Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Christian Democrats (Kristdemokraterna) is a political party in Sweden. The party was founded in 1964 but did not enter parliament until 1985 in an electoral cooperation with the Centre Party and on their own accord in 1991. The leader since April 3, 2004 is Göran Hägglund. He succeeded Alf Svensson, who had been the party's leader since 1973. The three most important issues for the party are:

Improving the care for elderly
Freedom of choice for families with children in selecting their childcare
Decreasing regulations on companies, lowering taxes to promote growth and combat unemployment History
The party had its roots in a movement against the Swedish government's decision in 1963 to remove religious education from the elementary school syllabus. The organisation called "Christian Social Responsibility" that would later become the Christian Democratic Unity organised several marches against the decision, one of which became one of the largest in Swedish modern history. Despite the public outcry and over 2.1 million protest signatures, the decision went through. The group which had worked in the campaign felt it was a sign that Swedish politics needed a Christian Democratic Party.
It should be noted the political and social origins of the Swedish Christian Democracy clearly differs from those of the European continental Christian Democratic parties (like in Italy or West Germany). In those countries, Christian Democracy represented the mainstream of the social-conservative political forces and was closely tied to majoritarian religious practice. In, Sweden Christian Democracy surged as minority grouping amongst the center-right forces and was tied to religious minority tendencies in society (the Free Churches).

Reasons for founding the party
In the beginning 1964 Lewi Pethrus, founder of the Swedish Pentecostal movement and chief editor of the Swedish newspaper Dagen, discussed the idea of a Swedish Christian democratic party on the editorial pages of Dagen. He stated that many people had contacted him about the idea, and that the current Swedish political climate was dominated by atheist economic materialism.
Principal Algot Terel hosted a conference in February 7 the same year. The topic of the conference was "Christianity and Politics", and during the conference the idea of starting a Christian Democratic Party was discussed. A committee consisting of Lewi Pethrus and 8 other Free Church leaders was formed.
A large and widespread debate followed this decision to create a commitée. Dagen published an interview with the leader of the Norwegian Christian Democratic Party Kjell Bondevik and there were talks about creating a Christian Democratic Party in Finland as well.
On March 20, 1964 the party was founded as the Christian Democratic Unity (Kristen Demokratisk Samling). At first it was only an organisation, but at a board meeting later that year it was decided the organisation would be revamped into a party and that it would run for the national elections in Sweden. The first roughly 100 members elected Birger Ekstedt to the post of party chairman and Lewi Pethrus to the post of vice chairman.
Then began the intensive work of spreading the party all over the nation and preparing the necessary infrastructure in preparation for the elections. The party grew rapidly, by the end of the year it had 14 500 members.

The founding
The party was sometimes called the "Air and Water" party at a start because of the party's strong emphasis on environmental politics. At that time the Green Party of Sweden did not exist and thus the Christian Democratic Unity had a unique position with its environmentally friendly politics. In the Swedish national elections in 1964 the party gained 1,8%, not enough to get any seats in the riksdag, but the party already gained influence on the municipal level. In the municipal elections of 1966, the party gained 354 seats.
At this time the established major parties of Sweden began discussing new ways of prohibiting minor parties in Sweden from getting into the riksdag. In 1971 the riksdag was reformed, and with it came the D'Hondt method of voting. The threshold was set to 4%, which meant that the political breakthrough was far away for the KDS.
In 1972, the 51 year old Birger Ekstedt died only a few days after having been reelected as the party chairman. An emergency congress was called, and the relatively unknown chairman of the youth-wing of the party was elected chairman. His name was Alf Svensson, and he later became one of the most important figures in modern Swedish politics. In the national elections in 1973 the party gained the same result as the two preceding elections, 1,8%.
Before the national elections in 1976 there was a strong call for a change to a right-wing government in Sweden. The organisation "Vote right-wing" was formed to promote the change to a right-wing government. The KDS however announced they didn't want to be placed on the traditional right-wing/left-wing scale, a measurement system they felt was outdated. Therefore, the Vote right-wing organisation started a campaign of negative campaigning against the KDS with the slogan "Don't vote for KDS, don't throw away your vote" as the KDS party had not climbed the 4% threshold the last elections. The effects of a large campaign on a small and relatively new party like the KDS was disastrous, and the party only gained 1.4% of the votes in the election.
In the beginning of the 1980s, the party revamped their entire political manifesto. The party abandoned its conservative stance on abortion and instead assumed a moderate pro-choice stance and stated they wanted to work to lower the total amount of abortions in Sweden through preventive measures instead. In the 1980 Nuclear power referendums they party supported the "no" campaign, which meant a no to any further construction of new nuclear power-plants in Sweden and the phase-out of all nuclear power plants in Sweden within 10 years complete with increased investments in alternative energy.
In 1982 the Christian Democratic Women's league was founded and the party gained 1.9% of the votes, for the first getting more than 100 000 votes.

