History Hans Högman
Copyright © Hans Högman 2016-12-24

The Parliamentary System of Sweden

The Parliamentary System

Countries with parliamentary systems may be constitutional monarchies, where a monarch is the ceremonial head of state while the head of government is almost always a member of the legislature (such as the United Kingdom, Sweden and Japan), or parliamentary republics, where a mostly ceremonial president is the head of state while the head of government is regularly from the legislature (such as Ireland, Germany, India and Italy). The modern concept of prime ministerial government originated in the Kingdom of Great Britain (1707–1800) and its contemporary, the Parliamentary System in Sweden (1721–1772). Some West European countries' parliaments (e.g. in the Netherlands and Sweden) implement the principle of dualism as a form of separation of powers. In countries using this system, Members of Parliament have to resign their place in Parliament upon being appointed (or elected) minister. Ministers in those countries usually actively participate in parliamentary debates, but are not entitled to vote.

The Kingdom of Sweden - A Monarchy

Head of State

Sweden is a monarchy with a Monarch as head of state. The title is inheritable and it is the first born child of the royal family who inherits the throne. King Carl XVI Gustaf, who acceded to the throne in 1973, is the 74th King of Sweden and belongs to the Bernadotte dynasty, which has ruled Sweden since 1818. As Sweden is a representative democracy in a parliamentary system based on popular sovereignty, as defined in the current Instrument of Government, the Monarch has a purely ceremonial role, though officially he or she is explicitly designated as head of state and holds the highest state office in the country, and by courtesy the highest military and social ranks. The Monarch and the members of Swedish Royal Family undertake a variety of official, ceremonial and representational duties on behalf of the nation. The image to the right shows the coat of arms for the Monarch of Sweden (Head of State). Free image Wikipedia. The Stockholm Palace or the Royal Palace is the official residence and major royal palace of the Swedish monarch. The offices of the King, the other members of the Swedish Royal Family, and the offices of the Royal Court of Sweden are located here. The palace is used for representative purposes by the King whilst performing his duties as the head of state. The Drottningholm Palace is the private residence of the Swedish royal family.
Stockholm Palace / the Royal Palace, the official residence of the Swedish monarch. Free image Wikipedia.
Drottningholm Palace in the vicinity Stockholm. The private residence of the Swedish royal family. Free image Wikipedia.

The Swedish Parliament

The Riksdag (the Swedish Parliament) is the national legislature and the supreme decision-making body of Sweden. The seat of the Riksdag is at Parliament House (Riksdagshuset) in Helgeandsholmen in the central section of Stockholm. Since 1971 the Riksdag has been a unicameral legislature with 349 members, elected proportionally and serving on fixed four-year terms. The constitutional functions of the Riksdag are enumerated in the Instrument of Government (Regeringsformen), and its internal workings are specified in greater detail in the Riksdag Act (Riksdagsordningen). Between 1866 and 1970 Sweden had a bicameral legislature with an upper chamber (Första Kammaren) and a lower chamber (Andra Kammaren). The image to the right shows the coat of arms for the Government of Sweden. Free image Wikipedia. Rosenbad is the Swedish Prime Minister's Office and the Government Chancellery. It is located close to the Sager House (Sagerska huset), the official residence of the Prime Minister. Harpsund is a manor house located in Södermanland County and the country residence for the Prime Minister of Sweden. The oldest parts of the mansion are from the 17th century, but the main building was built in 1914.
The Parliament House (Riksdagshuset), Stockholm, Sweden. Free image Wikipedia.
Rosenbad, Stockholm. Sweden's Prime Minister's Office and the Government Chancellery. Free image Wikipedia.
The Sager House, Stockholm. The official residence of the Prime Minister of Sweden. Free image Wikipedia.
Harpsund Manor in Södermanland County. The country residence of the Prime Minister of Sweden. Free image Wikipedia.

Three levels of political administration

There are three levels of political administration in Sweden: 1. The National Government (Regering) 2. Regional level – County Council (Landsting ) 3. Local level - Municipal Assembly (Kommun)

National Government

The Prime Minister, the head of government, is titled Statsminister in Sweden. The Government of the Kingdom of Sweden is the national cabinet and the supreme executive authority in Sweden. The Government operates as a collegial body with collective responsibility and consists of the Prime Minister — appointed and dismissed by the Speaker of the Riksdag (following an actual vote in the Riksdag before an appointment can be made) — and other cabinet ministers, appointed and dismissed at the sole discretion of the Prime Minister.

