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The Presidentialization of PoliticsA Comparative Study of Modern Democracies$
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Thomas Poguntke and Paul Webb

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199252015

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2005

DOI: 10.1093/0199252017.001.0001

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‘President Persson’—How Did ‘President Persson’—How Did Sweden Get Him?

‘President Persson’—How Did ‘President Persson’—How Did Sweden Get Him?

Chapter:
(p.176) 8 ‘President Persson’—How Did Sweden Get Him?
Source:
The Presidentialization of Politics
Author(s):

Nicholas Aylott

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0199252017.003.0008

Sweden is undoubtedly a parliamentary democracy. Indeed, many felt that the legislature had become too strong, and the executive too weak. But recently, this argument has been turned round. The Social Democratic Prime Minister, Göran Persson, has frequently been described as a ‘presidential’ figure. Has Sweden become presidentialized?

Organizational changes, including the empowerment of the Prime Minister's Office and the country's accession to the EU in 1994, have certainly enhanced the chief executive's resources. Just as important, though, has been the interaction of the Swedish style of ‘negative parliamentarism’ and the contemporary party system. While the Left bloc has a parliamentary majority, the practical consequence is to make any alternative to a Social Democratic prime minister highly unlikely. With full control of his party, his position becomes nearly impregnable. Other ministers are increasingly recruited from outside parliament, as in a presidential system. When it comes to the electoral face, the picture is less clear. The media are certainly more party-leader-focused. But persuasive evidence that this also applies to voting behaviour has not (yet) been found. In sum, Sweden has become somewhat ‘presidentialized’. But electoral shifts, especially if they lead to change in the party system, could set the process back.

Keywords:   bloc politics, intra-party power, media, negative parliamentarism, party leader, Persson, presidentialization, Social Democrats, Sweden, voting behaviour

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