Politisk förändring och konstitutionell kontinuitet

En utmaning när man studerar politisk förändring är att uppmärksamma och rätt tolka förhållandet mellan formella lagar och institutioner och den informella sidan av saken. Ett strålande exempel på denna problematik, i koncis beskrivning av Björn Wittrock, utgörs av det faktum att Sveriges konstitution inte ändrades nämnvärt under en period av stor förändring, nämligen under landets demokratiseringsprocess.

Neighbouring Finland had declared its independence immediately after the Bolshevik revolution but went through a bloody civil war in the spring of 1918, whereas in Sweden suffrage now became truly universal (also for women) and parliamentary rule was hastily introduced in a barely constitutional manner. This dramatic shift occurred virtually without significant change to a single paragraph in the constitution (for a recent analysis of this period see Enzell, 2002). For a country that had one of the oldest constitutions in the world and that had always put a high premium on its written constitution, this change meant that the country entered a period of a constitutional limbo that was to last from roughly 1918 to 1974 when a new constitution was promulgated.

Entering into this limbo has never been treated as a serious problem by either scholars or politicians – it was seen as a pragmatic expediency. However, one important consequence of this state of what might perhaps even be termed constitutional schizophrenia was to make impossible anything like the emergence of constitutional patriotism. Leading Social Democratic and Liberal politicians could not possibly nourish such public sentiments for a constitution, the first paragraph of which stated: ‘The King alone rules the Realm’.

Another result, however, was that even right-wing Conservatives never came to doubt the legitimacy of the political order; even if the prime minister was a socialist, in the eyes of conservatives in the civil service, the military or society at large that did not change the fact that they owed their deepest loyalties to king and country and that the country was precisely the Kingdom of Sweden. Even after the events of 1917–18, the King, although no longer free to choose whomever he wanted as his key advisers in the Cabinet, remained the official head of the administration as well as commander in chief of the armed forces.


Wittrock, Björn. 2004. “The Making of Sweden.” Thesis Eleven 77 (1) (May 1): 45–63. doi:10.1177/0725513604042659.


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