Regional Government

Län Sweden is divided into a number of Län (counties) for regional government and administration. The Counties of Sweden are the first level administrative and political administration. In each county there is a County Administrative Board (Länsstyrelse) headed by a County Governor (Landshövding) as well as a regional municipality (Landsting) and several other government organizations. The term of a County Governor is six years. The County Administrative Board (Länstyrelse) is appointed by the Government to coordinate administration with national political goals for the county. The Capital of a county is in Swedish called Residensstad ("Residence City") because it is the seat of residence of the Governor. The Landsting on the other hand is a regional government, elected to deliberate on the municipal affairs of the county. Landsting A Landsting is run by a County Council, in Swedish Landstingsfullmäktige, which is an elected assembly of a regional municipality (Landsting or Region). The Landstings share the same border lines as the government run county (Län) in Sweden. Constitutionally the county councils exercise a degree of municipal self-government provided for in the Constitution of Sweden. This does not constitute any degree of federalism, which is consistent with Sweden's status as a unitary state. Typically, the Landsting's main responsibilities lie within: The public health care system including dental care Public transportation Regional planning Administration of regional government arts and cultural amenities
Stockholm County Council House (Landstingshuset), Kungsholmen, Stockholm. The Government offices of Stockholm County (Stockholms Läns Landsting), a regional municipal body corresponding to the territory of Stockholm County. Free image Wikipedia.

Local Government - Kommun

In each county there are also several smaller entities for the local government and administration that constitute municipal self- government, which are independent of the county councils. It is called a "primary municipality" or more plainly "Municipality" or Kommun, whereas the regional Landsting are secondary municipalities. The municipalities of Sweden (Kommun) are its lower-level local government entities. The municipal governments are responsible for a large proportion of local services, including schools, emergency services and physical planning. Municipal government in Sweden is similar to city commission government and cabinet-style council government. A legislative municipal assembly (Kommunfullmäktige) of between 31 and 101 members (always an uneven number) is elected from party-list proportional representation at municipal elections, held every four years in conjunction with the national general elections. The assembly in turn appoints a municipal executive committee (Kommunstyrelse) from its members. The executive committee is headed by its chairman, (Swedish: Kommunstyrelsens ordförande). As the title Borgmästare (Mayor or Burgomaster) is not officially used in Swedish municipalities anymore, municipal commissioner is often translated as mayor when referring to the chair of the executive committee. The Kommun is the lowest level of administration and the kommun is named after the town/city where the kommun seat is located. A rural kommun might have several towns within its boundaries. According to law, the municipalities are responsible for: Childcare and pre-schools Primary and secondary schools Social service Elderly care Support to people with disabilities Health and environmental issues Emergency services (not policing, which is the responsibility of the national government) Urban planning Sanitation (waste, sewage)
Stockholm City Hall (Stadshuset), Kungsholmen, Stockholm. The building of the Municipal Council for the City of Stockholm.  It stands on the eastern tip of Kungsholmen island in central Stockholm. It is the venue of the Nobel Prize banquet and is one of Stockholm's major tourist attractions. Free image Wikipedia.

Elections in Sweden

Elections to determine the makeup of the legislative bodies on the three levels of administrative division in the Kingdom of Sweden are held once every four years. At the highest level, these elections determine the allocation of seats in the Riksdag, the national legislative body of Sweden. Elections to the 21 county councils (Landsting) and 290 municipal assemblies (Kommunfullmäktige) – all using roughly the same electoral system – are held concurrently with the legislative elections on the second Sunday in September. Eligible to vote and stand for elections are Swedish Citizens who turn 18 years old no later than on the day of the election.

