Karl Staaff

Not to be confused with Karl Staaf, Swedish athlete and tug of war competitor who competed at the 1900 Summer Olympics..
Karl Staaff
11th Prime Minister of Sweden
In office
7 November 1905  29 May 1906
(133 days)
Monarch Oscar II
Preceded by Christian Lundeberg
Succeeded by Arvid Lindman
In office
7 October 1911  17 February 1914
(2 years, 133 days)
Monarch Gustaf V
Preceded by Arvid Lindman
Succeeded by Hjalmar Hammarskjöld
Personal details
Born (1860-01-21)21 January 1860
Klara, Stockholm County
Died 4 October 1915(1915-10-04) (aged 55)
Engelbreckt, Stockholm County
Political party Liberal Coalition Party

Karl Albert Staaff (21 January 1860 – 4 October 1915) was a Swedish liberal politician and lawyer. He was chairman of the Liberal Coalition Party (1907–1915) and served twice as Prime Minister of Sweden (1905–1906 and 1911–1914).[1]

Staaff was active in the Swedish movement for universal suffrage, and as the Liberal party's Prime Minister he presided in 1905 over an attempt to introduce universal and equal suffrage for men. His successor as party leader, Nils Edén, eventually managed to carry this further into universal suffrage in 1918–19, including for women. Due to conservative intervention, Staaff's proposal for first past the post was ultimately scrapped for a proportional system. In 1912, the period of leave that women were allowed following a child’s birth was extended to 6 weeks, and in 1913 a tax-financed pension scheme was introduced.[2]

Staaff ran into sharp conflict with the conservative Swedish establishment, and became a hated figure in the Conservative, pro-Monarchic and anti-Democratic establishment. An intense smear campaign was launched against him, picturing him as the destroyer of Swedish tradition and society: wealthy Stockholmers could even buy ash-trays shaped as his head. His staunch anti-military politics created the greatest fundraising in the Swedish history until that time, the 12 M kronor coastal battleship HMS Sverige where the funds where raised in a few months in 1912. Staaff had to bite the lemon, and the ship was ordered.

In 1914 Staaff stepped down from government in protest, after Conservatives had summoned a farmers' demonstration at the Royal castle's court in Stockholm, where King Gustaf V – who according to the law was supposed to stay out of politics – denounced Staaff's defence policies.

The contemporary Swedish Liberal party The Liberals counts him as the first among the more prominent leaders of Swedish 20th century liberalism, followed by such parliamentarians as Nils Edén, Carl Ekman, Nobel Prize laureate Bertil Ohlin, Gunnar Helén, Per Ahlmark and Bengt Westerberg.

Karl Staaffs second cabinet


  1. "Sweden" (in Swedish). World Statesmen. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  2. Foundations of the Welfare State: 2nd Edition by Pat Thane, published 1996
Preceded by
Christian Lundeberg
Prime Minister of Sweden
Succeeded by
Arvid Lindman
Preceded by
Arvid Lindman
Prime Minister of Sweden
Succeeded by
Hjalmar Hammarskjöld
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