Prime Minister Olof Palme, frequently found on the streets of Stockholm chatting with constituents, was one of the most popular politicians to ever serve Sweden -- his government marred only in recent months by a mutiny of naval officers angered by efforts to improve relations with the Soviet Union.
''I was born into the upper class, but I belong to the labor movement,'' he once said. ''I got there by working for the working class on its own terms, by joining the movement working for freedom, equality and fraternity among people.''
The Ohio-educated Palme, who was assassinated Friday night on a sidewalk in the capital, first became prime minister in 1969 when he assumed the reigns of the Social Democrat Party. He was turned out of office in 1976, but won an overwhelming victory six years later and replaced Thorbjorn Falldin as the head of state.
In September 1985, he won a more narrow re-election victory. The close vote -- prompted by a non-socialist coalition demanding tax cuts, reduced spending and the breakup of government monopolies -- weakened his party's representation in the Swedish parliament.
The biggest challenge to his government, however, had come in past months from naval officers who complained he was doing nothing to prevent the intrusion of Soviet submarines into Swedish waters.
The officers alleged that Palme was more interested in warming relations with the Soviets that protecting Swedish security. Some suggested the problem was so acute that Sweden should join NATO -- ending its long tradition of strict neutrality.
In 1984, Palme convened a European disarmament conference in Sweden, calling for an East-West dialogue and denounced the nuclear race ''as if the dream of absolute security against attack could be fulfilled through a further buildup of arms.''
In 1982, he called on NATO and the Warsaw Pact to establish a nuclear-free zone. The Soviets responded with a proposal for a nuclear-free zone in Central Europe.
During the years Palme was out of office he was especially involved in international politics.
As a special United Nations Envoy, Palme attempted to find a solution to the Iran-Iraq war in the early stages of the bloody conflict, holding meetings with Iraqi and Iranian officials.
In 1981, after visiting Baghdad and Tehran, he observed, ''I find that both parties are interested in continuing to see whether one could find a peaceful process to end the war.''
But one year later, Palme, on his fifth visit to the warring capitals, said that he ''had exhausted all possibilities to mediate the war. There is no way to get any further as long as the political will to make peace is missing."
In May 1980, Palme joined Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky and Spanish socialist leader Felipe Gonzalez in a three-man Socialist International mission to Tehran to seek a solution to the U.S.-Iran crisis.
The effort appeared fruitless, but the trip to Iran resulted in visit by Iran's Foreign Minister Sadegh Ghotbzadeh to Oslo where he attended a meeting of Socialist International.
A supporter of the Third World in its battles with industrialized nations, Palme is said to have his eye on becoming the next Secretary General of the United Nations.
Palme was a member of the Brandt Commission which studied ways of narrowing the gap between rich and poor nations.
He chaired the Palme Commission, an international group studying ways to get stalled disarmament talks started again.
Palme entered the Swedish Paliament in 1956 and served in a variety of cabinet posts. He was prime minister from 1969 to 1976 when his defeat ended 44-years of socialist rule in Sweden.
He was an outspoken critic of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War and in 1968 took part in an anti-war demonstration in Stockholm with the North Vietnamese ambassador to Sweden.
The act led to a call for his resignation from Parliament.
He once likened former President Nixon's 1972 order for the bombing of Hanoi to acts committed by Adolf Hitler.
He was born into a Baltic noble family but was proud of his involvement with the working class.
Palme, who spoke fluent English, German and French, was educated at Ohio's Kenyon College and at the University of Stockholm.
He married a child psychologist, Lisbeth Beck Friis, in 1956. They had three sons.