Riksdalsval – Riksdag Elections

Since 1971 the Riksdag has been a unicameral legislature with 349 members (Swedish: Riksdagsledamöter), elected proportionally and serving, from 1994 onwards, on fixed four-year terms. In Sweden the seats of the Riksdag are allocated to the parties, and the prospective members are selected by their party. The electoral system in Sweden is proportional. Of the 349 seats in the unicameral Riksdag, 310 are fixed constituency seats allocated to constituencies in relation to the number of people entitled to vote in each constituency. The remaining 39 adjustment seats are used to correct the deviations from proportional national distribution that may arise when allocating the fixed constituency seats. There is a constraint in the system that means that only a party that has received at least 4 % of the votes in the whole country participates in the distribution of seats. However, a party that has received at least 12 % of the votes in a constituency participates in the distribution of the fixed constituency seats in that constituency. After the 2014 general election Sweden’s 349 seats in the Parliament (Riksdag) were allocated to 8 political parties.

Local and Regional elections

Elections to Sweden's County Councils occur simultaneously with the general elections on the second Sunday of September. Elections to the municipal assemblies also occur on the second Sunday of September.

Voting

Unlike in many countries where voters chose from a list of candidates or parties, each party in Sweden has separate ballot papers. The ballot papers must be identical in size and material, and have different colors depending on the type of election: yellow for Riksdag elections, blue for county council elections and white for municipal elections.

European Parliament

Elections to the European Parliament occur every five years in June throughout the entire European Union.

The Presidium

The Speaker of the Riksdag (Riksdagens talman) is the presiding officer of the national unicameral legislature in Sweden. The presidium consists of a Speaker and three Deputy Speakers. They are elected for a 4-years term. The speaker is elected by the chamber as the first order of business when the Riksdag re-convenes following a general election. As such he coordinates the work that takes place in the Riksdag. The speaker is assisted by three deputy speakers who are also elected by the chamber. Traditionally, the second, third and fourth largest parties gets to name one of their members for these offices. The speaker does not take part in the debates, nor does he participate in the parliamentary committees. While the Speaker is one of the elected representatives of the Riksdag, he is expected to remain unbiased and objective with regards to the political issues that are debated. The speaker has no vote in the Riksdag, but the incumbent could use his vote as a member of the Riksdag if a tie appears. The position of speaker is the second highest ranked public position in Sweden. In terms of protocol, the Monarch outranks the speaker since he is the head of state. The Speaker outranks the Prime Minister of Sweden.

Recent Speakers of the Parliament:

See Wikipedia for all the Speakers (Swedish) or Speakers (English).

Forming the Government

One of the more important aspects of the work of the Speaker is to head the negotiations concerning the forming of a new government in case there is a shift of power after an election. After holding talks with leaders of the various party groups in the Riksdag, the Speaker of the Riksdag nominates a Prime Minister (Statsminister), normally the Party Chairman of the largest political party in the Riksdag after the election. The nomination is then put to a vote. The nomination is rejected (meaning the Speaker must find a new nominee) only if an absolute majority of the members (175 members) vote "no"; otherwise, it is confirmed. This means the Riksdag can consent to a Prime Minister without casting any "yes" votes. After being elected the Prime Minister appoints his own cabinet ministers, forming the Government (Regeringen), without the involvement of the Speaker. The new Government takes office at a special council held at the Royal Palace before the Monarch, at which the Speaker of the Riksdag formally announces to the Monarch that the Riksdag has elected a new Prime Minister and that the Prime Minister has chosen his cabinet ministers. Political parties are strong in Sweden, with members of the Riksdag usually supporting their parties in parliamentary votes. No single party has won an outright majority in the Riksdag since 1968. Political parties with similar agendas consequently cooperate on several issues, forming coalition governments or other formalized alliances.

The Government

The Government of Sweden is the national cabinet and the supreme executive authority in Sweden. The Government operates as a collegial body with collective responsibility and consists of the Prime Minister — appointed and dismissed by the Speaker of the Riksdag (following an actual vote in the Riksdag before an appointment can be made) — and other cabinet ministers, appointed and dismissed at the sole discretion of the Prime Minister. Most state administrative authorities’ sorts under the Government, including the Armed Forces, Coast Guard, Customs Service and the Swedish Police. While the Judiciary technically sort under the Government in the fiscal sense, the Instrument of Government provides safeguards to ensure its independence. In a unique feature of the Swedish constitutional system, individual cabinet ministers do not bear any individual ministerial responsibility for the performance of the agencies within their portfolio; as the director-generals and other heads of government agencies reports directly to the Government as a whole; and individual ministers are prohibited to interfere (thus the origin of the pejorative (in Swedish political parlance) term "ministerstyre" (English: "ministerial rule") in matters that are to be handled by the individual agencies, unless otherwise specifically provided for in law.