The way into the riksdag
In 1987 the party manifesto was revamped once again (although not as heavily as the last time) and the party changed its name to Christian Democratic Social Party (Kristdemokratiska Samhällspartiet). In the 1988 national elections the party grew significantly and gained 2.8% of the votes. But the Centre Party did not want any further electoral cooperation and the KDS MP had to leave the riksdag. Something had happened however. The party was now recognised as one of the major parties in Sweden, and Alf Svensson had become famous. According to many polls, he was in fact the most popular politician in the entire nation.
Several famous people joined the party and in the right-wing breakthrough national elections of 1991 the party grew explosively yet again and gained over 7% of the votes. The right-wing bloc gained a majority and the KDS formed government with the right-wing bloc. Several Christian Democrats got positions within the new government; Alf Svensson as the minister of foreign aid (and vice foreign minister), Inger Davidson as minister of civilian infrastructure and Mats Odell as minister of communications.
After the right-wing bloc lost the 1994 elections, the KDS managed to stay in the riksdag and had assumed a permanent position within Swedish national politics. In 1996 the party changed its name to the current form, Christian Democrats (Kristdemokraterna). The party believed this would help deter the belief that it was a religious party. In 1998 the party had its best elections ever, gaining over 11% of the votes, it established itself as the 4th largest party in Sweden, becoming larger than their former electoral partner the Centre Party. In the 2002 national elections the party got less votes but still held on to its position as the 4th largest party.
In 2004, the famous Alf Svensson stepped down in favor of his long designated successor Göran Hägglund.
At the end of 2005, the party had 24 202 confirmed members making it the 4th largest party in size as well. Its one of the few parties in Sweden not continuously losing a lot of members. The Christian Democrats are represented in almost every municipality and region in Sweden.

The real breakthrough
Ideologically it is a centre-right Christian Democrat party, having a big part of their voter base among those who belong to evangelical denominations, known in Sweden as free churches - Pentecostals, Methodists, Baptists, etc. These churches have many followers in Småland, which is the region where the party is strongest. Other important voter groups are senior citizens and young families. Party's political message has been called 'neo-liberalism with a human face.'[1]
The party is a member of the European People's Party (EPP).

Christian Democrats (Sweden) Voter base

Christian Democratic Politicians

Party chairman
This list is not yet complete.

Vice chairman
This list is not yet complete.

Second vice chairman

Party secretary

Group leader in the riksdag

Peter Althin, MP and judicial spokesman
Jerzy Einhorn, cancer researcher and MP 1991-1994
Gert Fylking
Bror Stefenson, Chairman of the Christian Democratic Senior League
Anders Wijkman, MEP Other famous Christian democrats

Christian Democratic Youth League
Christian Democratic Student League
Christian Democratic Senior League
Christian Democratic Women's league
The foundation Civitas
Study organisation Framtidsbildarna Affiliated organisations
* - This type of election did not occur this year because of the electoral system.
** - The Christian Democrats stood on a joint list with the Centre Party, and thus no separate election results. The number supplied is the number of tickets with Christian Democratic candidates that were voted with under the common name.


Alliance for Sweden
Government of Sweden
Parliament of Sweden
Elections in Sweden
European People's Party

No comments: