No More Political Insiders? Ministerial Selection in Sweden During the Post-WWII Period

  • Hanna Bäck
  • Thomas Persson
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Political Leadership book series (PSPL)


This chapter focuses on investigating various background features of individual ministers in post-WWII Sweden, specifically on whether ministers have a ‘political insider’ background, or whether they are better characterized as being ‘outsiders’ or ‘experts’. We analyse the background of ministers as a response to several claims made in the previous literature, for example, some scholars suggest that ministers with an ‘outsider’, or non-political background are more likely to be appointed as European integration increases, whereas other scholars focus on the effects of economic conditions, suggesting that ‘technocrats’ are more likely to be appointed during economic crises. On average, freshman ministers in Sweden tend to have a fairly solid political background. A majority of ministers appointed for the first time have a background as members of the Swedish Riksdag or as members of a local parliament. Taken together, evidence from Sweden suggests a continued strong role for politically experienced ministers. The Swedish parliamentary system allows for the appointment of political outsiders, not least during the European economic and financial crisis but the main pattern still is that persons appointed as ministers have a solid political background before taking office.


Ministerial selection Parliamentary delegation Political insiders Sweden Technocracy 


  1. Alexiadou, D., & Gunaydin, H. (2015). Selecting the Right Minister: The Appointments and Policy Effects of Technocrat and Expert Ministers. Paper presented at the Annual MPSA meeting in Chicago, April.Google Scholar
  2. Amorim Neto, O., & Strøm, K. (2006). Breaking the Parliamentary Chain of Delegation: Presidents and Non-partisan Cabinet Members in European Democracies. British Journal of Political Science, 36(4), 619–643.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bäck, H., & Bergman, T. (2016). The Parties in Government Formation. In J. Pierre (Ed.), Oxford University Press Handbook of Swedish Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bäck, H., Debus, M., & Müller, W. C. (2016). Intra-party Diversity and Ministerial Selection in Coalition Governments. Public Choice, 166, 355–378.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bäck, H., Dumont, P., Meier, H. E., Persson, T., & Vernby, K. (2009). Does European Integration Lead to a “Presidentialisation” of Executive Politics? Ministerial Selection in Swedish Postwar Cabinets. European Union Politics, 10(2), 226–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bäck, H., Meier, H. M., Persson, T., & Fischer, J. (2012). European Integration and Prime Ministerial Power: A Differential Impact on Cabinet Reshuffles in Germany and Sweden. German Politics, 21, 184–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bäck, H., Persson, T., Vernby, K., & Wockelberg, H. (2008). In Tranquil Waters: Swedish Cabinet Ministers in the Post-war Era. In K. Dowding & P. Dumont (Eds.), The Selection of Ministers in Europe: Hiring and Firing. London; New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Bergman, T. (1995). Constitutional Rules and Party Goals in Coalition Formation. Umeå: Umeå University, Department of Political Science.Google Scholar
  9. Bergman, T. (2000). When Minority Cabinets Are the Rule and Majority Coalitions the Exception. In W. C. Müller & K. Strøm (Eds.), Coalition Governments in Western Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Berlinski, S., Dewan, T., & Dowding, K. (2010). Individual and Collective Ministerial Performance and the Tenure of Ministers in the UK 1945–1997. Journal of Politics, 72(2), 559–571.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Berlinski, S., Dewan, T., & Dowding, K. (2012). Accounting for Ministers: Scandal and Survival in British Government 1945–2007. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. De Winter, L. (1991). Parliamentary and Party Pathways to the Cabinet. In J. Blondel & J.-L. Thiébault (Eds.), The Profession of Government Minister in Western Europe (pp. 44–69). Basingstoke: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dewan, T., & Dowding, K. (2005). The Corrective Effect of Ministerial Resignations on Government Popularity. American Journal of Political Science, 49(1), 46–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dowding, K., & Dumont, P. (2008) (Eds.) The Selection of Ministers in Europe: Hiring and Firing. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  15. Dowding, K., & Kang, W.-T. (1998). Ministerial Resignations 1945–97. Public Administration, 76, 411–429.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Erlingsson, G. O., Kölln, A.-K., & Öhberg, P. (2016). The Party Organizations. In J. Pierre (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Swedish Politics (pp. 169–187). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Hallerberg, M., & Wehner, J. (2013). The Technical Competence of Economic Policy-Makers in Developed Democracies. Retrieved March 21, 2013, from SSRN: or
  18. Hansen, M. E., Klemmensen, R., Hobolt, S. B., & Bäck, H. (2013). Portfolio Saliency and Ministerial Turnover. Dynamics in Scandinavian Post-war Cabinets. Scandinavian Political Studies, 36, 227–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Huber, J. D., & Martinez-Gallardo, C. (2008). Replacing Cabinet Ministers: Patterns of Ministerial Stability in Parliamentary Democracies. American Political Science Review, 102(2), 169–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kam, C., Bianco, W. T., Sened, I., & Smyth, R. (2010). Ministerial Selection and Intraparty Organization in the Contemporary British Parliament. American Political Science Review, 104(2), 289–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kam, C., & Indriðason, I. (2005). The Timing of Cabinet Reshuffles in Five Westminister Parliamentary Systems. Legislative Studies Quarterly, 30(3), 327–364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Martin, L. W., & Vanberg, G. (2005). Policing the Bargain: Coalition Government and Parliamentary Scrutiny. American Journal of Political Science, 48(1), 13–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Müller, W. C. (2000). Political Parties in Parliamentary Democracies: Making Delegation and Accountability Work. European Journal of Political Research, 37(3), 309–333.Google Scholar
  24. Müller, W. C., & Meyer, T. M. (2010). Meeting the Challenges of Representation and Accountability in Multiparty Governments. West European Politics, 33, 1065–1092.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Persson, T., & Wiberg, M. (2011). The Nordic Model of Parliamentary Government and Its Challenges. In T. Persson & M. Wiberg (Eds.), Parliamentary Government in the Nordic Countries at a Crossroads (pp. 17–39). Stockholm: Santérus Academic Press.Google Scholar
  26. Poguntke, T., & Webb, P. (Eds.). (2005). The Presidentialization of Politics: A Comparative Study of Modern Democracies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Strøm, K. (2000). Delegation and Accountability in Parliamentary Democracies. European Journal of Political Research, 37(3), 261–289.Google Scholar
  28. Strøm, K. (2003). Parliamentary Democracy and Delegation. In W. C. Müller & T. Bergman (Eds.), Delegation and Accountability in Parliamentary Democracies (pp. 55–106). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Verney, D. V. (1959/1992). Parliamentary Government and Presidential Government. In A. Lijphart (Ed.), Parliamentary Versus Presidential Government (pp. 31–47). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hanna Bäck
    • 1
  • Thomas Persson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceLund UniversityLundSweden

Personalised recommendations