Recent Prime Ministers

The Prime Minister is the head of government in Sweden.
See Wikipedia for all the Swedish Prime Ministers (Swedish) or Swedish Prime Ministers (English).

The Incumbent Cabinet Ministers

A selection of the Incumbent Cabinet Ministers in Sweden as of December 2016. Ministerial posts Names Prime Minister Stefan Löfven Deputy Prime Minister Isabella Lövin Minister for Justice and Migration Morgan Johansson Minister for Home Affairs Anders Ygeman Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström Minister for Defence Peter Hultqvist Minister for Finance Magdalena Andersson Minister for Education Gustav Fridolin Minister for the Climate and the Environment Isabella Lövin

Sweden's Political Parties

No single party has won an outright majority in the Riksdag since 1968. Political parties with similar agendas consequently cooperate on several issues, forming coalition governments or other formalized alliances. Currently, two major blocs exist in parliament, the socialist/Red-Greens and the conservative/liberal Alliance for Sweden. The latter—consisting of the Moderate Party, Liberals, Centre Party, and Christian Democrats—governed Sweden from 2006 through most of 2014 (after 2010 through a minority government). The Sweden Democrats, an extreme right wing party, is not a member of either bloc.

The 2014 Election

The 2014 election was held on September 14. No party won an absolute majority but the center-left coalition led by the Social Democrats became the largest political grouping. On 2 October 2014, the Riksdag approved Löfven to become the country's Prime Minister, and he took office on 3 October 2014 alongside his Cabinet. The present cabinet is a minority coalition with the Social Democrats and the Greens (in red in the chart below). Prime Minister is Stefan Löfven, the Social Democratic party leader.

The political parties in the Parliament according to the 2014 Election

(1) Percentage of the votes received in the 2014 general election. The two political parties marked in red above are the two parties in the coalition government.

The Constitution of Sweden

Every democratic nation has a set of fundamental rules governing their politics of the nation. These set of rules state how the country shall be governed, for example, the relationship between the legislative and executive authorities, and sets out the freedoms and rights of the citizens. These rules are generally known as the Constitution. The Swedish constitution consists of four fundamental laws (Swedish: Grundlagen):  Sweden's four fundamental (constitutional) laws: 1. The Instrument of Government - Regeringsformen 2. The Act of Succession - Successionsordningen 3. The Freedom of the Press Act - Tryckfrihetsförordningen 4. The Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression - Yttrandefrihetsgrundlagen There is also a law on the internal organization and procedures of the Riksdag with a special status, although not regarded as a fundamental law, it requires the same amendment procedure as the fundamental laws except that it does not allow for an amendment referendum. The Riksdag Act contains detailed provisions regulating the business of the Riksdag. The Riksdag Act - Riksdagsordningen When a new fundamental law is to be passed or amendments are to be made, special provisions apply. To amend a fundamental law, the Riksdag must approve identically worded proposals on two separate occasions with a parliamentary election in between.

Parliamentary Control

An important task of the Riksdag is to scrutinize and control the Government and the public administration. This is called the Power of Parliamentary Control. The rules regulating this controlling power are stated in one of the fundamental laws, the Instrument of Government. The Riksdag has five instruments of parliamentary control: Scrutiny of the Government by the Committee of the Constitution (Konstitutionsutskottet) Motion of No Confidence – a submission of a motion that a minister no longer has the confidence of the Riksdag (Misstroendeförklaring) Interpellations and questions to ministers by members of the Riksdag. To Interpellate is to interrupt a parliamentary debate by asking a question of some aspect of government policy. The interpellation is a more formal way of getting answerers from cabinet ministers than an ordinary parliamentary question. The Parliamentary Auditors The Parliamentary Ombudsmen (Justitieombudsmannen, JO) The last two instruments of parliamentary control can also be used by the public to scrutinize the Government.

For the American Readers

The Swedish Län (County) has a role more similar to the US State compared to the role of the US County. However, the Swedish counties don’t have the independence of the US States. The US County is better compared to the Swedish “Kommun” (Municipality) rather than to the Swedish Län (County). The US term consolidated city-county probably best describes the Kommun.

