Stockholm in June 1976

 

The Kingdom in the Polls

 

TO THE WORLD PRESS

On the occasion of the royal wedding June 19, 1976 many representatives of the world press have arrived in Sweden with a query:

How can an advanced, modern, democratic people with strong socialist leanings support something so archaic as a monarchy?

Sifo ó Swedenís leading public opinion poll did a special survey to illuminate this issue. The survey was done in May 1976. Personal interviews here conducted with a probability sample of 1000 Swedes, representing a cross-section of the population between 18 and 70 years of age. Here follows the report written by Sifo researchers Karin Busch and Hans L Zetterberg. You are free to use it as you please.

 

The strength of the monarchy

In a recent revamping of the Swedish constitution the king was stripped of all remaining political power. Thus, he can no longer appoint a prime minister after the resignation of a government. That lost vestige of royal power is now exercised by the speaker of the Riksdag. The king now pays taxes like any citizen except on his expense account and on the income of a 150 year old trust fund held by the Government. Furthermore, the new constitution is written so that, by changing a few key sentences, the country could become a republic. This would probably have happened if Carl Gustaf had not survived into adulthood. For Sweden is separated from a republican constitution "only by the stroke of a pen" to use Olof Palmeís words. His party, the Social Democrats, has had the introduction of the republic on every platform since the first one in 1897. But the Social Democrats have not carried out this program in spite of the fact that they have held the government for 44 years. They have had more important things to do in the government. And after stripping the king of any power or privilege that might be offensive to an egalitarian, democratic spirit, the pressure to turn the kingdom into a republic is less than ever.

The Swedes were asked by the Sifo poll in May 1976: "In the long run, do you think monarchy or republic is best for Sweden?"

 

All
%

Socialists
%

Non-Socialists
%

Monarchy

Republic

Both equally good

Donít know

69

14

6

11

56

22

7

15

80

6

5

9

Total

100

100

100

 

Backing from recent history

To understand this solid attitude of support for the monarchy one must both look at history and at the needs of a modern people.

No Swedish king has interfered with the democratic process since the great grandfather of the present king made an unsuccessful try in 1914 during World War I. His successor, Gustaf VI Adolf, the grandfather of the present king, was an immensely learned and dedicated man who took a genuine interest in all aspects of cultural, economic and social life. He lived to be 91. There was not a trace of scandal, misuse of position, or public errors in his conduct as a king. He consistently bowed to the power of the Riksdag and the elected government and always avoided any kind of personal diplomacy in foreign affairs.

The outstanding record of Gustaf VI Adolf made it natural for Swedish opinion to preserve the kingdom. When the former king lay at his death bed, a poll question was asked: "Do you feel we should keep the monarchy and let the crown prince be king, or should we have a republic when the old king is dead?" A broad majority, 75 per cent, said that they wanted the crown prince to carry on, including 71 per cent of the Social Democrats. (This question has not previously been published.)

 

Backing from contemporary societal needs

The key reason for the continued support for the kingdom cannot be sought in history but resides amongst us. A cue is given in the following two questions asked by Sifo: "What would you pay most attention to: a statement about the future delivered by the prime minister or a statement about the future delivered by the king?" And "Which do you think would be most festive: a visit to your community by the prime minister or a visit by the king?" The Swedes answered these two questions in a most interesting and illuminating way: Most Swedes would listen more to the prime ministerís statement about the future.

 


All
%


Socialists
%

Non-Socialists
%

Listen to prime minister

Listen to the king

Both the same

Donít know


60

27

5

8


69

21

4

6


54

33

5

8

Total

100

100

100

Even outside his own party the prime minister would get more listeners than the king in what he says about the future. For after all, the prime minister is the executive leader of the nation.

But the pattern of answers is reversed when we ask about who brings most festivity with a visit:

 


All
%


Socialists
%

Non-Socialists
%

Most festive with PM visiting

Most festive with king visiting

Both the same

Donít know


7


84

5

4


15


73

7

5


1


93

3

3

Total

100

100

100

Even the PMs own party members, the Social Democrats, feel that a visit from the king is more festive. For the king is the expressive leader of the nation.

Each nation needs both types of leadership. In the established republics such as France and the United States the president carries both the roles of executive and expressive leader. Sweden has made a clean break between the two and given the roles to two separate persons. In this way, the king and the democratically elected leader not merely co-exist but actually complement one another. Each meets a need of the notion.

Do the Swedes approve of this way of arranging things? They are quite satisfied, it seems. "How do you feel about our present system that a prime minister heads the affairs of the nation, and that a king handles representative duties and is a symbol for the nation? Is it a good or bad division of labor?"

 


All
%


Socialists
%

Non-Socialists
%

Good division of labor

Bad division of labor

Donít know


76


14

10


77


13

10


76


13

11

Total

100

100

100

In regard to the monarchy, the modern Swedes have preserved something old, changed it to suit their needs, and adopted it for the future. It is like so many other things of modern Swedish design: inspired by tradition, yet highly functional and smart, and likely to have a long future usefulness.

