Born into an upper-class, conservative family, Olof Palme became Sweden’s unabashedly socialist prime-minister in 1969. During his tenure which lasted 125 months–longest in modern Sweden’s history–he advocated for an alliance of neutral countries to balance against the two super-powers, and he himself worked hard to be neutral international affairs; Palme criticized the US for the Vietnam War and the USSR for the Prague Spring, Franco, Pinochet and apartheid regimes and opened talks with Cuba’s Castro.
In one of the modern tragic farces, Olof Palme was assassinated in 1986. Extremely popular, Palme usually travelled without any bodyguards; on the night of his murder, February 28, he was walking home from a cinema on Sveavagen, Stockholm with his wife, Lisbet (the movie, I stand corrected, was not a documentary, but a comedy about Mozart) while they were shot by an deranged assassin.
The Swedish police didn’t distinguish themselves in the aftermath. Palme was fatally shot at 11:21 pm. It took a taxi-driver to raise the alarm, and two young girls to help the prime minister, who was rushed to hospital, and pronounced dead on arrival at 12:06 am. The police didn’t issue the order to watch the roads until 12:50 am and not closed the airports until fifteen more minutes later. The forensic teams were not called in until much later and even then, two bullets that the assassin shot (a second wounded Lisbet) were handed in by passers-by.
Two years, 300-member investigation team and six million dollar manhunt later, a small-time criminal and drug addict was arrested but it turned out to be a false arrest. Lisbet Palme, who had beforehand been informed that the suspected killer was a drug addict, promptly chose the person who most closely resembled a junkie at the line-up. Olof Palme’s murder remains unsolved; since he made so many enemies abroad by his staunchly neutral policies, many conspiracy theories were put forward.
Palme’s socialist flag-lined funeral