Mr. Andrews to Mr. Fish.
Stockholm, September 8, 1875. (Received September 29.)
Sir: There is no general day in Sweden for the choice of members of the Riksdag, but the elections occur from time to time, during a period of two or three months, as may suit the convenience of districts. Members of the first chamber are chosen for a period of nine years, and receive no direct pecuniary pay. Members of the second chamber hold for three years, and are paid 1,200 kronor for each annual session. Elections are now taking place for both chambers. Nearly half the members of the second chamber are already chosen, and by the end of this month I shall be able to report the result of the elections for both chambers.
Party lines are not yet drawn with clearness in this country; and no one party seems to be held responsible for the administration of the government. The present government party is the party of the aristocracy and of the cities and towns. Many of its members are large landed proprietors; and it embraces both liberal and highly conservative, if not reactionary, elements. The opposition party is the party of the landholding peasants, yet in it are some titled noblemen, and, though slow and conservative, is on the whole the more progressive of the two.
The present cabinet, though it contains no peasant, is a sort of compromise, and seems to have been formed with a view to conciliate the opposition and bring them over to the King’s wishes on the army question.
The fact that the voting in the Riksdag is by secret ballot and never by ayes and noes, that the parties are geographical and largely one way in their respective localities, and that the elections are scattered along through a whole season, are among the causes direct and remote which render the canvass spiritless and tend to deprive it of any incentive to discussion.
The indications are strong that the opposition party will gain several members in the first chamber, and that it will have a larger majority in the next Riksdag than it had in the last. The leading question which it is expected will occupy the next session, meeting in January, will be the reorganization of the army, and, coupled with that, the abolition of the present system of land-taxation. It appears now as if a compromise measure, if any, will be adopted; that the system of taxation will go out of use after a series of years, and that a less burdensome military system will be accepted than was submitted by the government to the Riksdag at its last session.
The manner in which cabinet changes were made last spring afforded a fresh example of the way that ex-cabinet officers are provided for; and showed also that though there was a change of men, there was not much real change in the politics and policy of the administration. Mr. Carleson, minister of justice, retired to his old position of judge of the supreme court, and was succeeded by Baron De Geer, president of the “Hof Rätt” or superior court. Baron De Geer’s old place was filled by Mr. Berg, who for a long time had been a member of the cabinet, without a portfolio. The retiring minister of finance, Baron Akerhjelm, being wealthy and a member of the Riksdag, did not need a position and received none. He was succeeded by Mr. Hans Forsell, a young [Page 1270] statistical writer of ability, a printer, and who, about a year ago, was made secretary of the State Bank. Mr. Bergstrom, chief of the civil department, exchanged places with Mr. Thyselius, president of a bureau in the department of finance; Mr. Wennerberg, chief of the ecclesiastical department, retired to the office of governor of the province of Wexio, and was succeeded by Mr. Carlson, professor of history, who left the cabinet with Baron De Geer in 1870. The offices to which the ex-ministers were retired are considered life positions.
I have, &c.,