Related Links

The History of the Riksdag Facts about Sweden The subdivisions of Sweden

Source References

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History Hans Högman
Copyright © Hans Högman 2016-12-24

The Parliamentary

System of Sweden

The Parliamentary System

Countries with parliamentary systems may be constitutional monarchies, where a monarch is the ceremonial head of state while the head of government is almost always a member of the legislature (such as the United Kingdom, Sweden and Japan), or parliamentary republics, where a mostly ceremonial president is the head of state while the head of government is regularly from the legislature (such as Ireland, Germany, India and Italy). The modern concept of prime ministerial government originated in the Kingdom of Great Britain (1707–1800) and its contemporary, the Parliamentary System in Sweden (1721–1772). Some West European countries' parliaments (e.g. in the Netherlands and Sweden) implement the principle of dualism as a form of separation of powers. In countries using this system, Members of Parliament have to resign their place in Parliament upon being appointed (or elected) minister. Ministers in those countries usually actively participate in parliamentary debates, but are not entitled to vote.

The Kingdom of Sweden - A

Monarchy

Head of State

Sweden is a monarchy with a Monarch as head of state. The title is inheritable and it is the first born child of the royal family who inherits the throne. King Carl XVI Gustaf, who acceded to the throne in 1973, is the 74th King of Sweden and belongs to the Bernadotte dynasty, which has ruled Sweden since 1818. As Sweden is a representative democracy in a parliamentary system based on popular sovereignty, as defined in the current Instrument of Government, the Monarch has a purely ceremonial role, though officially he or she is explicitly designated as head of state and holds the highest state office in the country, and by courtesy the highest military and social ranks. The Monarch and the members of Swedish Royal Family undertake a variety of official, ceremonial and representational duties on behalf of the nation. The image to the right shows the coat of arms for the Monarch of Sweden (Head of State). Free image Wikipedia. The Stockholm Palace or the Royal Palace is the official residence and major royal palace of the Swedish monarch. The offices of the King, the other members of the Swedish Royal Family, and the offices of the Royal Court of Sweden are located here. The palace is used for representative purposes by the King whilst performing his duties as the head of state. The Drottningholm Palace is the private residence of the Swedish royal family.
Stockholm Palace / the Royal Palace, the official residence of the Swedish monarch. Free image Wikipedia.
Drottningholm Palace in the vicinity Stockholm. The private residence of the Swedish royal family. Free image Wikipedia.

The Swedish Parliament

The Riksdag (the Swedish Parliament) is the national legislature and the supreme decision-making body of Sweden. The seat of the Riksdag is at Parliament House (Riksdagshuset) in Helgeandsholmen in the central section of Stockholm. Since 1971 the Riksdag has been a unicameral legislature with 349 members, elected proportionally and serving on fixed four-year terms. The constitutional functions of the Riksdag are enumerated in the Instrument of Government (Regeringsformen), and its internal workings are specified in greater detail in the Riksdag Act (Riksdagsordningen). Between 1866 and 1970 Sweden had a bicameral legislature with an upper chamber (Första Kammaren) and a lower chamber (Andra Kammaren). The image to the right shows the coat of arms for the Government of Sweden. Free image Wikipedia. Rosenbad is the Swedish Prime Minister's Office and the Government Chancellery. It is located close to the Sager House (Sagerska huset), the official residence of the Prime Minister. Harpsund is a manor house located in Södermanland County and the country residence for the Prime Minister of Sweden. The oldest parts of the mansion are from the 17th century, but the main building was built in 1914.
The Parliament House (Riksdagshuset), Stockholm, Sweden. Free image Wikipedia.
Rosenbad, Stockholm. Sweden's Prime Minister's Office and the Government Chancellery. Free image Wikipedia.
The Sager House, Stockholm. The official residence of the Prime Minister of Sweden. Free image Wikipedia.
Harpsund Manor in Södermanland County. The country residence of the Prime Minister of Sweden. Free image Wikipedia.
Stockholm County Council House (Landstingshuset), Kungsholmen, Stockholm. The Government offices of Stockholm County (Stockholms Läns Landsting), a regional municipal body corresponding to the territory of Stockholm County. Free image Wikipedia.

