Sven Olof Joachim Palme was born on January 30th, 1927, in Stockholm, Sweden. He was the youngest child of a well-off family. However, his father died when Olof was only seven years old. Due to sickness, he received private education.
After serving two years in the Swedish army, he entered Stockholm University in 1947. He graduated with a law degree in 1951. Besides, in 1948, he gained a bachelor’s degree at Kenyon College in Ohio, USA. According to Palme, his visit to the USA turned him into a socialist. That was in contrast to his conservative family background.
Shortly after, Olof Palme entered the Social Democratic Party. Prime Minister Tage Erlander chose him as his secretary in 1953. Five years later, he joined the parliament. Further, between 1963 and 1969, Palme held various ministries, namely of education. Then, at 42 years old, he became the Prime Minister of Sweden.
Olof Palme’s Sweden
Olof Palme had a strong orientation on social welfare and was a reformer in general. Thus, his politics revolved around limiting unemployment and the robust rights of the workers. However, he only saw these as an addition or correction to a free-market society. Further, he believed that women should have equal rights to men and fought against racism.
In 1972, Palme heavily criticized the American involvement in Vietnam and the bombing of Hanoi. As a result, the relationship between the two counties deteriorated. However, he also strongly opposed the Soviet Union and the Eastern block. Hence, he was very neutral in the field of diplomacy.
In 1956, Olof Palme was married to Lisbeth Beck-Friis, with whom he had three children. In addition, he staged a 1948 fake marriage to a Czechoslovak refugee Jelena Rennerova to help her escape the communist regime.
He left office in 1976. Yet, his popularity won him the prime minister seat again in 1982. On February 28th, 1986, in the evening hours, Olof Palme was inexplicably shot on the streets of Stockholm. He died shortly after. Swedes and the whole world remember him as a proud and popular social democrat, reformer, and talented speaker.
“The rights of democracy are not reserved for a select group within society, they are the rights of all the people.”Olof Palme