Olof Palme – A Life in Politics

Olof Palme documentary

Olof Palme – A Life in Politics

Directed and Produced by Kelly Candaele


Olof Palme was a visionary and a practicing political leader, an all too unusual combination. I learned about Palme – who was twice elected as Swedish Prime Minister and led the Swedish Social-Democratic Party from 1969 until his assassination in 1986 – when I was in college decades ago.

At the time I was studying European socialist history while also looking for political and economic alternatives to American corporate “free market” capitalism and the Soviet model that had done so much damage to democratic-socialist aspirations.

Olof Palme exemplified the so-called “third way,” of European Social-Democracy, an advocate and builder of a strong welfare state at home, while critical of American and Soviet aggression internationally.

Palme was a Swedish politician with an American twist. He was educated at Kenyon College in Ohio, where he researched the political history of the United Auto Workers, made friends of fellow students and traveled into the south by bus to better understand the diversity of the country. Many commentators in his own county thought he also campaigned like an American politician – aggressively.

After Palme was assassinated in 1986 on the streets of Stockholm, I traveled to Sweden, Berlin and New York to produce a documentary about his life and work. I conducted interviews with his family, political leaders and also political opponents. Included in my film are former German Chancellor Willy Brandt, African National Congress President Oliver Tambo, Palme’s successor as Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson and one time political opponent Henry Kissinger.

Oscar winning actor Paul Newman, who met Palme at Kenyon College while they were both students there, narrates the film.

The documentary has been shown on television throughout the world.