From workers’ groups to suffrage rights

L.O. Smith’s workers’ groups didn’t last long. The groups lacked suitable leaders, and many people were busy with other engagements. Smith wanted the workers to contribute more actively to the groups. At the same time, he felt that he did not have their confidence.

“I have paid over 156,000 SEK from my own pocket to develop the groups, without the least benefit to myself. And I haven’t had any recognition. Consumer associations that are set up to offer workers lower prices have never worked in the long run. They will only work if the workers contribute themselves,” Smith said when the groups were dissolved.

Still, his efforts to set up the workers’ groups had not been all in vain.

Some of his ideas were picked up by the emerging socialist movement. Smith had raised the workers’ consciousness and showed them that they had to organize themselves. In 1909, Sweden changed its constitution and extended the voting rights to include all men. Ten years later, the voting rights were extended again to everyone over the age of 23, including women.