The Kingdom of Sweden had a limited vote for women between 1718 and 1772, during the Age of Liberty, which was based on the 1719 Instruments of Government. This was only the case in two of the four Estates of Riksdag (the Burghers and Peasants). After the re-establishment of absolutism in 1772, the 1719 Instruments of Government were superseded until Gustav IV Adolf was overthrown in 1809. When the 1809 Instruments of Government were implemented, these no longer included a mention to female suffrage in any of the estates. Was the question of women's suffrage debated (by the people who drafted the 1809 Instruments of Government) in the drawing up of the 1809 Instruments of Government, and, if so, what arguments were used?

Other sources specify that the burghers took away their women's right to vote in 1771 while the peasantry confirmed theirs (primarily because they emphasised the ownership of property over gender):

In 1771, the burger estate decided to exclude 'burger widows' from voting as for members of the estate. ... the estate of peasantry had to decide whether women should be allowed to vote in Riksdag elections. It is interesting in this context to compare the different decisions of the burgher estate with those of the peasant estate. At the same Riksdag meeting in 1771, the estate of peasantry decided that farm-owning widows 'could not be refused permission to participate in the election'.

—Simonton, 'The Routledge History Handbook of Gender and the Urban Experience'

But that ended with the return of absolutism (much like my preview of that book which stopped with Gustav III's coup d'état and continues in the 1840's so it doesn't answer my question). I've also not seen this question answered in the WP links or other books which primarily only mention the period between 1719 and 1772 that the limited women's vote existed in.

  • 3
    I'm curious as how this is opinion-based. Voting to close for this seems unreasonable, as does the down vote - the OP has demonstrated research and provided sources. Jun 3, 2020 at 13:27
  • 1
    I'd be more than happy to make this less-opinionated! I was trying to avert the problems we've had recently, emphasising I am looking for whether "the people who drafted the document" discussed this which should be provable by documentation (e.g., transcripts of Riksdag meetings, etc), but I guess I didn't go far enough.
    – gktscrk
    Jun 3, 2020 at 13:27
  • Agreed; this seems like a standard request in history - are there records of this type. I don't know anything about the period; what are the primary sources for the 1809 draft?
    – MCW
    Jun 3, 2020 at 14:23
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    @MarkC.Wallace: I would hope the Swedes have something!
    – gktscrk
    Jun 3, 2020 at 15:09

1 Answer 1


This isn't much of an answer, but maybe a helpful lead for further research if you can read Swedish. The following is from the book Suffrage, Gender and Citizenship – International Perspectives on Parliamentary Reforms:

A proposal for a new constitution was rapidly produced, and a new governmental organisation was approved by the Riksdag on June 6 [in 1809]. It gave the Riksdag greater authority, which in turn entailed that more issues requiring solutions could also be discussed there, for example female policy issues and issues concerning citizenship and representation. It was also in the Riksdag of 1809-10 that proposals were made to replace the old Diet of Estates with a two-chamber parliament. Thereby, the issue of changing the basis of representation was placed on the political agenda.

The footnote on this passage points to multiple books in Swedish as follows.

fn1 enter image description here

  • Thanks! This is a sort-of-an-answer, indicating that the matter was debated. I'm afraid I can't read Swedish, but at least this should mean that there's something to be found here.
    – gktscrk
    Jun 3, 2020 at 15:19
  • This at least shouldn't have been downvoted, especially without a comment.
    – Spencer
    Jun 3, 2020 at 15:50

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