1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Sweden
SWEDEN (see 26.188). The Swedish census of 1910 showed an increase since 1900 of 7.5%, from 5,136,441 to 5,522,403 inhabitants. The pop. on Jan. 1 1920 was 5,847,037 (2,868,395 males and 2,978,642 females), of whom 1,701,249 were living in cities, distributed as follows: Norrland (northern division) 1,018,009, Svealand (central division) 1,879,146 and Gotaland (southern division) 2,949,882. The density of pop. is rather low; in Götaland 34, Svealand 23 and Norrland only 4 inhabitants per square kilometer. The chief towns with a pop. exceeding 20,000 inhabitants (Jan. 1 1920) were Stockholm (415,201), Gothenburg (200,577), Malmö (111,931), Norrköping (57,377), Helsingborg (45,805), Gävle (36,092), Örebro (35,096), Eskilstuna (30,103), Västerås (29,530), Jönköping (28,875), Upsala (28,041), Karlskrona (27,029), Linköping (26,300), Borås (23,941) and Lund (22,827).
The excess of births over deaths is low: 10.6 per 1,000 in 1910, 6.9 in 1915 and 5.2 in 1919. The birth-rate for 1919 was 19.6 per 1,000. There were 24,704 emigrants in 1906, 27,816 in 1910, 7,512 in 1915, 10,571 in 1916, 6,440 in 1917, 4,853 in 1918, 7,337 in 1919. During the war emigration was naturally difficult. The immigration figures were: 6,357 in 1915, 6,713 in 1916, 5,811 in 1917, 4,932 in 1918, 7,809 in 1919. The United States received the largest contingent of the emigrants, but Norway, Denmark and Canada also received considerable numbers. Swedes resident abroad number between 2,120,000 and 2,245,000, of whom 1,500,000 are in America and 370,000 in Finland.
Occupations.—Agriculture, fishing and forestry provided 48.4% of the pop. with their livelihood in 1910; in 1900 the percentage had been 54.4, and in 1890 61.51, the decline having been progressive since 1840, when the percentage was 80.9.
Those dependent on employment in industry, mining, trade and communications represented 45.8% of the pop. in 1910, as against 38.8% in 1900, 31% in 1890 and 10.7% in 1840. Those following the so-called “free crafts” (fria yrken) or engaged in the public service (allmän tjänst) represented 5.8% in 1910 (6.8% in 1900, 7.5% in 1890 and 8.4% in 1840). The most significant feature in this development is the increased importance of the industrial section. The census figures for 1920 in this respect were not available in 1921, but this section now represents half the population.
Agriculture.—Cultivated soil included 3,723,000 hectares in 1915, 1,715,000 hectares being used for grain, 1,411,000 for fodder stuffs, 26,100 for root crops, 3,000 for other crops, and 333,000 being left fallow. Gardens in 1915 occupied 47,533 hectares. The total value of the harvests in 1914 was estimated at 1,112,000,000 kr. and in 1920 at 2,012,000,000 kronor. The annual consumption of wheat increased from 47.7 kgm. per person in 1891 to 87.8 in 1915. The consumption of rye diminished from 110.6 in 1891 to 98.1 in 1915. The country's own production of corn has not been sufficient, and large supplies have been imported. During the decade previous to the war about 50% of the wheat was imported, and from 10% to 15% of the rye. The ease with which corn could be imported militated against all attempts to make the country self-supporting in this respect, and efforts came to be concentrated on stock-raising. The number of horses in 1916 was 701,099, of cattle 2,913,159, and of pigs 1,065,396. It was the agricultural policy of the country before the war to import a considerable amount of the corn required and large supplies of maize, oilcakes and other fodder stuffs, and in their place to export live stock, butter and cheese. The balance was not in Sweden's favour if seen merely from an agricultural standpoint. In 1913 there was an exportation surplus for live stock of 16,500,000 kr. and for butter and cheese of 46,700,000 kr., but there was an importation surplus for other animal products of 25,400,000 kr.; for grain, potatoes and seed corn of 58,600,000 kr.; for fodder stuffs of 22,800,000 kr. and for manure of 14,800,000 kr. The balance showed an importation surplus of 58,300,000 kr. Some decades earlier the country was as good as self-supporting, but the great industrial population has come into being since then and conditions of life have been radically changed thereby.
A more intense cultivation of the soil has been carried out with great energy. The splitting up of the land for the most part into small holdings has been a disadvantage to a certain extent. The large farms lead the way, and in localities where modern methods of agriculture sufficiently prevail the small farmers join together in coöperative societies. The scientific study of plant-growing and of manures is carried on in different parts of the country under the guidance of a central institute in Stockholm. Seeds have been greatly improved under the influences of the seed society in Svalöv (in Skåne), which also exports seeds. The Swedish moss cultivation society, which has its headquarters in Jönköping, has taken the lead in the systematic cultivation of the country's wealth in bogland.
Fishing contributes considerably towards the support of the population. The value of a year's catch may be estimated at between 20,000,000 and 30,000,000 kronor. Export of fish provides a balance of gain to the country of some millions of kronor a year. During the years of the World War measures were taken to promote the consumption of fish in Sweden itself.
Forestry.—Out of Sweden's total land area, which amounts to 41,000,000 hectares, 21,400,000, or nearly 52%, constitute forest-bearing land, whereof about 4,900,000 hectares, or 23.1%, are public property. In 1913 the output of sawed or planed timber was estimated at 7,800,000 cub. metres, mechanical wood pulp 326,000 tons, chemical wood pulp 860,000 tons, charcoal 4,300,000 cub. metres, and other products 18,500,000 cub. metres. In the same year the exports of plain sawn and planed wood were valued at 186,900,000 kr., of partly worked wood at 28,600,000 kr., and of wood-pulp at 99,700,000 kr., or 315,200,000 kr. altogether. These exports amounted to 38.6% of the total exports of the country. In certain years the exports of the products of the forests have amounted in value to half the total exports of Sweden. The economic world crisis after the war naturally caused a great diminution in export.
Industry.—Sweden is also rich in iron ore, and her water-falls make her well equipped for industrial enterprises. But coal is to be found in only one province, Skane, and she is obliged to import large supplies of both coal and coke. The great distances for transport, moreover, entail heavy freight costs. Workmen enjoy a correspondingly high standard of living.
In 1915 the products of manufactories and mines had a value of something over 3,000,000,000 kronor. The extent to which Swedish industries had developed may be seen from the fact that the amount of horse-power in machinery per 1,000 workers had increased to 3,532 in 1915, from 2,841 in 1911 and 1,980 in 1906. The most important wood-sawing industries are found on the coast of Norrland, notably around Sundsvall and Hernösand. The timber is floated down the big rivers from the forests. Paper pulp is one of Sweden's most important exports. Paper is another. The exports of mechanical wood-pulp (dry weight) in 1915 amounted to 150,103 tons, of which 80,783 went to Great Britain. In the same year Sweden exported 721,786 tons (dry weight) of chemical paper-pulp, of which 298,056 went to Great Britain. The iron industry is to be found within a broad belt of land nearly level with Stockholm and a little farther to the north. The use of charcoal has helped to make practicable the manufacture of Swedish high-quality steel. In 1915 there were 135 iron-works (with 28,868 workmen), of which 78 had in all 120 furnaces in use, producing 748,928 tons of pig-iron and 11,773 tons of castings. The exports of iron and steel in 1915 had a value of 97,600,000 kr., as compared with imports of 27,800,000
kroner. Foundries and mechanical engineering works in 1915 had an output of 339,600,000 kr.; exports were valued at 115,600,000 kr., as compared with imports of 41,400,000 kronor.
