ‘Euro-Communism’ that was opposed to Soviet direction. Enrico Berlinguer, who became Party Secretary in 1973, a key figure, was committed to the existing democratic system and pursued what was termed the ‘historic compromise’ with the established Christian Democrat-dominated political system. A pact was negotiated in 1976, with the Communist Party agreeing not to try to overthrow the Christian Democratic government. Euro-Communism was a term coined in 1975 by Western European Communist leaders keen to demonstrate their democratic credentials. More generally in Western Europe, the declining position of heavy industries was a challenge to the trade unions that were central to left-wing political parties, and notably to the Communists.
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