 

The choice of  bride

A differentiation between executive and expressive tasks occur often in human life. In the 1940s an American social psychologist, Fred Bales, found that in most every group there emerges after a few meetings one person as the chief task leader and another person as the one who takes care of the good fellowship and group morale. And his colleague, sociologist Talcott Parsons, found the duality between the instrumental and the expressive at the bottom of every social system. Actually, already in the early part of the century, German sociologist Max Weber had found it necessary to separate what he called rational and affective pursuits in much the some way. And in a way this has always been known as witnessed by our common distinction between skill and emotion, head and heart, etc.

Some roles in society, such as that of the singer, the cheer leader, the mother involve more expressive activities than others. To the more expressive roles belongs also that of the hostess. She shall make everyone feel welcome, relax tensions, create an atmosphere of comfort or celebration.

Gone are the days when a king must marry into aristocracy or royalty. The main requirement for a king with an expressive role is rather to find a partner in this role. This becomes apparent when the Swedes answer the poll question: "Are you for or against that the king marries Silvia Sommerlath?" The question was asked in January and May 1976.

 

January
%

May
%

For Silvia

Against Silvia

Donít know, let the king do what he pleases

38

2

60

70

1

29

Total

100

100

In January the romance was known only through gossip. In May the engagement had occurred. If we discard those who do not express an opinion we find that the vote for Silvia was 19 against 1 in January, and after the engagement the figures became 70 against 1. You may safely conclude that the Swedes are delighted with the choice of bride.

 

The dangers to the expressive monarchy

For the foreseeable future Sweden will remain a kingdom. The danger to the monarchy are chiefly two:

  1. The royal couple could find their role too demanding and resign. An abdication could be brought about if they feel that mass media and the public make the role unbearable. To be king and queen in Sweden is a regular job. Like all jobs it should end in privacy after the official duties are over and it must be interrupted by vacations. Without respect for such elementary requirements the monarchy is vulnerable.
  2. The expressive role of the royalty could be misused or exploited by reactionary circles who encourage the court to overstep its boundaries and move into the realm of politics and executive power. This would quickly raise the demand for a republican constitution. In other words, to survive the royal family must be protected from the most ardent royalists.

 

The questions in Swedish

The original wording of the questions cited in this newsletter is as follows:

I det långa loppet tror ni att monarki eller republik är bäst för Sverige?

Monarki
Republik
Båda lika
Tveksam, vet ej

Maj 1976


Detta är Sifos standardfråga om monarki-republik som regelbundet upprepas. Massmedia bör vara på sin vakt mot opinionsundersökningar om stödet för monarkin som ej använder denna formulering och ej använder besöksintervjuer och sannolikhetsurval. Genom att ställa frågan på annat sätt kan man se ett falskt intryck att opinionen svängt.

När nuvarande kungen dör, tycker ni att vi skall ha kvar kungadömet och att kronprinsen bör bli kung eller tycker ni att man då skall övergå till republik?

Kronprisen skall få bli kung
Vi bör ha kvar kungadömet, men kronprinsen bör inte bli kung
Vi bör övergå till republik
Tveksam, vet ej

Aug 1973

Gillar eller ogillar ni att kungen gifter sig med Silvia Sommerlath?

Gillar
Ogillar
Varken gillar eller ogillar

Jan 1976
Maj 1976

Vilket tror ni skulle ge största fest- stämningen i en kommun: att få besök av kungen eller av statsministern?

Kungen
Statsministern
Båda lika
Tveksam, vet ej

Maj 1976

Vilket tror ni svenskarna skulle bry sig mest om: ett uttalande om framtiden av kungen eller ett uttalande om framtiden av statsministern?

Kungens uttalande om framtiden
Statsministerns uttalande om
framtiden
Båda lika
Tveksam, vet ej

Maj 1976

Vad tycker ni om vårt nuvarande system att en statsminister leder skötseln av rikets angelägenheter och att en kung sköter representation och är en symbol för riket? Är det en lämplig eller olämplig arbetsfördelning?

Lämplig arbetsfördelning Olämplig arbetsfördelning
Tveksam, vet ej

Maj 1976

 

(c) SIFO. INDIKATOR ger opinionsledare och personer i ansvarsställning upplysningar om det rådande opinionsläget och förändringar i samhället.

Siffermaterialet är vanligen hämtat från SIFO:s s k veckobussar, de kontinuerliga intervjuundersökningar som SIFO gör kring vartannat veckoskifte med ett representativt riksurval av befolkningen i åldern 18-70 år. De baseras på 1.000 intervjuer. Om annan tidpunkt ej angives har intervjuerna gjorts veckorna före utgivningen. Om ej annat angives är de frågor som redovisas ställda på SIFO:s bekostnad och ansvar och gjorda enbart för INDIKATOR.

Uppgifter från utlandet kommer från instituten tillhörande Gallup International där SIFO är exklusiv svensk representant. Genom denna organisation kan undersökningar i 33 länder i alla världsdelar utföras.

SlFO:s INDIKATOR utkommer oregelbundet. Prenumerationsavgiften, kronor 150, gäller för fem konsekutiva nummer, insättes på postgiro 507350-7, bankgiro 481-3531, SIFO, Box 131, 162 12 Vällingby 1. Lösnummer: kronor 40.

Ansvarig utgivare: Hans L Zetterberg.

ISSN-nummer 0345-5262