Oscar II. The government (1872-1907) was a period of major societal changes and strong intersections between old and new. Emigration, which began in earnest in the 1860s, culminated in the 1880s. A total of over 1 million Swedes emigrated during the years 1840-1930, most to the United States. Industrialization gained new momentum during the 1870s. thanks to the breakthrough of ferro-steel processes in iron and steel production. In conjunction with the expansion of the railway network, the ingot steel processes enabled the exploitation of new ore deposits, primarily in Norrbotten, and ore exports increased rapidly. From the 1890s, an explosive development took place in the pulp industry. In the engineering industry, successful companies grew on the basis of new inventions (LM Ericsson, ASEA, Bofors, SKF, AGA). The domestic market industries expanded in line with the ongoing modernization and commercialization of agriculture, which broke down the old self-sustaining pattern. As a result of the development of industry and communications, large groups of people were detached from the collective communities they previously belonged to and ended up in new, industrialized environments. There, they rarely found a new community in any of the popular movements – the revival movement, sobriety movement, labor movement or sports movement – which grew strongly in reaction to the old hierarchical society. According to CountryAAH, major public holidays in Sweden include Independence Day (June 6, 2021) and New Year (January 1).
The policy was dominated during the first decades after the representation reform of the tug-of-war between the “gentlemen” in the first chamber and the second chamber dominated by the Lantmann party on defense and basic taxes. Like the King, the First Chamber Majority wanted to create a modern military conscience army by substantially extending the training time of the military. To agree to this, the Lantmanna Party demanded the abolition of “centuries-old injustice”, primarily a relief from the basic tax and subdivision burdens of the peasant land. Because the chambers made contradictory decisions, the defense issue ended in a deadlock. A small step forward was taken through the so-called compromise in 1873, yet another through the 1885 defense decision, which increased the period of military service from 30 to 42 days, while the basic taxes were written off by 30%. A more definitive solution was implemented under the leadership of Prime Minister Erik Gustaf Boström in 1892 in the shadow of the incipient refreshment campaign in Finland and the deteriorating relationship with Norway. The rehearsal period was extended from 42 to 90 days, and the basic taxes and the divisional division would be abolished over a ten-year period. The reform was completed in 1901, when the Swedish defense was completely placed on the basis of the general military duty.
In the 1880s, Sweden was hit by an international agricultural crisis with sharp price cuts in cereals. The grain producers demanded protection duties and were supported by representatives of certain industries, including textile industry. The political dividing line was drawn between customs friends and free traders. The customs battle, which was conducted with seldom seen fierceness, resulted in the abandonment of free trade in favor of a moderate protectionism. The repercussions on the party system became significant. The Lantmanna Party was in 1888–95 split into the free-trade-friendly Old and the Customs-friendly New Landman Party. Customs friendliness usually went along with conservative views on other issues, while free traders tended to take left-wing positions. This gave rise to a new party structure around the turn of the century, which in its main features still exists. The Lantmann party developed into the dominant right-wing party in the second chamber. The free-trade peasants united with like-minded city representatives in the People’s Party, which in 1900 was a member of the Liberal Assembly. The labor movement organized itself politically through the Social Democratic Labor Party (SAP) in 1889 and trade union through the National Organization (LO) in 1898.
Attacks on the Oscar public society came not only from the labor movement but also from the bourgeois cultural radicalism that broke through in the 1880s and among other things. appeared in Strindberg’s socially critical authorship. During the 1890s a cultural conservative renaissance came, but the legacy of eighties life lived on and became a source of inspiration for both the bourgeois and the socialist left.
In the foreign policy field, Oscar II brought 1872’s ascension to the throne a course change away from the traditional friendship with France to an increasingly clear German orientation. The “conversion to Germanism” became noticeable in various areas: economics, science, culture, military. Good relations with Germany were considered to give Sweden-Norway security against a feared Russian expansion towards the ice-free ports on the Atlantic coast. Russian terror reached new heights in the 1890s under the impression of the crushing efforts in Finland and the debate about the so-called sawdust, which on weak grounds were assumed to be disguised Russian officers. Otherwise, the most acute foreign policy problem was the relationship with Norway, which has deteriorated sharply since the 1880s. The Union question also deeply interfered with Swedish domestic policy. Resistance to Norwegian independence requirements was strongest within the right, while liberals and social democrats were prepared to contribute to the smooth settlement of the Union. The dissolution of the union in 1905 meant a victory for the latter position and, in the longer term, also for Nordic cooperation.