Olof Palme Memorial

Start Date: Sep 10, 2015

Finish Date: Jan 5, 2017

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A wonderful man, an amazing leaderSmile

"The rights of democracy are not reserved for a select group within society, they are the rights of All the People"Wink

"For us Democracy is a Question of Human DignityWink

And Human Dignity is Political  Freedom"Smile

"Our goal is freedom, as far as possible, from the pressure of external conditions, freedom for individuals to develop their unique personalities, freedom to shape our lives in accordance with our own wishes."Smile

Olof Palme changed the world and he does so to this day. His words and deeds still inspires people to commit to democracy, human rights and peaceSmile

In spite of his upper middle class origin, Olof Palme became one of the Swedish labour movement’s strongest leaders. His political career started in 1953, when Tage Erlander, the Prime Minister, employed him as his personal secretary. Already at that time Palme had formed the ideas that characterized his political work : the elimination of colonialism, the right of national self-determination, the need for a new economic world order, the fight against racism, the dream of equal rights and the democratisation of education.Wink

Olof Palme remained a reformer all his life, pursuing traditional Swedish social democratic policies. He believed in a strong society where full employment and the public sector were the two most important means to increase equality between different social groups as well as between sexes. One of his basic ideas was the concept of a general welfare policy: everybody, regardless of their resources, should benefit from the welfare system. This would maintain solidarity and the will to pay taxes, and also help prevent the rich obtaining private solutions out of reach of the poorWink

At the beginning of the 1970’s the Swedish welfare system reached its peak, and the concept known as ”The Swedish Model” was coined. At the end of the decade , however, western democracies in general were beginning to experience what was sometimes called a crisis of democracy. Sweden was not spared. Olof Palme envisioned a renewal of democracy by reforming working life. Many new laws concerning the labour market were passed during these years. 

Olof Palme considered the fight against unemployment to be the most important task of social democracy, and much to the irritation of new ’liberal’ and single-minded free market advocates he defended a strong society with strong labour unions and general welfare to the very end.

As leader of a new generation of Swedish Social Democrats, Olof Palme was often described as a "revolutionary reformist". 

Domestically, his democratic socialist views, especially the drive to expand Labour Union influence over business ownership, engendered a great deal of hostility from the organized business community. His reforms on labour market included establishing a law which increased job security. In the Swedish 1973 general election, the Socialist-Communist and the Liberal-Conservative blocs got 175 places each in the Riksdag. The Palme cabinet continued to govern the country but several times they had to draw lots to decide on some issues, although most important issues were decided through concessional agreement. Tax rates also rose from being fairly low even by European standards to the highest levels in the Western world.

Under Olof Palme's permiership tenure, matters concerned with child care centers, social security, protection of the elderly, accident safety, and housing problems received special attention. Under Palme the public health system in Sweden became efficient, with the infant mortality rate standing at 12 per 1,000 live births. An ambitious redistributive programme was carried out, with special help provided to the disabled, immigrants, the low paid, single-parent families, and the old. The Swedish welfare state was significantly expanded from a position already one of the most far-reaching in the world during his time in office. As noted by Isabela Mares, during the first half of the Seventies “the level of benefits provided by every subsystem of the welfare state improved significantly.”

In 1971, eligibility for invalidity pensions was extended with greater opportunities for employees over the age of 60. In 1974, universal dental insurance was introduced, and former maternity benefits were replaced by a parental allowance. In 1974, housing allowances for families with children were raised and these allowances were extended to other low-income groups. Childcare centres were also expanded under Palme, and separate taxation of husband and wife introduced. Access to pensions for older workers in poor health was liberalised in 1970, and a disability pension was introduced for older unemployed workers in 1972.

Olof Palme was smoking his filter cigarettes almost anywhere anytime, he was a heavy smoker and I guess in this photo below he argues with Fidel Castro about Havana Cigars and his filter cigarettenSmileCool

Olof palme was an outspoken supporter of gender equality, Palme sparked interest for women's' rights issues, here below with Greek famous actress and Minister of Culture Melina MerqouriSmile

Olof Palme was a lover of Greece, lover of Greek civilisation and Greek musicSmile He was fond of the music of Mikis Theodorakis and close friend of former Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou

On the international scene, Palme was a widely recognised political figure because of his:

  • harsh and emotional criticism of the United States over the Vietnam War;
  • His famous speech in the city of Gävle on 30 July 1965 sounds so apropos and up todate: 
    ”We encounter the fate of individuals in a strikingly simple manner. We see images of pain and torture, of mutilated children and crippled adults. . . . We react with sympathy, with outraged emotions in the face of this meaningless suffering. For a crime is always a crime, and terror is always terror, even when it is committed in the name of lofty principles and objectives. . . . It is an illusion to believe that it is possible to meet demands for social justice with violence and military might. . . .
    ”I do not know if the peasants of the Vietnamese countryside-- for it is, of course, Vietnam that I have mainly been talking about-- have any utopian visions of the future. The impressions one receives convey a sense of hopelessness and resignation, of despair and bewilderment at a political power struggle that spills over onto their lives. If they dream of the future, it is most likely in simple terms-- a peaceful existence, without hunger and in which their human dignity is respected. To them, such a vision probably seems remote and unrealistic. To us, it seems modest and self-evident, illustrating the sharp contrasts of the world we live in.
  • ”But if we shift from a geographical to a temporal perspective, those contrasts tend to fade away. For, it was essentially just such a utopian vision that animated the pioneers of the labour movement. They dreamed of a society that could offer human dignity, bread, work and security. That vision of the future inspired them to action and faith in the future, even though it seemed remote and unrealistic. Now, that vision has become commonplace and self-evident: Yesterday’s utopian vision has become today’s reality.”
  • vocal opposition to the crushing of the Prague Spring by the Soviet Union;
  • criticism of European Communist regimes, including labeling the Husák regime as "The Cattle of Dictatorship" (Swedish: "Diktaturens kreatur") in 1975;
  • campaigning against nuclear weapons proliferation;
  • opposition to Apartheid, branding it as "a particularly gruesome system", and support for economic sanctions against South Africa;
  • support, both political and financial, for the African National Congress (ANC)
  • strong criticism of the Pinochet regime in Chile;

All of this ensured that Palme had many opponents (as well as many friends) abroad.

Al Burke writes "As a matter of fact, Olof Palme is still among us, in the form of the exceedingly valuable intellectual legacy he left behind. If we neglect or squander that legacy, we make of ourselves something less than what we are-- which, for the reasons noted above, is a important not only for us, but for the world at large.'

Security had never been a major issue, and Olof Palme could often be seen without any bodyguard protection. The night of his murder was one such occasion. Walking home from a cinema with his wife Lisbet Palme in the central Stockholm street Sveavägen, close to midnight on 28 February 1986, the couple was attacked by an assassin. Palme was fatally shot in the back at close range. A second shot was fired at Lisbet Palme, the bullet grazing her back. She survived without serious injuries.Cry

Who is killing the Dream?Cry

Who is killing the Angels?Cry