History of Communism in Europe

Volume 14, 2023

Left-Wing Radical Politics and Emergency Powers in Interwar Europe

Kristina Krake
Pages 19-39

Taming, Not Banning: Scandinavian Containment of the Communists

This article examines the Scandinavian political responses to radical left-wing activism in the interwar period. This is done by combining an anal­ysis of legalistic aspects with rhetoric. Although the Scandinavian countries— Denmark, Sweden and Norway—did not embark on a path of emergency powers to fight a communist enemy, attempts to tame and ban communist parties certainly took place. The article argues that all three countries imposed restrictive legislation to inhibit any kinds of movements, hostile to the demo­cratic system, but also that there were limits to the restrictions. Thus, the parliamentarians decided to criminalize tendencies to political violence, but to tolerate anti-democratic sentiments to be voiced. By addressing the response to subversive movements, the article offers insights into Scandinavian efforts to safeguard democracy in a time of political and social crisis.