to Mr. Bayard.
Stockholm , February 8, 1888. (Received February 25.)
Sir: A new ministry for this Kingdom went into office to-day. The question which has so long disturbed the serenity of political affairs in this country has been temporarily, at least, settled by the formation of a coalition cabinet. Out of the ten ministers forming the council of state, six of the old ministry are retained.
The new ministers are, the prime minister, the ministers of justice, finance, and churches and schools. These four are protectionists.
This result has not been arrived at without infinite trouble, the main cause being the difficulty to find a person suitable for prime minister. Finally Mr. Bildt, the riksmarshal of the Kingdom, and formerly Sweden’s envoy at Berlin, accepted the post. He is a man of capacity, but has reluctantly assumed the duties of the most responsible position in the Government.
The Liberals are of the opinion that it is not possible for a ministry constituted as is the present one to remain in harmony very long, and the Conservatives are not very sanguine of its long duration.
There is no doubt but that a protective policy will be adopted by the present Diet, but in a modified form as compared to what was first proposed. There are already express fears that any considerable tariff charges laid on breadstuffs might cause in Stockholm and other large places demonstrations on the part of the working classes that might result in unpleasant consequences. The rate of wages enables the working people to barely exist, and they do not contemplate the enhancement in price of food supplies without showing very strong signs of discontent.
The new ministry will not have the support of the people, not even their sympathy, in any measure it may bring forward changing the long-established policy of this Kingdom in reference to tariff taxes.
Any electoral appeal to the constituencies would result in the return of a Liberal majority in the Riksdag, and this the new ministry well [Page 1476] know. This perhaps will tend to make their policy more conservative than it might otherwise be. A few weeks will determine the matter.
The King goes to Norway on the 15th, where he has the same question of new cabinet. There is a very determined opposition to the present ministry of that country, at least a part of it, although the King regards the ones against whom the clamor is the loudest as his firmest supporters. He will, however, yield, as he has done in this Kingdom, and a new ministry in Norway with more liberal tendencies will be the result.
I am, etc.,