The assassination of Olof Palme (February 28, 1986)

The assassination of Olof Palme (February 28, 1986)

February 28, 1986 Olof Palme Socialist Prime Minister of Sweden is assassinated by several bullets in the middle of Stockholm. His wife Lisbet injured in the murder will survive him and will subsequently identify a potential suspect (Christer Peterson) who will be convicted and acquitted the following year ... This case and its consequences, logically aroused a great stir in Sweden , which could be compared to the trauma engendered in the United States by the assassination of Kennedy. Beyond the abundance of theories (more or less conspiratorial) on the real identity of the shooter (s), the two cases concern two key figures in the politics of their respective states.

Palme, Swedish social democratic leader

Olof Palme came from a rather conservative wealthy background. He joined the Social Democratic Party when he was a student. In 1953 he became secretary to Prime Minister Tage Erlander, to whom he succeeded in 1969. In the meantime, he held several ministerial posts, notably in Education, where he undertook a series of ambitious reforms. Foreign affairs interested him primarily; his statements in favor of North Vietnam angered the United States, and there ensued tension in relations between the two countries. Palme shifted Swedish foreign policy in the direction of "active neutrality," and spoke in favor of pro-communist liberation movements in the Third World, an attitude which was seen as a breach of Sweden's traditional policy of neutrality.

Palme nonetheless condemned the interventions of the Soviet Union in Czechoslovakia, Poland and Afghanistan, and protested forcefully against the incursions of Soviet submarines into Swedish territorial waters in the 1980s. During his first mandate, he encountered, domestically, to economic difficulties, and had to leave power after the 1976 elections. In the early 1980s, he was the personal representative of the United Nations Secretary-General in the Gulf region, and looked for possibilities to peacefully end the Iraq-Iran war. He also took part in the Brandt commission on North-South issues, and headed the UN commission on disarmament and security (known as the “Palme commission”), whose “Common security” report, published in 1982, recommended creation of a central European corridor without chemical or nuclear weapons. He became Prime Minister again in 1982.

The assassination of Olof Palme

Of socialist conviction, close to the unions, he was sometimes accused of being favorable to the Soviets. Figure of the famous Swedish welfare state model, he often revealed himself in domestic politics divided between his ideals and a certain pragmatism. A charismatic personality, he displayed great simplicity in his lifestyle, regularly refusing, for example, the protection of bodyguards. Olof Palme was assassinated in Stockholm while returning from the cinema with his wife on February 28, 1986; his murder has not been clarified.

During his career he had the opportunity to make many enemies, whether by criticizing the American intervention in Vietnam, by denouncing the Apartheid regime in South Africa and by supporting various socialist and revolutionary movements in Central America. . His positions internationally, sometimes very controversial, have logically fueled rumors about the identity of his killers, which an investigation that will have cost several tens of millions of euros has failed to determine.

For further

- Olof Palme, biography of Hans Haste. Descartes, 1994.

- The mad investigation of Stieg Larsson: On the trail of the murderers of Olof Palme, by Jan Stocklassa. I read, 2020.

Video: Sweden: Prosecutor drops probe into 1986 murder of PM Olof Palme with main suspect dead