During the war some industries throve exceedingly, as, for instance, those of iron, paper-pulp and paper; others suffered appreciably at times from the lack of raw materials, as, for instance, the textile industry. During the second half of 1920 and in 1921 industry was hit hard by the economic crisis.
Commerce.—Sweden's foreign trade in 1910-20 presented a curious picture, inasmuch as the value of her exports during the war period exceeded that of her imports. In 1910 her imports amounted to 669,200,000 kr. and her exports to 592,900,000; the corresponding figures for 1914 were 726,900,000 and 772,400,000. The figures for the subsequent war years were as follow 1915, imports 1,142,500,000 kr. and exports 1,316,400,000 kr. 1916, imports 1,138,600,000 kr. and exports 1,556,400,000 kr. 1917, imports 758,600,000 kr. and exports 1,349,600,000 kr.; 1918, imports 1,233,300,000 kr. and exports 1,350,400,000 kr. After the war the picture changes. In 1919 the figures were: imports 2,534,000,000 kr. and exports 1,575,700,000 kr.; in 1920 imports 3,373,500,000 kr. and exports 2,293,600,000 kr. It will be noted now goods were regularly drawn out of the country during the war, while the imports were inadequate. The circumstance that home-grown wood was to a great extent used instead of imported coal also counted. When the war came to an end the country lacked reserve stocks and needed many articles of consumption. Importation increased, in part on speculative lines, from Germany and Russia, and with results which for the most part were unfortunate.
It may be interesting to give figures illustrating Sweden's commercial relations with the leading belligerent Powers. In 1913 imports into Sweden amounted to 846,500,000 kr.; exports from Sweden to 817,300,000. Her imports from Great Britain amounted to 206,800,000 kr. and those from Germany to 289,900,000 kr.; her exports to Great Britain amounted to 237,300,000 kr. and those to Germany to 179,100,000. Her transactions with Germany were somewhat in excess of those with Great Britain, but the latter country came first as purchaser of Swedish products. During the war a great reduction came. Imports into Sweden from Great Britain amounted to 183,800,000 kr. in 1914; 213,500,000 kr. in 1915; 164,400,000 kr. in 1916; 65,100,000 kr. in 1917; 148,700,000 kr. in 1918 and 668,900,000 kr. in 1919. Imports from Germany came to 238,600,000 kr. in 1914; 251,500,000 kr. in 1915; 420,200,000 kr. in 1916; 288,200,000 kr. in 1917; 447,900,000 kr. in 1918 and 269,100,000 kr. in 1919.
Exports to Great Britain amounted to 258,300,000 kr. in 1914; 329,600,000 kr. in 1915; 320,100,000 kr. in 1916; 216,100,000 kr. in 1917; 252,600,000 kr. in 1918; 509,900,000 kr. in 1919. Exports to Germany came to 174,800,000 kr. in 1914; 486,400,000 kr. in 1915; 437,500,000 kr. in 1916; 352,100,000 kr. in 1917; 292,800,000 kr. in 1918 and 130,800,000 kr. in 1919. During the war years British coal imports into Sweden declined, and Germany largely made good the deficiency, being naturally anxious to secure imports from Sweden. The figures for the Swedish importation of coal and coke, in thousands of tons, during the years 1913-7 were: from England, 4,916; 4,683; 2,816; 1,707 and 604; and from Germany, 431; 335; 2,174; 4,281 and 1,708. It will be seen how energetically Germany came forward in Great Britain's place as exporter to Sweden.
Shipping.—The Swedish commercial fleet in 1910 included 1,214 steamers and motor-boats, of 842,460 total tonnage dead- weight; in 1915 1,278 vessels, of 984,799 tonnage; in 1918 1,238 vessels, of 894,260 tonnage. The figures for sailing vessels were in 1910 1,635, of 204,624 tonnage; in 1915 1,422, of 161,650; and in 1918 1,295, 141,396. The diminution was due partly to war-losses.
Communications.—The Swedish railway system had in 1910 a length of 13,829 km., and in 1919 of 15,154, whereof 4,418 and 5,496 respectively were State railways. Through the thinly populated inner region of Norrland there runs a State railway line which has been opened for traffic between Östersund and Vilhelmina. A single-line railway along the coast of Norrland has been planned out and begun with aid from the State. During the war the railways were sometimes quite overloaded, so that locomotives could not be repaired to the extent they needed, and lubricants and good coal ran short. The increased costs drove up passenger and goods rates.
During 1909-16 the Trollhätte canal was reconstructed and deepened to four metres. The Sodertalje canal was in 1921 in process of reconstruction and of deepening to five metres. Through the former operation navigation was made possible to the great Lake Venner and thus between Gothenburg (Göteborg) and the Western mining district, and through the latter a good waterway was being created to the harbour of Lake Mälar.
Social Conditions.—Democracy has a strong hold on the Swedish people, owing to the high degree of education reached by the masses and to their inherited respect for the sanctity of law. Familiarized from an early date with self-government, Sweden had begun already in the closing decades of the 19th century to build up a kind of network of nonconformist religious associations, Anglo-Saxon in their character, temperance unions and friendly societies. When, as the outcome of advances in industrialism, the labour movement began to take shape, it was able to utilize these habits of organization and thus secure a position of considerable power comparatively quickly. Now more than 60% of Sweden's wage-earners belong to trade unions; at the beginning of 1921 these had over 400,000 members, of whom 280,000 combined to constitute the so-called “Lands Organisationen,” which may be translated as “The National Organization,” while simultaneously the political side of the labour movement, Social Democracy, became a force of the first order. Swedish Social Democracy has relied more and more on parliamentary methods of reform, thereby awakening opposition on the part of the labour extremists, with the result that in 1917 a new Socialist party of the left came into existence, formed for the most part of young men, a large number of whom were strongly influenced by Russian Bolshevism. In the spring of 1921 these latter formed a Communistic party connected with the Third International in Moscow. The bulk of Swedish workmen, however, hold aloof from revolutionary tendencies, thanks to the great extension which has been attained by coöperation. While workmen constitute a typical class party, another class party formed by the association of farmers and countryfolk, under the title of the “Böndeförbund,” dated its origin from 1917.
In 1913 a law was passed instituting compulsory old-age and disablement insurance for the entire population. In 1916 a similar accident insurance law was passed. The law passed in 1919 for an eight-hour day was the most advanced of any in Europe. The national administration includes a special social department, as well as a number of boards for dealing with social questions.
The communes also, especially the large towns, have instituted important social reforms; for instance, by creating public labour exchanges, which have been State-endowed since 1907 and are under State guidance and control. In common with the State, moreover, the communes contributed to the general pensions insurance. The guardianship of the poor used to rest on the primary communes, but, through a new Poor Law, passed in 1918, this burden is now in certain cases transferred to the provincial assemblies (Landsting) and the State.
The first decade of the 20th century was marked by the creation and swift growth of employers' associations (notably that known by the name “Svenska Arbetsgivare Foreningen,” whose members in 1920 employed nearly 300,000 workmen) and also of associations of landowners; and in several great conflicts, as, for instance, in a five-weeks' general strike in the summer of 1909, in which 300,000 workmen took part, the victory fell to the employers. For a long time the State's only action in the matter remained the passing of a law in 1906 for the intervention of a Conciliation Court in labour disputes. By reason of the high standing, however, of the trade-union organizations, and as the result of frequent collective agreements on both sides, certain conventional methods of treaty came into vogue in the field of labour disputes. In 1920 the Riksdag passed a law instituting a central State conciliation and arbitration court, as well as local courts of the same kind, to pronounce judgment in labour disputes on the basis of their collective agreements.
