Swedish Social-Democracy Archive

The party program of 1897

Written: by Enn Kokk in 1897;
Translated: byDaniel Brandell.

The first Social Democratic program was taken in 1897. It was almost entirely written by Axel Danielsson. He started from the program of the German social democracy, the so called Ehrfurt program, which had been taken in the city Ehrfurt in 1890. Axel Danielsson’s and Hjalmar Branting’s social democracy was social revolutionary in the sense that it demanded a very thorough change of society, but it was never — even in its childhood — revolutionary in the sense which later became known as communism. On the contrary, the social democracy already from the beginning put up suffrage as its main goal.

In his text “The third left” the Left Party member Johan Lönnroth writes: “Sweden is maybe the advanced capitalist industrial country, which have had the strongest reformistic and weakest revolutionary marxist tradition within its labour movement.”

The Swedish program of 1897 was not a simple copy of the German social democratic program, though. There were for Sweden unique writings about the roll of the unions. It stood clear early for the Swedish worker’s movement, that the political and unionistic worker’s movement were two branches on the same tree. One should remember, that the majority of those who formed the party in 1889 represented unions, and that the party, until LO formed in 1898, also worked as a co-ordinator for the unions at a national level. For the young social democracy it was therefore naturally to put up the 8-hour-workday first on their political agenda.

It is important to notice, that one of the foundations for the new party was the marxist idea, that society is divided into classes, which could be defined from their positions in production, and that the social democracy was the party of the working class. This has throughout the entire history of the party marked the self-understanding of the social democracy.

The party should thus be a class party, which also meant, it should be a mass party, a democratic people’s movement. This idea became later one of the crucial issues, when what would become the communist party was separated from the social democracy. According to the Leninist party theory should a socialist party be an elite party, consisting of the small number of working class people which through their higher consciousness could be the avant-garde of the working class.

The thought of the people’s movement got later — a bit into the new century — also a wider, one could say, ideological content. The growing social democratic organisations and unions, to which new people’s movements like the Co-operation and ABF [educational] added, became something of a new society in the old one. They promised by their very existence and by their example in the middle of the bourgeoisie society the forthcoming socialistic society.

Program for the Social Democratic Worker’s Party of Sweden

taken on the 4th Party Congress in Stockholm 4 July 1897

General fundamental thesis

The social democracy differs from other political parties in thereby, that it completely wants to change the bourgeoisie society’s economical organisation and enforce the social emancipation of the working class, to secure and develop the spiritual and material culture.

The main reason for the imperfections, which clings to our day’s society, is in fact the private capitalistic way of production, which have dissolved the old petty-bourgeoisie social relationships, gathered the wealth in a few hands and divided society into workers and capitalists, with intermediate layers of partly diminishing older social classes — petty-farmers, handicraftsmen and small shopkeepers — partly upcoming new.

The private property right to the means of production was in earlier times a natural condition for production, since it assured the producer his product. But in the same way large-scale operation force handicraft away, the working machine the tool, the world trade and mass production break all market boundaries, in the same way are the real producers transformed to a class of wage earners, which in itself take up the sinking remains of the old middle classes and carry as its social mark lack of property and thereby dependence and oppression.

The extraordinary technical development of the work process, the incredibly raised productivity from human labour, the always on-going opening of new production fields, all this, by which the national wealth has multiplied, only results on one hand in unnatural gathering of wealth, on the other in a colossal growth of the working class.

But at the same time these relationships and this fateful tendency in the development of society force the workers to a counteractive motion. They organise as a class to obtain such a large share as possible in wage from the production of work. Thus the unions are formed and the constantly on-going, all the more larger forms taking struggle on the national and international labour market between workers and employers, a struggle, which shall never cease, until the working class have stopped being a class of wage earners.

This again can only happen through abolishment of the private capitalistic monopoly on the means of production and their transformation to collective, to all society belonging property, and the replacement of the planless production of goods with a socialistic, society’s real needs and corresponding production.

The social democracy therefore wants to enforce also the political organisation of the working class, take possession of the public power and gradually transform to common property all means of production — the means of transportation, the forests, the mines, the mills, the machines, the factories, the earth.

The interests of the working class are the same in every country with capitalistic way of production. With the development of world trade and the production for the world market will the position of the working class in one country become dependent of the positions in all other countries. The emancipation of the working class is thus an achievement, in which every people of culture must take part. With this the Swedish social democratic party declare themselves being a part of the social democracy in all countries.

Political program


General, equal and direct suffrage at political and municipal elections for all citizens of lawful age, without any differences between the sexes.

The election day a Sunday or a work-free day.

Abolishment of the first chamber [in parliament].


Public armament instead of a standing army.

Arbitration courts for international conflicts.

The parliament, an in last hand the citizens, decide upon war and peace.


The religion is declared a private thing.

Abolishment of state church and church budget.


Separation of school from church.

Development of the public school to a for all collective and to a cultural fulfilling school.


Jury trials in criminal cases.

Legal defenders applied by local municipalities or the state.

Legal help free of charge.


Proportional (progressive) income and wealth-taxes and inheritance tax.

Abolishment of all indirect taxes, which principally pressure the productive classes.

To the fulfilment of general needs of budgets, strong development of the states and local municipalities activity as producers and leaders of transportation and distribution.

Self-declaration with legal responsibility at taxation.


The common credit organised through the state.

The direct regulation of agricultural credit through the state. Laws which, under guarantees for rational agriculture, stops the expropriation of the smaller farmer without compensation or usage right.


A effective industrial welfare law, first:

a, Normal workday on maximum 8 hours;

b, Prohibition on using children under 14 in industry;

c. Prohibition on night work in every other case, when it is not necessary by the best of the production process or society;

d. Prohibit the truck system


Supervision of professional and industrial work in all branches through a modern industrial inspection.


Obligation for society to, in a humane way, care for all its members in case of sickness or accidents and in age.


Legal equality for industrial workers, farm workers, seamen and servants, e.g. through the abolishment of the subcontract regulation and the revision of the sea law.

Constitutionally securing complete rights to organise, assemble, print and speak.