Swedish Leader Tage Erlander

From Times Wire Services

Former Prime Minister Tage Erlander, the jovial and grandfatherly architect of much of Sweden’s extensive social welfare system, died Friday.

Erlander, 84, had been admitted to Huddinge Hospital, south of Stockholm, on June 9, suffering with pneumonia and cardiac insufficiency, his doctors said.

Erlander, a socialist, was named Social Democrat prime minister in 1946 and held office through 1969--longer than any other prime minister.

He pushed through major reforms in education, and made improvements in working hours and vacations, welfare, health insurance and pensions. The measures gave Sweden what is often described as the most elaborate social welfare system in the Western world.


His 23-year tenure was attributed to Swedish satisfaction with the standard of living, once the highest in the world outside the United States.

“Socialism is to me an ideal state of society, characterized by righteousness, equality and solidarity,” Erlander once said. “Those problems which are too great for the private citizen must be solved in cooperation. We must, unhampered by dogmatic ideas of the size of the public sector of society, make sure we can meet the needs of the citizens.”

Erlander bequeathed his post to his closest adviser, Olof Palme, in 1969. Palme ruled until an electoral defeat in 1976, but the Social Democrats regained a majority in 1982.