Three levels of political

administration

There are three levels of political administration in Sweden: 1. The National Government (Regering) 2. Regional level – County Council (Landsting ) 3. Local level - Municipal Assembly (Kommun)

National Government

The Prime Minister, the head of government, is titled Statsminister in Sweden. The Government of the Kingdom of Sweden is the national cabinet and the supreme executive authority in Sweden. The Government operates as a collegial body with collective responsibility and consists of the Prime Minister — appointed and dismissed by the Speaker of the Riksdag (following an actual vote in the Riksdag before an appointment can be made) — and other cabinet ministers, appointed and dismissed at the sole discretion of the Prime Minister.

Regional Government

Län Sweden is divided into a number of Län (counties) for regional government and administration. The Counties of Sweden are the first level administrative and political administration. In each county there is a County Administrative Board (Länsstyrelse) headed by a County Governor (Landshövding) as well as a regional municipality (Landsting) and several other government organizations. The term of a County Governor is six years. The County Administrative Board (Länstyrelse) is appointed by the Government to coordinate administration with national political goals for the county. The Capital of a county is in Swedish called Residensstad ("Residence City") because it is the seat of residence of the Governor. The Landsting on the other hand is a regional government, elected to deliberate on the municipal affairs of the county. Landsting A Landsting is run by a County Council, in Swedish Landstingsfullmäktige, which is an elected assembly of a regional municipality (Landsting or Region). The Landstings share the same border lines as the government run county (Län) in Sweden. Constitutionally the county councils exercise a degree of municipal self-government provided for in the Constitution of Sweden. This does not constitute any degree of federalism, which is consistent with Sweden's status as a unitary state. Typically, the Landsting's main responsibilities lie within: The public health care system including dental care Public transportation Regional planning Administration of regional government arts and cultural amenities

Local Government - Kommun

In each county there are also several smaller entities for the local government and administration that constitute municipal self-government, which are independent of the county councils. It is called a "primary municipality" or more plainly "Municipality" or Kommun, whereas the regional Landsting are secondary municipalities. The municipalities of Sweden (Kommun) are its lower-level local government entities. The municipal governments are responsible for a large proportion of local services, including schools, emergency services and physical planning. Municipal government in Sweden is similar to city commission government and cabinet-style council government. A legislative municipal assembly (Kommunfullmäktige) of between 31 and 101 members (always an uneven number) is elected from party-list proportional representation at municipal elections, held every four years in conjunction with the national general elections. The assembly in turn appoints a municipal executive committee (Kommunstyrelse) from its members. The executive committee is headed by its chairman, (Swedish: Kommunstyrelsens ordförande). As the title Borgmästare (Mayor or Burgomaster) is not officially used in Swedish municipalities anymore, municipal commissioner is often translated as mayor when referring to the chair of the executive committee. The Kommun is the lowest level of administration and the kommun is named after the town/city where the kommun seat is located. A rural kommun might have several towns within its boundaries. According to law, the municipalities are responsible for: Childcare and pre-schools Primary and secondary schools Social service Elderly care Support to people with disabilities Health and environmental issues Emergency services (not policing, which is the responsibility of the national government) Urban planning Sanitation (waste, sewage)
Stockholm City Hall (Stadshuset), Kungsholmen, Stockholm. The building of the Municipal Council for the City of Stockholm.  It stands on the eastern tip of Kungsholmen island in central Stockholm. It is the venue of the Nobel Prize banquet and is one of Stockholm's major tourist attractions. Free image Wikipedia.

Elections in Sweden

Elections to determine the makeup of the legislative bodies on the three levels of administrative division in the Kingdom of Sweden are held once every four years. At the highest level, these elections determine the allocation of seats in the Riksdag, the national legislative body of Sweden. Elections to the 21 county councils (Landsting) and 290 municipal assemblies (Kommunfullmäktige) – all using roughly the same electoral system – are held concurrently with the legislative elections on the second Sunday in September. Eligible to vote and stand for elections are Swedish Citizens who turn 18 years old no later than on the day of the election.