The Liquor Question.—For close on a century past the alcohol question in Sweden has been a subject for the most serious consideration and for constant measures of reform. The unhappy results of the excessive consumption of gin at the beginning of the 19th century called forth an energetic temperance movement, led by a clergyman named Peter Wieselgren (1800-1877), a “domprost,” or dean, of the Lutheran Church; and in 1855 a law was passed which abolished the right to manufacture gin for home consumption and which granted concessions to companies, with no financial interest in the traffic, to sell alcoholic drinks under public control. This “Gothenburg System,” as it was designated, brought about considerable improvements in many respects, and the great temperance societies, with a total membership of 450,000, have worked in the same direction. It was, however, only by the new law regarding the sale of liquor which was passed in 1917, and which came into force in 1919, that the underlying principle (“disinterested management”) of the Gothenburg System was consistently put into general practice. By this law the selling to individuals of drinks containing more than 3.6% of alcohol was confined exclusively to the so-called “systembolag” (“system company”), with about 150 branches, over the management of which the State authorities have decisive control and which pays over all its profits to the State Treasury except for 5% interest on the capital invested. The controlling of this “system company” is entrusted to a central institution known as “Kontrollstyrelsen.” All persons who wish to purchase such liquors for home consumption are registered and receive a pass-book; the total amount of liquor allowed to them being limited to a maximum of four litres a month. The abuse of alcohol is attended by further restrictions or by the absolute withdrawal of the right to purchase. The amount of liquor which may be sold to a customer in a restaurant is also strictly limited and confined to meal-times. This system of liquor-dealing, which was set on foot in Stockholm in 1913 and organized by Dr. Ivan Bratt (coming to be known as the Bratt system), was supplemented by a special measure regarding the treatment of alcoholists. The system had remarkable results, proportionate in large degree to the activity of the leading members of the various companies. The consumption of spirits decreased in many places, for instance in Stockholm, by nearly 50%. The number of cases of drunkenness, which was formerly somewhat high, was reduced throughout the country—in Stockholm and in
certain other places by 60%—and so was the number of persons suffering from alcoholism. Much opposition from the side of those who regard the restrictions introduced as altogether excessive was brought to bear against the system; on the other hand, a tendency arose among the temperance associations to believe that total prohibition was the only way towards the solution of the alcohol problem. Smuggling and illegal manufacture of spirits developed to a disquieting degree in the years 1917-8. There were signs, however, in 1921 of a return to a better state of things.
Finance.—In 1910 the state budget amounted to 265,200,000 kr., in 1915 to 415,400,000, in 1920 to 929,400,000, and in 1921 to 1,131,100,000. For 1920 and 1921 the so-called “tilläggsstater,” i.e. supplementary military budgets, are included. The tax revenue in 1921 amounted to 579,200,000 kronor. The consolidated national debt amounted at the end of 1920 to 1,280,600,000 kr.; in 1910 it had been 543,400,000 kronor.
Apart from the national bank, the Riksbank, which alone issues bank-notes, there were in 1910 17 private and 63 joint-stock banks, which in 1920 had decreased to 11 and 30 by amalgamations. Their total paid-up capital and reserve funds amounted in 1910 to 562,600,000 kr. and in 1920 to 1,084,000,000 kronor. At the end of 1920 the Riksbank balanced its revenue and expenditure at 1,017,500,000 kr. and the other banks' balance stood at 7,662,300,000 kronor. The leading private bank is Stockholme Enskilda Bank; the largest joint-stock banks are Skandinaviska Kreditaktiebolaget, Svenska Handelsbanken (formerly Stockholms Handelsbank) and Aktisbolaget Göteborgsbanken.
The circulation of paper money increased from 206,500,000 kr. in 1910 to 759,900,000 kr. in 1920. During the war years the Riksbank was relieved from its liability to meet notes with gold, and also to receive gold in ingots (see Exchanges, Foreign).
The Swedish savings banks in 1910 numbered 477; their deposits amounted to 1,870,800,000 kr. and their capital to 107,100,000 kronor. The post-office savings bank, a State institution, had deposits amounting to 84,400,000 kr. at the end of 1920.
Constitution.—The Swedish Parliament, the “Riksdag,” consists of two elected Chambers, the First Chamber being composed of communal representatives. A constitutional change of a radical kind took place in 1907 and was confirmed by the Riksdag of 1909. The communal suffrage was on a scale proportionate to income, the graduation was now limited so that no person could have more than 40 votes, the bulk of the middle classes thus acquiring a preponderance. Absent voters could delegate their voting rights to others. Women had the communal suffrage in proportion to the degree in which they themselves were liable to taxation. Proportional representation was introduced in the case of both Chambers. Members of the First Chamber, in common with those of the Second, were paid. The suffrage in the case of the Second Chamber became universal and remained, as before, equal for all.
By Riksdag resolutions in 1918, 1919 and 1921 the constitution was further developed in a markedly democratic direction. Under these reforms the First Chamber consists of 150 members, elected by proportional representation by the provincial assemblies, i.e. either by “Landstingen” or by specially formed bodies of electors, chosen also by proportional representation by those possessing the communal suffrage. The communal suffrage is universal and equal; it is no longer graduated and it is personal. When it was graduated in proportion to income, business companies possessed the communal suffrage. Anyone who fails to pay his taxes for three successive years forfeits his right to vote. Women have the same voting rights as men. The age at which the voting right is acquired is 23, but the age is 27 for the right to vote for the members of the provincial assemblies which elect the First Chamber. The right to vote by proxy is abolished, but a husband may deliver a wife's vote in a closed envelope, or a wife a husband's. Similarly, in the case of both the communal elections and the elections to the Second Chamber, soldiers on active service, absent seamen and fishermen, and employees of railways, ports, customs and pilot services may send in their votes by post.
The number of the voters in the communes has been more than doubled. After the reform the communes' lists of voters contained nearly 3,300,000 names, i.e. more than 56% of the pop., and of these about 1,600,000 were men and 1,700,000 women. In March and April 1919 took place the new communal assembly elections: in two “Landsting” out of 25, and in 20 towns out of 107 (among them Stockholm), the Social Democrats and Socialists of the Left together won absolute majorities. In ten “Landsting” and 38 towns the Social Democrats were the strongest party. The election periods are eight years for the members of the First Chamber, one-eighth of whose number are elected each year; and four years for the Second Chamber's 230 members, who are all elected at one time. Women as well as men are eligible as members of both Chambers. The age at which a person becomes eligible, for the First Chamber is 35, for the second 23. To be eligible for the First Chamber a person must have a certain specified income or property. If a member can no longer perform his duties, his place is taken by a substitute elected at the same time as himself. The Riksdag is called together every year on Jan. 10 for its ordinary meeting.
In 1921 the Riksdag passed an Act to provide that a consultative referendum shall be had recourse to when the Government and the Riksdag think it desirable to take the opinion of the people direct by plebiscite on some important question before its decision by the Riksdag. The proposal decided on must be submitted once again after a new Second Chamber election, before it becomes binding. Another constitutional change was involved in the creation of a foreign affairs committee, which the Riksdag shall elect every year, and with which the Government shall take counsel regarding foreign affairs. The Riksdag's right to share in decisions regarding agreements with foreign countries has been extended. Yet another constitutional novelty is the right given to women to hold office under the State where no special hindrance lies in the way.
