Thorbjörn Fälldin

Thorbjörn Fälldin

Fälldin in 1967.
Prime Minister of Sweden
In office
12 October 1979  2 October 1982
(2 years, 355 days)
Monarch Carl XVI Gustaf
Deputy Ingemar Mundebo
Ola Ullsten
Preceded by Ola Ullsten
Succeeded by Olof Palme
In office
8 October 1976  18 October 1978
(2 years, 10 days)
Monarch Carl XVI Gustaf
Deputy Per Ahlmark
Ingemar Mundebo
Preceded by Olof Palme
Succeeded by Ola Ullsten
Personal details
Born Nils Olof Thorbjörn Fälldin
(1926-04-24)24 April 1926
Högsjö, Ångermanland, Sweden
Died 23 July 2016(2016-07-23) (aged 90)
Högsjö, Ångermanland, Sweden
Political party Centre Party
Spouse(s) Solveig Fälldin

Nils Olof Thorbjörn Fälldin (24 April 1926 – 23 July 2016) was a Swedish politician. He was Prime Minister of Sweden in three non-consecutive cabinets from 1976 to 1982, and leader of the Swedish Centre Party from 1971 to 1985.[1] On his first appointment in 1976, he was the first non-Social Democrat Prime Minister for forty years and the first since the 1930s not to have worked as a professional politician since his teens.[2]

Early life

Fälldin was born in Högsjö parish, Ångermanland, the son of the farmer Nils Johan Fälldin and his wife Hulda (née Olsson).[3] He grew up in a farming family in Ångermanland,[1] and in 1956 he and his wife, as a newlywed young couple, took over a small farm. However, the farming authorities did not approve the purchase, as the farm was considered too small and too run down for production, and so refused to provide farm subsidies. This fight led him into the youth branch of the Swedish agrarian party Farmers' League, which in 1958 changed its name to the Centre Party. He and his family maintained their farm throughout his political life, and when he resigned from politics in 1985, he immediately returned to it.[4]

Political career

Fälldin entered the Swedish national political stage when he was elected to the Swedish Riksdag in 1958 for the agrarian-rooted Centre Party. In competition with Johannes Antonsson, he became first vice-chairman of the party in 1969, and then chairman in 1971, succeeding veteran Gunnar Hedlund. In 1973, Fälldin proposed that the party should merge with the Liberal Party, but he failed to gain the support of a majority of party members.

In the 1976 election, the Social Democrats sensationally lost their majority for the first time in 40 years. The non-Socialist parties (the Centre Party, the Liberal Party and the Conservative Moderate Party) formed a coalition government, and as the Centre Party was the largest of the three, Fälldin was appointed Prime Minister. Two years later, however, the coalition fell apart over the issue of Swedish dependency on nuclear power (with the Centre Party taking a strong anti-nuclear stand), which led to Fälldin's resignation and the formation of a minority Liberal Party government.

Following the 1979 election, Fälldin regained the post of Prime Minister, despite his party suffering major losses and losing its leading role in the centre-right camp, primarily due to public disenchantment with the Centre Party over its compromise on nuclear power with the nuclear-friendly Moderates, and he again formed a coalition government with the Liberals and the Moderates. This cabinet also lasted for two years, when disagreement over tax policies compelled the Moderates to leave the coalition. Fälldin continued as Prime Minister until the election in 1982, when the Social Democrats regained power as the Socialist bloc won a majority in the Riksdag.

After a disastrous second election defeat in 1985 Fälldin faced massive criticism from his party. He resigned as party leader and retired from politics. His posts since that time have included chairman of Föreningsbanken, Foreningen Norden and Televerket.[5]


During his 27 years as a national politician Fälldin was generally appreciated in most political camps for his straightforwardness, unpretentiousness and willingness to listen to all views. His two periods as Prime Minister were far from easy; trying to get three very different parties to work together in a coalition, while Sweden underwent its worst recession since the 1930s.

Fälldin refused to allow security concerns to rule his life. During his years as Prime Minister, he lived on his own in a small rented apartment in central Stockholm, while his family ran the farm up in northern Sweden. He did his own cooking and carried out the garbage in the morning to the communal dustbins in the backyard, before taking a brisk 15-minute walk to his office, shadowed at a distance by an unmarked police car which had been waiting outside the apartment block - his only concession to the security concerns.

While serving as Prime Minister during the U 137 crisis in October–November 1981, Fälldin is remembered for the simple answer "Hold the border!" (Håll gränsen!) to the request for instructions from the Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces when faced with a suspected Soviet raid to free the stranded submarine.[6]


Personal life

In 1956, he married Solveig Öberg (born 1935), daughter of the farmer Albert Öberg and Sofia (née Näsman).[3] He died at the age of 90, on 23 July 2016.[7][8] The funeral was held on 11 August 2016 in Härnösand Cathedral and he was buried at Högsjö Cemetery in Högsjö, Härnösand Municipality.[9]


  1. 1 2 Marklund, Kari, ed. (1992). "Fälldin, Thorbjörn". Nationalencyklopedin (in Swedish). 7. Höganäs: Bra Böcker. ISBN 91-7133-426-2.
  2. Wilsford, David, ed. (1995). Political leaders of contemporary Western Europe: a biographical dictionary. Greenwood. pp. 132–39.
  3. 1 2 Uddling, Hans; Paabo, Katrin, eds. (1992). Vem är det: svensk biografisk handbok. 1993 [Who is it: Swedish biographical handbook. 1993] (in Swedish). Stockholm: Norstedt. pp. 362–363. ISBN 91-1-914072-X.
  4. Karmann, Jens (24 July 2016). "Thorbjörn Fälldin 1926–2016". Dagens Nyheter (in Swedish). Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  5. Svenning, Olle; T, Per (2014). Sveriges statsministrar under 100 år / Thorbjörn Fälldin (in Swedish). Albert Bonniers förlag. ISBN 9789100132453. LIBRIS 13496022.
  6. Wolodarski, Peter (30 October 2011). "När ryssen kom sade Fälldin: "Håll gränsen"". Dagens Nyheter (in Swedish). Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  7. Svensson, Frida (24 July 2016). "Thorbjörn Fälldin har avlidit – blev 90 år". Svenska Dagbladet (in Swedish). Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  8. "Swedish ex-prime minister Thorbjorn Fälldin dead at 90". The Local. 24 July 2016. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  9. Stattin, Gunnar (29 July 2016). "Planerna för Fälldins begravning tar form flera toppnamn närvarar". Örnsköldsviks Allehanda (in Swedish). Retrieved 2016-08-11.

Further reading

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Thorbjörn Fälldin.
Political offices
Preceded by
Olof Palme
Prime Minister of Sweden
Succeeded by
Ola Ullsten
Preceded by
Ola Ullsten
Prime Minister of Sweden
Succeeded by
Olof Palme
Party political offices
Preceded by
Gunnar Hedlund
Chairman of the Centre Party of Sweden
Succeeded by
Karin Söder
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