2 thoughts on “British and Swedish poetry and history

  1. 100 years ago: Constitutional crisis in Sweden over military build-up

    On February 10, 1914, the Swedish government resigned, with more than 100 Liberal members of parliament issuing a joint statement warning that the actions of King Gustav V threatened to put an end to parliamentary rule. A conservative government was installed, headed by Hjalmar Hamarskiöld and comprised of business leaders and high-ranking civil servants.

    The crisis was sparked by King Gustav’s “Courtyard Speech” on February 6, when he addressed 30,000 farmers and conservatives who had marched against the Liberal cabinet headed by Prime Minister Karl Albert Staaff, demanding an increase in defence spending.

    The protesters were mobilized by the conservatives on the militarist demand that Sweden boost its army on the pretext of protecting it from external enemies, in particular Russia. There were mounting tensions over the disputed border of Sweden with Finland, then part of the Czar’s empire.

    King Gustav’s speech voiced support for an increase in military spending. It was written by explorer Sven Hedin, a pro-monarchist and admirer of Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm. On assuming office in 1911, Staaff’s cabinet had abandoned the construction of the F-Type warship begun by the previous conservative government, maintaining that such a warship was too narrow for Swedish waterways and that the only justification for it would be to cooperate in an offensive with the German navy.

    Political tensions ran high following the king’s speech. According to the New York Times, 30,000 socialists held a demonstration on February 8 in front of government offices protesting against any increased expenditures on armaments, demanding instead that ministers work for peace.

    Staaff’s Liberal government protested against the king’s speech, maintaining that as a constitutional monarch he should not make political speeches without first having the substance of such speeches approved by the Cabinet. The king refused to submit to such a restraint.



  2. Pingback: British poetry in opposition | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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