History.—On the death of King Oscar on Dec. 8 1907 he was succeeded by his eldest son Gustav V. Rear-Adml. Arvid Lindman had been at the head of the Government since May 1906, with Erik Trolle, former Swedish minister at Berlin, as Minister of Foreign Affairs; Carl Swartz, a manufacturer, as Minister of Finance; Maj.-Gen. Lars Tingsten as chief of the Department of National Defences, and Alfred Petersson i Påboda, a landowner, as Minister of Agriculture. In 1907 this Ministry had carried a measure of constitutional reform, embodying universal suffrage in regard to the Second Chamber and proportional representation in regard to both Chambers; and this measure, in accordance with statute, was confirmed by the Riksdag of 1909 after the election of members of the Second Chamber in the autumn of 1908. Owing to a divergence of opinion within the Ministry upon an important point bearing upon the extent of the Riksdag's powers, Trolle, Petersson and one other minister resigned in 1909. The new Foreign Minister was Count Arvid Taube, who had succeeded Trolle as representative of Sweden at Berlin. Some time afterwards Maj.-Gen. Tingsten also resigned. Moderate Conservatism was the note of this Ministry. The ministerialist party in the Riksdag had a majority in the First Chamber and a minority in the Second.
The National Defence Question.—At this period the problem of national defence was in the forefront of Swedish politics, inasmuch as the foreign affairs of the country were in a condition calculated to arouse anxiety. The union with Norway had been dissolved in 1905 and Sweden now stood alone in respect to foreign politics. Finland, which in 1809 had been taken from Sweden and united to Russia, had been having its autonomy more and more reduced, and Russia's foreign policy seemed to show a forward tendency westwards. A great variety of new military measures in Finland seemed to point to something more than a desire on the part of the Russian Government to prevent a German invasion of Southern Finland in the event of a Russo-German war. Right up to the north of the Gulf of Bothnia a network of railways was being spread out for military purposes, and new strategic lines were constructed of a kind necessitated neither for purposes of defence against Germany nor for purposes of trade. Barracks sprang up at the railway junctions. In Sweden Russian spies were ubiquitous, and a Russian military attaché had to be recalled on the ground of having pushed inquisitiveness beyond all limits. A handbook was produced for the use of the Russian military service containing information about the conditions of life in Sweden, and with Swedish maps in it, as well as a short vocabulary of military terms in Russian and Swedish. Swedes had an uncomfortable feeling that the attention of Russia was being directed altogether too closely upon their inadequately defended country.
A careful enquiry into the question of national defence had been undertaken in 1907. The Liberal members of the committee of investigation which was appointed were dissatisfied with its estimate of the defence expenditure required, and signified their attitude by withdrawing from it in 1910. This militated somewhat against the efforts of the committee, and it proved to be impossible, as had been intended, to submit a new scheme of national defences to the Riksdag of 1911. Instead of this, the Government brought forward a proposal for a new naval programme, and, in the face of opposition from the Liberals and Social Democrats, carried a bill, as a first step, for the construction of a powerful new battle cruiser.
Liberals in Office.—In Sept. 1911 the general election for the Second Chamber of the Riksdag, under the reformed methods which had almost doubled the electorate, resulted in increasing the strength of the parties of the Left. The Liberals elected numbered 101, the members of the Right numbering 65 and the Social Democrats 64. Admiral Lindman's Ministry resigned, and in Oct. the King entrusted Karl Staaff, who had been prime minister in 1905-6, with the task of forming a new Government. This Ministry remained in office until Feb. 1914. Count Albert Ehrensvard, previously Swedish minister at Washington, became Minister of Foreign Affairs, and both of the departments of national defence were placed under civilians, in accordance with the Liberal view that there should be greater civil control. Alfred Petersson, who had gone over to the Liberals, became once more Minister of Agriculture. The question of national defence again came up for treatment, but upon different lines and almost exclusively at the hands of the members of the Left. It had not been possible to proceed further with the projected new ironclad than the making out of the designs. The Government proposed to the Riksdag of 1912 that the project should be abandoned and the Riksdag agreed. This cancelling of a previous decision of the Riksdag, on account of the new elections having altered the composition of the Second Chamber, evoked strong dissatisfaction. Within a brief space of time a sum of 17,000,000 kr. was raised by voluntary subscription for the building of the ship, and since the Government was unable to decline to use this fund the keel was laid down on Dec. 1. The whole country was now stirred up, and further sums were subscribed in the same way to furnish machine-guns for the Landsturm and to provide aircraft. Towards the end of 1913 things had come to such a point that the prime minister was able in the course of a speech to advance arguments in favour of a forthcoming proposal for a winter training for the army, the establishment of reserve forces, the levying of a higher war-tax on the more well-to-do, the amelioration of the laws governing war, etc. But in view of the election promises to which the Liberal leaders had committed themselves during the contest of 1911 this programme was not to be submitted all at once; its most important item alone, that of the training of the infantry, would in the first place be submitted by itself on the occasion of the Second Chamber elections of 1914 before being proposed to the Riksdag. The public discussion of the matter became very lively, and although no thoroughgoing defence programme was in fact submitted to the Riksdag of 1914, violent feelings were aroused and expressed.
At last even the small farmers and peasantry, usually anything but enthusiasts for defence measures owing to the heavy personal taxation entailed, were drawn into the movement. On Feb. 6 1914 there was a great meeting in Stockholm of more than 30,000 representatives of this class from all parts of the country, assembled for the purpose of bringing home to King Gustav their anxiety at not seeing the question handled promptly and in its entirety. They were received by the King in the great courtyard of the Royal Palace, and their spokesman declared that the Swedish people were willing to bear the burden of whatever measures of defence were necessitated by the gravity of the time. The King answered that he, too, was of opinion that the problem called for treatment in its entirety and without delay.
This demonstration had important consequences at once. The Ministry had had no previous intimation of what the King was going to say, and matters were brought to a head by the resignation of Staaff and his colleagues. On Feb. 17 a new Ministry was formed, with Hjalmar Hammarskjiöld as its head.
Policy of Reform.—In connexion with foreign affairs during this period it may be added that, by arbitration at The Hague, the sea boundary between Sweden and Norway was fixed in accordance with Sweden's claim, and Sweden became a party to the North Sea and Baltic Agreement of 1908. By dint of close coöperation between the Government and the Riksdag a large number of important reforms were instituted. Among those carried through during Adml. Lindman's administration may be mentioned (in addition to the franchise measures above noted) the creation of a supreme administrative Court of Justice (Regerings rätten), together with a legal council, formed of some members of the Supreme Court, as advisers to the Government in legislative matters. Civil marriages were made permissible for all members of the State church. New laws were introduced as to farmers' tenancies and the leasing and letting of houses, flats, etc., and the speculative operations of the big companies dealing in land in Norrland were restricted and placed under control. A new company law was passed by the Riksdag and also a new banking law. A progressive income and property tax, based on the taxpayer's own statements as to both, was also introduced, together with a progressive inheritance tax. Customhouse duties were remodelled and the sugar-tax modified. An arrangement was come to with the Grängesberg Co. in regard to its iron-ore business in Lapland, by which the complicated question of proprietorial rights was so settled that the State joined in as part owner, receiving preference shares to the value of 40,000,000 kr., a specified royalty on the proceeds of the mining at Gellivara and Kirunavara and the right of redemption after a specified period. Large grants were made to the electric power stations at Trollhättan and Älvkarleby in central Sweden, as well as to that at Porjus in an uninhabited region of Lapland, and a widening of the Trollhätte canal was put in hand. A new law regarding insurance against illness was passed. Night work in certain occupations was forbidden for women. Improvements were made in higher technical education. In 1909 a sharp conflict arose between employers and workmen, and the latter organized a general strike in which nearly 300,000 took part. There were, however, no disturbances, thanks both to the discipline maintained and to the wise measures adopted by the Government. Social life was not brought to a standstill, as the workmen expected, and after a lapse of two months the conflict was brought to an end.
