The Liberals are Sweden’s oldest political party, with its origins dating back to 1809 when a new constitution curbed royal power.
Since 2006 the Liberals have been part of the four party coalition government, along with the conservative Moderates, the Center, and Christian Democrats. Minister for Education Jan Björklund took over as party leader from Lars Leijonborg in 2007.
Education has been the party's highest profile issue in government, advocating a return to grading for younger students, requiring that more teachers be credentialed, and other reforms.
The modern Liberal Party was formed in 1900, and was a major party until the period of Social Democrat domination began in the 1930’s. The Liberals believe in a free market economy combined with support for social welfare programs.
As late as 1956 the Liberals were still Sweden’s second largest party with around 24 percent of the vote.
The Liberals returned to power in coalition with other center-right parties between 1976 and 1982 and again between 1991 and 1994.
When the coalition broke down over the issue of nuclear power, a Liberal minority government under Ola Ullsten ruled for 12 months in 1978-79.
Controversial Immigration Policies
The party believes in a free market economy combined with support for social welfare programs. The party has a strong internationalist perspective and is a vocal supporter of deeper EU participation, and controversially for Sweden, an eventual adoption of the Euro and membership in NATO.
Traditionally the Liberals have supported high levels of foreign aid and a generous policy on asylum.
But under leader Lars Leijonborg in 2002, the Liberals presented som radical new policies, including a controversial language test for citizenship, which were perceived by many to be restrictive towards immigrants. The party went on to triple its voter support to 13.3 percent, becoming Sweden’s third largest party.