Considering that Sweden is one of the most progressive countries in the world, and one of the countries that lies furtherest left on the political spectrum, its actually really surprising that it hasn’t had a female Prime Minister*.
There were a few occasions on which that might have happened in recent history, the most recent being the Anna Kinberg Batra’s leadership of the Moderate party until she was replaced from the leadership of her party in 2018.
She was not the first major politician to almost become Sweden first Prime Minister who happened to be female, that distinction rests with another person – Anna Lindh, of the Social Democratic Party.
And she would have become Prime Minister if not for a tragic assassination.
A Stockholm native, Lindhs political career began early when she became politically active at the age of 12 and joined the youth league Sweden’s dominant Social Democratic Party. Considered a politician of conviction, Lindh’s first objective upon joining the party was to protest against the Vietnam War.
She continued with her political activities after graduating with a Law degree at the University of Uppsala and then by 1982 was a serious young politician. Some politicians are focused on local issues, Lindh was the exact opposite, she made her name focused on global affairs. In 1998, at the relatively young age of 42 she was appointed Foreign Affairs Minister (her second ministerial role after an earlier stint in the Environment ministry).
The current political climate around Europe is more skeptical of the European Union and the powers that be in Brussels.
Not Lindh, she was passionate about the European Project and was campaigning strongly for Swedens entry into the Eurozone (the yes camp lost the referendum, explaining why Sweden retains the use of the Crown today).
Then came 10th September 2003, while shopping at the Nordiska Kompaniet for clothes in the lead up to a Eurozone televised debate that night, Lindh was stabbed brutally in the back. Just like Olof Palme, she was a minister who had no security with her. She died of Medical complications the next day.
Her murderer was a Swede of Serbian-descent, Mijailo Mijailovic. There was no motive however, this was the case of a man who was on hypnotic drugs, and who at the time hated politicians with a passion. Her death was a coincidence of being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Unsurprisingly, an outpouring of grief and memorials, took place after the fact, with professorships, statues and the like (such as this in the St Katarina ‘s Church).
But it doesn’t take away the fact the on 10th September 2003, Sweden lost its she who would have become Prime Minister.
Its ironic how we want politicians to be close to the people, and those that do usually do so at the risk of their lives (John Kennedy, Pope Johan Paul II, Olof Palme), and yet once they start to have security they lose their personablity.
*Some major countries with famous female leaders include United Kingdom (Margaret Thatcher, Theresa May), Indonesia (Megawati Sukarnoputri), The Philippines (Corazon Aquino, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo), Australia (Julia Gillard), Germany (Angela Merkel) and New Zealand (Helen Clark, Jacinda Arden).
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