While the reforms introduced by Adml. Lindman's Ministry lay mainly in the sphere of economics and industry, the Staaff Ministry devoted its energies more especially towards social questions. A new social department was instituted, as a centre for the State's activities in this direction. The law bearing on the protection of workmen was extended, and various forms of workmen's unions were placed under control. A law was passed regulating the methods of dealing with alcoholists. The profits of the sale of spirits by the communes were allocated to the State, compensation being allowed therefor, the object of this being to free the communes from all economic interest in the liquor trade. After long preliminary planning, an illness and old-age pensions insurance law was passed, enacting obligatory insurance, with payments in three degrees, for all, except pensioners of the State, between the ages of 16 and 66, the pensions to be given in case of illness, or on the completion of the 67th year.
The War Years, 1914-8.—In the ministry which Herr Hammarskjiöld formed in Feb. 1914 Herr K. A. Wallenberg, the banker, was Minister of Foreign Affairs; Herr Dan Broström, shipowner, Minister for Naval Defence, and Herr Oscar von Sydow was Minister of the Interior. The Second Chamber was dissolved, and after a very sharp contest the advocates of active defence measures were returned in increased numbers, but without having secured a majority, polling 86 seats out of 230, while the Liberals numbered 71 and the Social Democrats 73.
The Riksdag met again in May, and the outbreak of the war brought with it a solution of difficulties, inasmuch as all parties recognized that there must be no disputing as to details of defence at a moment when the whole surrounding world was aflame. Universal military service had already been introduced, but now the training time for infantry was increased to 340 days, of which 250 were to be spent in recruit classes beginning in the autumn and continuing throughout the winter, followed by the usual training courses during three years. In order to secure non-commissioned officers of the right kind it was judged well to impose a longer training time, extending to 485 days, on students and other young men of similar standing, while for cavalry and artillery the period was fixed at 365 days. Large sums were allotted for the provision of war materials and for the strengthening of the coast defences. A programme was drawn up for adding new vessels to the fleet. Simultaneously with these steps towards increasing the defences of the country, measures were introduced for modernizing the existing code of punishments for military offences, this being accompanied by the creation of a special official, to be appointed by the Riksdag, whose duty it would be to inquire into all allegations regarding abuse of power or other derelictions on the part of superior officers in the army or navy—an appointment designed to act as a protection for soldiers and sailors against injustice.
An official declaration of neutrality was published without delay, and all the ministries holding office during the war, with the Riksdag's expressed approval, aimed at remaining absolutely neutral. Neutrality involved the duty of preventing any of the belligerent Powers from using Swedish territory as a basis for operations against enemies. Throughout the entire war the Swedish fleet remained on guard along the coasts of the country and on several occasions it had to take active measures. During the summer of 1916 there were many violations of neutrality in Swedish waters. In order to elude the observation of foreign battleships, trading vessels, flying the flags of belligerent countries, or carrying dangerous freights, sought to get through a channel called Kogrundsrännan within Swedish waters in Öresund, and apparently frequent attempts were to be expected on the side of belligerent countries at both ends of this channel to seize enemy vessels even at the risk of this occurring within Swedish waters. This channel was closed therefore against all but certain known Swedish vessels. The Allied Powers considered this action incorrect and protested, but the channel remained closed until Dec. 1918. A number of trading vessels belonging to the Allied Powers, which, owing to the closing of the channel, were confined in the Baltic, were, however, allowed egress on the condition that the Swedish population received a certain measure of necessary supplies from the west.
The stagnation produced by the outbreak of the war as regards foreign trade and shipping did not last long. Sweden became for a time, like Holland and Italy, an intermediary in the American trade with Germany, quite in accordance with international law as it stood before the war. When, however, the Allies proceeded to employ more and more stringently their weapon of blockade against the Central Powers this business as intermediary came quickly to a stop. The intensifying of the war at sea brought with it great obstacles in the way of neutral commerce. Its most painful feature was the sinking of neutral vessels by the German submarines, with its accompanying loss of lives. The mines which were spread about by other groups of belligerents also claimed many victims. The proceedings of the submarines called forth much indignation, and protests were made, but without much effect. The measures of the Allies were of a different order, but their control over shipping presently became so oppressive that protests against this also were made, the weightiest protest coming from the three northern kingdoms acting together. Sweden's geographical position and the commercial conditions which existed before the war necessitated the maintaining of relations with both sides. Trade transactions with Germany were in 1913 somewhat in excess of those with Great Britain, but Great Britain was the larger purchaser of Swedish products. During the war one great displacement in trade resulted from the diminution of Sweden's imports of coal from Great Britain and the consequent necessity of making good this diminution by imports from Germany.
Despite all the difficulties to be encountered it proved possible to maintain importation into Sweden from the west of raw materials, grain and other necessaries down to well on in 1916, but from this time onwards there was an increasing scarcity. When the Allies intensified their blockade, and Sweden could not break off trade relations with Germany, the blockade-line was drawn not between Sweden and the Central Powers but west of Sweden and the other Scandinavian countries. All goods which had to pass the blockade-line in the North Sea on the way to or from Sweden were subjected to sharp control. As regards goods from Sweden certificates of origin and ownership had to be furnished, to make sure that they were not in reality disguised exports from Germany, while in the case of goods for Sweden guarantees were required to the effect that they would not be forwarded to Germany. Suspected goods were unloaded in British seaports. Black lists caused serious losses to conscientious tradesmen as well as to others. Both groups of belligerents set on foot elaborate systems of trade espionage in neutral countries. In order to regulate the undertakings which the belligerents demanded from merchants, manufacturers and shipowners, the so-called War Trade Law was passed in 1916 to give legal value to officially recognized undertakings to foreign Powers, while at the same time it was laid down that undertakings not thus recognized lacked all legal value. A special trades commission was created to investigate all questions connected with this matter. The international goods exchange came to be worked like an enormous system of compensation, controlled by State officials by means of agreement. Every neutral country had to offer some equivalent in return for its imports. During the first years of the war it was to the interest of the Allied Powers that goods should go through Sweden to Russia. The great consignments caused inconvenience to the Swedish railways, but they made things easier for Sweden in the matter of imports.
Negotiations were set on foot for a commercial agreement between Sweden and Great Britain and her Allies, but they led to no result during the time of Herr Hammarskjiöld's Ministry, and this fact was turned to account against him in the political conflict which went on over the internal affairs of the country. After this Ministry resigned on Mar. 1 1917, and Herr Carl Swartz formed a new Government, the Foreign Minister, Adml. Lindman, brought about a temporary agreement by which the Swedish people were allowed the right to import nearly 92,000 tons of grain and about 40,000 tons of other goods, on the condition that certain vessels belonging to the Allies then confined in the Baltic should be allowed egress through the cloned channel of Kogrund.
After Herr Eden's Ministry succeeded to that of Herr Swartz in the autumn new discussions were entered upon in regard to imports. In Feb. 1918 a so-called modus vivendi agreement was come to, enabling Sweden to import about 75,000 tons of maize, feeding-stuffs, raw phosphate, mineral oils and coffee, and in June a more comprehensive agreement was reached, in accordance with which it was possible to import larger quantities of grain, feeding-stuffs coal, oils, india-rubber, cotton, wool, hides, etc. In this connexion Sweden placed at the disposal of the Allies a portion of her commercial fleet. In addition, Sweden guaranteed to the Allies a certain share in her iron-ore exports, and also undertook to allow a certain amount of credit for goods bought in Sweden. In this way Sweden's most essential import was made sure of until the end of the war. In consequence of the universal scarcity the three Scandinavian countries came to an agreement as to the mutual exchange of commodities.