Riksdalsval – Riksdag Elections

Since 1971 the Riksdag has been a unicameral legislature with 349 members (Swedish: Riksdagsledamöter), elected proportionally and serving, from 1994 onwards, on fixed four-year terms. In Sweden the seats of the Riksdag are allocated to the parties, and the prospective members are selected by their party. The electoral system in Sweden is proportional. Of the 349 seats in the unicameral Riksdag, 310 are fixed constituency seats allocated to constituencies in relation to the number of people entitled to vote in each constituency. The remaining 39 adjustment seats are used to correct the deviations from proportional national distribution that may arise when allocating the fixed constituency seats. There is a constraint in the system that means that only a party that has received at least 4 % of the votes in the whole country participates in the distribution of seats. However, a party that has received at least 12 % of the votes in a constituency participates in the distribution of the fixed constituency seats in that constituency. After the 2014 general election Sweden’s 349 seats in the Parliament (Riksdag) were allocated to 8 political parties.

Local and Regional elections

Elections to Sweden's County Councils occur simultaneously with the general elections on the second Sunday of September. Elections to the municipal assemblies also occur on the second Sunday of September.

Voting

Unlike in many countries where voters chose from a list of candidates or parties, each party in Sweden has separate ballot papers. The ballot papers must be identical in size and material, and have different colors depending on the type of election: yellow for Riksdag elections, blue for county council elections and white for municipal elections.

European Parliament

Elections to the European Parliament occur every five years in June throughout the entire European Union.

The Presidium

The Speaker of the Riksdag (Riksdagens talman) is the presiding officer of the national unicameral legislature in Sweden. The presidium consists of a Speaker and three Deputy Speakers. They are elected for a 4-years term. The speaker is elected by the chamber as the first order of business when the Riksdag re-convenes following a general election. As such he coordinates the work that takes place in the Riksdag. The speaker is assisted by three deputy speakers who are also elected by the chamber. Traditionally, the second, third and fourth largest parties gets to name one of their members for these offices. The speaker does not take part in the debates, nor does he participate in the parliamentary committees. While the Speaker is one of the elected representatives of the Riksdag, he is expected to remain unbiased and objective with regards to the political issues that are debated. The speaker has no vote in the Riksdag, but the incumbent could use his vote as a member of the Riksdag if a tie appears. The position of speaker is the second highest ranked public position in Sweden. In terms of protocol, the Monarch outranks the speaker since he is the head of state. The Speaker outranks the Prime Minister of Sweden.

Recent Speakers of the Parliament:

See Wikipedia for all the Speakers (Swedish) or Speakers (English).

Forming the Government

One of the more important aspects of the work of the Speaker is to head the negotiations concerning the forming of a new government in case there is a shift of power after an election. After holding talks with leaders of the various party groups in the Riksdag, the Speaker of the Riksdag nominates a Prime Minister (Statsminister), normally the Party Chairman of the largest political party in the Riksdag after the election. The nomination is then put to a vote. The nomination is rejected (meaning the Speaker must find a new nominee) only if an absolute majority of the members (175 members) vote "no"; otherwise, it is confirmed. This means the Riksdag can consent to a Prime Minister without casting any "yes" votes. After being elected the Prime Minister appoints his own cabinet ministers, forming the Government (Regeringen), without the involvement of the Speaker. The new Government takes office at a special council held at the Royal Palace before the Monarch, at which the Speaker of the Riksdag formally announces to the Monarch that the Riksdag has elected a new Prime Minister and that the Prime Minister has chosen his cabinet ministers. Political parties are strong in Sweden, with members of the Riksdag usually supporting their parties in parliamentary votes. No single party has won an outright majority in the Riksdag since 1968. Political parties with similar agendas consequently cooperate on several issues, forming coalition governments or other formalized alliances.

The Government

The Government of Sweden is the national cabinet and the supreme executive authority in Sweden. The Government operates as a collegial body with collective responsibility and consists of the Prime Minister — appointed and dismissed by the Speaker of the Riksdag (following an actual vote in the Riksdag before an appointment can be made) — and other cabinet ministers, appointed and dismissed at the sole discretion of the Prime Minister. Most state administrative authorities’ sorts under the Government, including the Armed Forces, Coast Guard, Customs Service and the Swedish Police. While the Judiciary technically sort under the Government in the fiscal sense, the Instrument of Government provides safeguards to ensure its independence. In a unique feature of the Swedish constitutional system, individual cabinet ministers do not bear any individual ministerial responsibility for the performance of the agencies within their portfolio; as the director-generals and other heads of government agencies reports directly to the Government as a whole; and individual ministers are prohibited to interfere (thus the origin of the pejorative (in Swedish political parlance) term "ministerstyre" (English: "ministerial rule") in matters that are to be handled by the individual agencies, unless otherwise specifically provided for in law.

