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‘What do the New Liberals want?’ The forgotten republicanism in Swedish politics, 1867–1872

Magnus Olofsson ()

No 234, Lund Papers in Economic History from Lund University, Department of Economic History

Abstract: This paper argues that the leading radical political movement in Sweden around the year 1870, whose demands included expanding the franchise, female emancipation, religious freedom, universal conscription, and abolishment of land taxes, has been partly misconstrued and misunderstood in earlier scholarship, which has characterized the New Liberals rather vaguely as ‘liberal’, ‘radical’ or ‘democratic’. Through an analysis of the New Liberals’ internal and external communication, this paper instead argues that the New Liberal movement was influenced by the larger European republican tradition. Their democratic project was not liberal, but republican, and this can be seen in their views on political freedom and popular sovereignty, suffrage extension, and on the importance of politically active, virtuous, citizens. In short, the New Liberals wanted to remake the state from the ground up and reform the mores of the Swedish people along republican lines. This strong presence of republican ideas, which in earlier scholarship has been misconstrued as liberalism, it is argued, poses important questions for our understanding of Swedish nineteenth-century political life, not only during their active years but also in the decades that preceded and followed.

Keywords: Republicanism; Democratization; Sweden; Liberalism (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: N43 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 31 pages
Date: 2022-01-31
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-ban, nep-his and nep-hpe
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