The hard conditions which prevailed during the war brought Sweden and Norway closer together again. After the severance between Sweden and Norway in 1905, and the election of a Danish prince as King of Norway, the relations between the Scandinavian countries had been somewhat cold. King Gustav, who at one time had been the Norwegian Crown Prince, himself took the initiative, and in Dec. 1914 invited the Norwegian and Danish monarchs to a meeting at Malmö, at which the affairs of the three countries as affected by the war came under discussion. Other such consultations followed, for instance at Christiania in Nov. 1917, and the prime ministers and foreign ministers of the three kingdoms also came together, while on some occasions of importance there were meetings at which special delegates were present.
In Jan. 1918 Sweden gave her recognition to the new Finnish State. When, shortly afterwards, the Red outbreak occurred in Finland, there was a strong movement in favour of Sweden's joining in on the side of the newly formed Finnish Government, but when the Russian troops began to take part in the struggle on the side of the Reds, Russia continuing to be a belligerent Power, the Government and the Riksdag agreed that it would not be wise to intervene. Swedish volunteers fought on the side of the Whites, and a couple of Swedish ambulances were sent over. Swedish refugees were brought back from Southern Finland. While the civil war in Finland was still in progress a petition came from the inhabitants of the Åland Is. for Swedish protection against aggression on the part of Russian troops which were stationed there. Troops were sent from Sweden to maintain order on the islands, and they achieved their purpose. When Germany, however, came to the support of the Whites and landed forces on the Åland Is., the Swedish troops were withdrawn.
Economic Measures.—At the very beginning of the war period the Swedish Government carried through several special administrative measures. The exportation of a number of commodities of great importance was prohibited, partly in order that they might be kept for home consumption, partly in order that they might control the exportation by export licences. This system was gradually developed until at last the export of all important goods was prohibited. An Industrial Commission and an Unemployment Commission were set up to decide on the measures which should be taken to maintain industrial work and to mitigate the serious condition of unemployment which threatened. A Food Commission was appointed to study the development of the market, and a National War Insurance Commission was charged with the task of dealing with insurances against loss of life and property through the war on the seas, as the private insurance companies were unable to undertake all the risks. The Riksdag's legislative powers were also called into play. A financial Moratorium was instituted at an early date. The Riksbank's obligation to meet its own notes with gold was suspended, and new laws were introduced giving the Government new powers, which were employed when necessary, to effect the compulsory purchase of goods from individuals and to fix maximum prices on commodities. Swedish vessels could not be sold to other countries without the Government's sanction, nor could they carry freight from one foreign country to another. All this accumulation of legal measures, which presently had added to it the law against unreasonable increases in rent, the law against “profiteering” and several others, did not come about at once but grew out of the needs which were created by the conditions of the war period. New organs for war-time administration were formed in the Trade Commission (June 1915) and the Food Control Commission (autumn 1916), the former of which had to apply the War Trade Laws and to supervise exports and imports, while the latter, as the successor of an earlier Food Commission, took in hand the food rationing of the country.
Rationing.—Before the war Sweden produced about four-sevenths of the cereals which she required; the rest had to be imported. On the other hand, she exported live cattle, pork and butter, the production of which was made possible by the importation of feeding-stuffs. The fodder harvest of 1914 was so scanty that it necessitated a reduction of live stock. The importation of cereals was undertaken by the State through the agency of the Food Commission. When there began to be a scarcity in some of the animal foods, and prices suddenly rose, recourse was had to the fixing of maximum prices for the first time in Nov. 1915. In the course of the year also the exportation of animal foods was restricted and producers were obliged, in return for the granting of export licences, to allot a certain proportion of their goods (“compensation goods” so-called) to the State for sale by the communal authorities at low prices to those who were less well-to-do. In the autumn of 1916 the scarcity of animal foods became so serious that rationing had to be decided on, and, even so, anxiety was occasionally felt lest the supplies should fail. The situation was aggravated later by the bad harvest of 1917. In Oct. 1916 it was decided that nobody should obtain sugar without presenting a sugar-card. These sugar-cards gave a person the right to purchase 13 kgm. of sugar a year, with an additional amount for preserving purposes to each family. In Jan. 1917 bread-cards were introduced. Farmers were allowed to retain a certain quantity of corn but had to sell all the surplus to the State. All such stores, whether bought by the State or imported, were rationed out to the rest of the population, who were given bread-cards providing at first allowances of 250 grammes a day to each person, later only 200 grammes, but again 250 in Nov. 1918. Persons engaged in particularly arduous work were allowed extra rations. The bread-cards were used also on journeys. The carrying out of this work of rationing needed very thorough supervision, and this evoked dissatisfaction and annoyance, especially among the farmers. The system was changed in the food control year of 1918-9, each farmer being called upon to supply a certain specified quantity of corn and being allowed to do more or less as he pleased with what he had left. Rationing ceased at the end of Aug. 1919.
The supply of bread was scantier than in normal times, and it had to be supplemented with other food-stuffs, especially potatoes. The consumption of all these rose enormously and a great scarcity began to be felt, most severely in the late winter and in the spring of the year 1917 and 1918. People had to have recourse to the eating of turnips. In the spring of 1917 there were food riots in various localities. In 1918 the danger of famine became worse, but calm prevailed. In the autumn of that year potatoes also had to be rationed, but this expedient did not work well. In densely inhabited localities milk was so rationed that the needs in the first place of small children, then of pauper children and the old and the sick were supplied. The exportation of meat, including bacon and pork, ceased altogether in the first half of 1917. The scarcity of fodder became at times so intense that moss and heather and even pine-needles had to be employed as substitutes in the cow-sheds. The selling of bacon and pork was placed under strict control, but only with the result that both disappeared almost altogether from the open market. The rationing of butchers' meat was considered, but it was not thought safe to take this step. Among other things rationed was coffee. The scarcity of food generally caused the Government to do what it could to intensify production by the putting of new land into cultivation, etc.
The Fuel Question.—The fuel question was beset with difficulties although Sweden is so rich in wood. Before the war about 5,000,000 tons of coal and coke were imported, for the most part from England. When, during the war, the importation from England ceased, and Germany was unable to supply as much as England used to do, the country was faced by a very serious scarcity of fuel. This was at the beginning of 1917. The regulation of the business of the wood supply was then entrusted to the Fuel Commission, which put wood-cutting operations in hand on an enormous scale. In Nov. 1917 56,000 workmen were in employment at wood-cutting. Down to May 1918, when the work ceased for the most part, 19,400,000 cub. metres of wood had been cut. Forest owners were allowed to make provision for their own needs. Other households had certain specified quantities allotted to them, according to the number of persons in each, special wood-cards being provided and the price of the wood being fixed at figures which did not quite cover the cost. Those persons who wished to buy more could do so but at higher figures. Factories and railways had to pay higher prices. The result was that fuel was always available in sufficient quantities, but that the wood supply involved a loss to the State of over 100,000,000 kronor.