Recent Prime Ministers

The Prime Minister is the head of government in Sweden.
See Wikipedia for all the Swedish Prime Ministers  (Swedish) or Swedish Prime Ministers (English).

The Incumbent Cabinet Ministers

A selection of the Incumbent Cabinet Ministers in Sweden as of December 2016. Ministerial posts Names Prime Minister Stefan Löfven Deputy Prime Minister Isabella Lövin Minister for Justice and Migration Morgan Johansson Minister for Home Affairs Anders Ygeman Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström Minister for Defence Peter Hultqvist Minister for Finance Magdalena Andersson Minister for Education Gustav Fridolin Minister for the Climate and the Environment Isabella Lövin

Sweden's Political Parties

No single party has won an outright majority in the Riksdag since 1968. Political parties with similar agendas consequently cooperate on several issues, forming coalition governments or other formalized alliances. Currently, two major blocs exist in parliament, the socialist/Red-Greens and the conservative/liberal Alliance for Sweden. The latter—consisting of the Moderate Party, Liberals, Centre Party, and Christian Democrats—governed Sweden from 2006 through most of 2014 (after 2010 through a minority government). The Sweden Democrats, an extreme right wing party, is not a member of either bloc.

The 2014 Election

The 2014 election was held on September 14. No party won an absolute majority but the center-left coalition led by the Social Democrats became the largest political grouping. On 2 October 2014, the Riksdag approved Löfven to become the country's Prime Minister, and he took office on 3 October 2014 alongside his Cabinet. The present cabinet is a minority coalition with the Social Democrats and the Greens (in red in the chart below). Prime Minister is Stefan Löfven, the Social Democratic party leader.

The political parties in the Parliament

according to the 2014 Election

(1) Percentage of the votes received in the 2014 general election. The two political parties marked in red above are the two parties in the coalition government.

The Constitution of Sweden

Every democratic nation has a set of fundamental rules governing their politics of the nation. These set of rules state how the country shall be governed, for example, the relationship between the legislative and executive authorities, and sets out the freedoms and rights of the citizens. These rules are generally known as the Constitution. The Swedish constitution consists of four fundamental laws (Swedish: Grundlagen):  Sweden's four fundamental (constitutional) laws: 1. The Instrument of Government - Regeringsformen 2. The Act of Succession - Successionsordningen 3. The Freedom of the Press Act - Tryckfrihetsförordningen 4. The Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression - Yttrandefrihetsgrundlagen There is also a law on the internal organization and procedures of the Riksdag with a special status, although not regarded as a fundamental law, it requires the same amendment procedure as the fundamental laws except that it does not allow for an amendment referendum. The Riksdag Act contains detailed provisions regulating the business of the Riksdag. The Riksdag Act - Riksdagsordningen When a new fundamental law is to be passed or amendments are to be made, special provisions apply. To amend a fundamental law, the Riksdag must approve identically worded proposals on two separate occasions with a parliamentary election in between.

Parliamentary Control

An important task of the Riksdag is to scrutinize and control the Government and the public administration. This is called the Power of Parliamentary Control. The rules regulating this controlling power are stated in one of the fundamental laws, the Instrument of Government. The Riksdag has five instruments of parliamentary control: Scrutiny of the Government by the Committee of the Constitution (Konstitutionsutskottet) Motion of No Confidence – a submission of a motion that a minister no longer has the confidence of the Riksdag (Misstroendeförklaring) Interpellations and questions to ministers by members of the Riksdag. To Interpellate is to interrupt a parliamentary debate by asking a question of some aspect of government policy. The interpellation is a more formal way of getting answerers from cabinet ministers than an ordinary parliamentary question. The Parliamentary Auditors The Parliamentary Ombudsmen (Justitieombudsmannen, JO) The last two instruments of parliamentary control can also be used by the public to scrutinize the Government.

For the American Readers

The Swedish Län (County) has a role more similar to the US State compared to the role of the US County. However, the Swedish counties don’t have the independence of the US States. The US County is better compared to the Swedish “Kommun” (Municipality) rather than to the Swedish Län (County). The US term consolidated city-county probably best describes the Kommun.

Related Links

The History of the Riksdag Facts about Sweden The subdivisions of Sweden

Source References

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