Industry during the War.—The importation difficulties reacted also upon industries. There was a great scarcity of lubricants. This was partly met by the use of substitutes. The textiles, rubber and leather industries, as well as several branches of the chemical industry, suffered from the lack of raw materials. The scarcity of copper and certain other metals and metal alloys had injurious results on the working of electrical machinery and generally throughout the whole sphere of mechanical engineering, but, on the whole, Swedish industries were kept going under favourable conditions. To deal with the importation of raw materials, which was controlled by the Allies, import associations were formed by the manufacturers who needed the raw materials in question. These associations furnished the guarantees required by the Allies and imposed corresponding guarantees on the delivery of the small quantities thus dealt out. The associations were controlled by the Trade and Industry Commissions. In cases where the supply of certain goods was exceptionally small the State laid claim to the whole, and a system of rationing was sometimes carried out by Raw Material Associations, formed by the manufacturers and craftsmen who were in need of them. In 1916 steps had to be taken in regard to regulations for the sale of lubricants, iron pyrites, German iron, and hides, skins and printing paper. The first article to be appropriated by the State was linseed oil, next came hemp and india-rubber. In 1917 hides and skins were appropriated, as well as lubricants, leather shoe-soles, several metals, rails, paraffin, etc. Tickets for the purchasing of benzine for motor-cars and motor-boats were provided through the agency of the Industry Commission. All fat from the bones of mammals and all offal, etc., were turned to scientific or technical account. The use of carbide lamps increased swiftly, as carbide is a Swedish product. The Swedish iron-works and factories were constrained to supply iron goods at reduced prices to cultivators of the soil. In April 1918 rationing of wool began, as well as of cotton yarn, woollen or cotton stockings and woollen or cotton textiles and underclothing of these materials. Purchasing cards were supplied only where the need of them was genuine and “controlled.” In Nov. 1918 the rationing ceased.
There was actually no very serious unemployment during the war. A great number of men who lost their work in the building and textile industries were employed in wood-cutting, clearance work in the forests, executing orders for supplies of stone for the communes, etc.
High Cost of Living.—High prices were the combined result of scarcity and the inflation of paper money. The prices of goods rose higher than in Great Britain, for example. Official investigations show that if a family which had an income of 2,000 kr. in 1914 sought to keep up the same kind of living its expenditure would have been increased to something over 3,000 kr. a year according to the prices which prevailed in May 1917, and to over 4,850 kr. according to those which prevailed in Oct. 1918. Wages had to be raised considerably. The State granted war bonuses which amounted in all to a sum total of 100,000,000 kr. a year. The State and the communes expended large sums also in subsidies. From Dec. 1916 down to the middle of 1920 the sum of 112,500,000 kr. was used for lowering the prices of food, clothes and fuel and, in some exceptional cases, rent, for the poorer classes. Of this amount the State provided 77,000,000 kr. During the first half of 1918 389,000 families, or 1,344,000 persons, benefited by purchasing goods at these lowered prices. The building industry was at a standstill almost entirely. The State took steps to help it but without much success.
Changes of Government.—At the beginning of the war all the burning questions of internal politics were put on one side, and all efforts were concentrated on solving the problems presented by the new condition of affairs. In the autumn of 1914 the new elections for the Second Chamber took place. The party of the Right remained unchanged in numbers, 86, the Liberals numbered 57 and the Social Democrats 87. Dissatisfaction with Herr Hammarskjiöld's Ministry increased gradually, the Government—as always happens—being held to blame for the hardships of the times. The Opposition contended that the ministers showed a lack of diplomacy in their negotiations with Great Britain and that they had not paid due regard to the opinions of the Riksdag—certainly the coöperation between the Government and the Riksdag was not what it might have been. In March 1917 the Ministry resigned. In an address with 600,000 signatures Herr Hammarskjiöld and his colleagues were urged to continue in office, but they persisted in their desire to withdraw. Herr Carl Swartz, who previously had been Financial Minister, formed the new Government, which was Moderate Conservative in character.
The Swartz Ministry, in which Adml. Arvid Lindman was again Foreign Minister, lasted only into the autumn. From the start it had borne the stamp of a stop-gap Ministry, inasmuch as the new elections were to be held in September. These went against the Right because, among other reasons, the prevailing hardships and the various measures of State interference were laid to their blame. The Right polled 59, the Liberals 62, the Social Democrats 86, while two new parties, the “Böndeförbund”—a league of farmers and countryfolk—and the Socialists of the Left came in with 12 and 11 respectively. The Ministry resigned and the King tried to arrange for a Coalition Government representing all parties. This effort proving unsuccessful, the Liberal leader, Prof. Nils Eden, undertook the task of forming a Liberal-Social-Democratic Government. The prime minister himself, the Foreign Secretary, Herr J. Hellner, and five other members of the Government were Liberals; Herr Hjalmar Branting, the leader of the Social-Democratic party, was for a short time Finance Minister; Baron Erik Palmstierna, a former naval officer and a Social-Democratic member of the Riksdag, was Minister of Marine; there were two other Social-Democratic members of the Government, which adopted a Liberal-Radical programme.
After the War.—The Riksdag of 1918 passed, among their legislation, a new Poor Law and a new Education Law, reflecting the increased influence of the wage-earners. The wind of reform blew more and more strongly in the autumn. An extraordinary meeting of the Riksdag was called and very noteworthy decisions were come to, which were ratified by the Riksdags of 1919 and 1921, involving (see under Constitution, above) an immense democratizing of the administration. The consequences for the First Chamber showed themselves at once, when the Government dissolved it in the autumn of 1919 and the new election took place. The chamber had been made up of 86 Conservatives, 43 Liberals, 19 Social Democrats and two Socialists of the Left. This was now altered to 38 Conservatives, 40 Liberals, 19 members of the “Böndeförbund,” 49 Social Democrats and four Socialists of the Left. The greatest novelty lay in the women's vote and in their eligibility for both chambers of the Riksdag.
After the termination of the war in Nov. 1918 the emergency measures were almost entirely abandoned. The regulation of the bacon-and-pork-selling business ceased in Jan. 1919 and the rationing of potatoes in May. In Aug. bread-cards disappeared and the rationing of sugar also stopped on Aug. 1. Most of the industrial regulations came to an end during the first quarter of 1919. The Fuel Commission administration of the rationing of fuel terminated on March 1 of the same year. With the close of May the War Insurance Commission ceased its operation. The Riksdags of 1920 and 1921 renewed in modified form some of the emergency laws, but at the end of the first half of 1920 all that remained of the various Commissions were some small committees of liquidation.
When the League of Nations was still in process of formation the Governments of Sweden, Denmark and Norway appointed committees for the purpose of considering together their attitude towards it. The Swedish Government laid its proposal to join the League before the Riksdag of 1920. Opinions were divided: the decision was given in favour of accession by 86 votes against 47 in the First Chamber and by 152 against 67 in the Second. The Riksdag incorporated in this decision an expression of approval of the basic principles of the League, but formulated also its conviction that the Government should avail itself of every opportunity for urging that the States not invited at first to join the League should be incorporated in it as soon as possible; that a more satisfactory arrangement should be come to for the representation in it of the smaller States; that more definite rules should be framed for the meetings of delegates and for their methods of work; that the standing international tribunal should be constituted as soon as possible, and that its procedure in regard to mediation and arbitration should be more clearly defined and further elaborated; and also that efforts to bring about a universal and effective reduction of armaments should be set on foot without delay and vigorously pursued.
Sweden was represented at the International Labour Conference in Washington in 1919 and at that in Genoa in 1920, as well as at the League of Nations' first meeting at Geneva in 1920, when the Swedish delegates acted on the lines indicated in the Riksdag's utterance. In May 1921 the question between Sweden and Finland as to the sovereignty over the Åland Islands was settled by the League of Nations in favour of Finland (see Åland Islands).
Sweden did not formally recognize the Soviet Government in Russia, but at first a Russian representative was allowed to reside in Sweden to maintain the de facto relations between the two countries. In Jan. 1919 he was obliged to leave (but not until Swedish residents in Russia had been enabled to return home) because of oppressive conduct in Russia towards Swedes and in regard to Swedish property. All trade relations were for a time broken off, but to an enquiry from the Allied Powers as to whether Sweden would take part in a blockade of Russia a reply in the negative was given. In 1920 permission was accorded to a Russian trade delegation to visit Stockholm. From the Russian side large orders for railway engines were placed with Swedish manufacturers, and much Russian gold passed through Sweden, mostly destined for America.
The Eight-Hour Day.—Within the ranks of the Eden Ministry there was from the beginning a fundamental divergence of view between the Liberals and the Social Democrats, but for some time it was possible for them to work together. Moreover, this Ministry was the only one for a long time past which had a genuine majority, though a very heterogeneous one, in the Riksdag. The most important measure introduced in 1919 was for a legalized eight-hour day, but when first proposed it was rejected by the First Chamber. The Government dissolved the Chamber, and after the new elections an extraordinary autumn session was called at which the eight-hour day proposal was accepted. The Right had retained only 38 seats, the Bondeforbund coming back with 19, the Liberals with 41, the Social Democrats with 49, and the Socialists of the Left with three. According to this law, which was to hold good provisionally until the end of 1923, 48 hours in the week constitute work-time in industrial and other businesses in which at least four employees work at an employer's expense, agricultural work and forestry work excepted. As a general rule over-time must not be instituted to a greater degree than 150 hours in the year. A newly founded institution, the Labour Council, decides questions concerned with the carrying out of the law. A number of flaws were soon discernible in the law, and in the Riksdag of 1920 this Council applied to the Government to effect certain improvements. A proposal was laid before the Riksdag of 1921 and was in the main accepted. The modifications left the main principles of the law unchanged. Sweden subsequently declined to ratify the draft of the Washington Convention of the League of Nations on hours of labour, partly because it conflicted with the Swedish measure already passed, and partly because adhesion would be binding for 11 years, while the Swedish law held good provisionally for a shorter period.
The Social-Democratic Ministry.—It was over the communal taxation question that the Eden Ministry went to pieces. This question had for a long period been under discussion, and it was intended to submit some proposal in connexion with it to the Riksdag of 1920. The Social-Democratic members of the Government asked for a definite settlement, while the Liberals wanted only a provisional solution. The end was that the entire Ministry resigned, and that the King invited the Social-Democratic leader, Herr Branting, to form a new Government. In March 1920 he did so. Baron E. Palmstierna, formerly Minister of Marine, became Minister of Foreign Affairs. All the ministers were Social Democrats. The new Government could only count on minorities in both Chambers as a regular Ministerial party. The discussion of the communal taxation question ended in a victory for the Liberal standpoint, a provisional arrangement. In the meantime the Ministry awaited the result of the general elections to the Second Chamber in the autumn of 1920. A comprehensive programme was put forward by means of commissions of inquiry into projects of socialization, industrial democracy, and the control of trusts and other great combinations.
Change of Ministry.—Dissatisfaction with the eight-hour day and with the socialistic projects brought a good many electors over to the party of the Right. The strength of the Social-Democratic party in the Second Chamber went down from 86 to 75, and the number of the Liberals was reduced from 62 to 47, while that of the Right went up from 59 to 70 and of the Böndeförbund from 10 to 29. The Socialists of the Left were reduced from 11 to 7, a result of their sympathies with the Russian Communists. Two members of the Chamber were “independents.” The more than usually complex party conditions led the King to invite Baron Louis de Geer to form a non-political Ministry. Count Herman Wrangel quitted the post of Swedish minister in London, in which he was succeeded by Baron Palmstierna, to become Minister of Foreign Affairs. The new Government began at once to occupy itself seriously with industrial, commercial and financial matters. Among other bills which it put before the Riksdag of 1921 was one for increasing the duty on coffee. On this being rejected Herr Tamm, the Finance Minister, resigned, and the prime minister, too, then resigned. He was succeeded by Herr Oscar von Sydow, former Minister of the Interior.
The Economic Crisis of 1920-1.—During the latter half of 1920 Sweden had entered on a grave economic crisis—her share of the general economic difficulties which prevailed after the war. The period from the dissolution of the union with Norway in 1905 down to 1914 has been characterized as one of great economic development. During and after the war cost of production rose swiftly, not least because the workmen, after the passing of the Eight-Hour Day Act, in most cases obtained higher rates of wages so that they could earn as much as when working longer hours. Compensation had already been allowed them for the increase in prices. As soon as importation possibilities became increased after the war, goods began to be imported to an extravagant degree, so that the country became flooded with them to the detriment of home industries. Finally the Swedish exchange, which stood somewhat higher outside than inside the country, facilitated importation but hindered exportation. When the international crisis came, with its swift fall in prices, it became necessary to lower wages again, but this brought the country up against great difficulties. In April 1921 about 60,000 industrial workmen were unemployed; in June about 90,000.
The Swedish Red Cross.—Some account of the activities of the Swedish Red Cross must have its place in an outline of Swedish history during and after the war. King Gustav's brother, Prince Carl, played a leading role in this connexion, and also the Crown Princess Margaret (daughter of the Duke of Connaught), whose death in 1920 was sincerely mourned. The work of the Swedish Red Cross was directed more particularly to relieving prisoners of war in the various countries, above all in Russia on the one side and Germany and Austria-Hungary on the other. During 1915-8 a great number of invalided prisoners, including 3,617 Germans, 22,123 Austro-Hungarians, 428 Turks and 37,295 Russians, were brought homeward through Sweden by means of the Swedish Red Cross, specially equipped trains travelling between the Swedish-Finnish frontier in the north and Trälleborg in the south. Across Sweden, moreover, there went a stream of parcels by post, in both directions, for prisoners. The Swedish postal service dealt with 12,700,000 parcels of this kind. The Crown Princess was specially interested in collecting books to despatch to the prisoners' camps. Important work was also done in the inspecting of the prisoners' camps in Russia, Germany and Austria-Hungary. Delegates distributed gifts from home among the prisoners: 1,016 railway waggons packed with such gifts passed through Petrograd en route eastwards, and from Russia 1,012 travelled into Germany and 304 into Austria-Hungary. The delegates drew attention to various shortcomings in the German camps and in most cases this resulted in improvements being effected. The conditions in Russia and Siberia were found to be much worse. Delegates' records of what they saw revealed a terrible condition of things in many camps. In some there were 30 deaths a day among the prisoners. Under the guidance of the Swedish delegates new hospitals were established in many places or old hospitals improved, kitchens and baking-rooms being constructed, drains put into order, and large stores of medicines and bandages, etc., being supplied. In Jekaterinburg, for instance, the authorities threw all care for the prisoners entirely on the Swedish delegates within a region of 1,200 sq. miles. Thirty-three hospital buildings were erected in this region, and at some periods a Swedish Red Cross Kitchen established there was able to distribute food to 1,200 men a day. This work was attended with risks. Two delegates were murdered and several died in hospitals for infectious cases. During the Finnish civil war two ambulances were sent to Finland in 1920, and one ambulance was sent to Poland to help in coping with the epidemic there.
The grave privations in many countries after the war due to the scarcity of food aroused deep sympathy in Sweden. Among other steps taken to afford help may be mentioned the welcoming of 20,000 children from Germany and Austria (and in some degree from the Baltic Provinces) to stay in Swedish homes with a view to their regaining health and strength. The homes of both the well-to-do and the poor were thrown open for this. The total amount of money devoted to such acts of helpfulness (including the cost of the children's visits) is estimated at more than 25,000,000 kr., of which the State was responsible for 1,500,000 and the rest was collected by private subscriptions. A detailed report was laid before the International Red Cross Conference in Geneva in 1921.
- (K. H.*)