Politics of Sweden

Politics of Sweden

Politics of Sweden takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic constitutional monarchy. Executive power is exercised by the government, led by the Prime Minister of Sweden. Legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament, elected within a multi-party system. The Judiciary is independent, appointed by the government for life.

Sweden has a typical Western European history of democracy, beginning with the old Viking age Ting electing kings, ending with a regular royal power in the 14th century, that in periods became more or less democratic depending on the general European trends. The current democratic regime is a product of a stable development of successively added democratic institutions introduced during the 19th century up to 1921, when women's suffrage was introduced. The Government of Sweden has adhered to Parliamentarism — "de jure" since 1975, "de facto" since 1917.


The Constitution of Sweden consists of four fundamental laws. The most important is the Instrument of Government of 1974 which sets out the basic principles of political life in Sweden, defining rights and freedoms. The Act of Succession is a treaty between the old Riksdag of the Estates and The House of Bernadotte regulating their rights to accede to the Swedish throne.

The four fundamental laws are:
*Instrument of Government (1974)
*Act of Succession (1809)
*Freedom of the Press Act (1766)
*Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression (1991)

Executive branch

Carl XVI Gustaf|
September 15 1973
Prime Minister
Fredrik Reinfeldt
Moderate Party
October 5 2006

Head of State

King Carl XVI Gustav of the House of Bernadotte became king in 1973. His authority is formal, symbolic, and representational.


The executive authority of the government is vested in the cabinet, which consists of a Prime Minister and roughly 22 Ministers who run the government departments. The Ministers are appointed by the Prime Minister without any confirmation of the Parliament. The Prime Minister is first appointed by the Speaker of Parliament and then confirmed by Parliament. The monarch plays no part in this process.

Legislative branch

The unicameral Riksdag has 349 members, popularly elected every 4 years. It is in session generally from September through mid-June.

Legislation may be initiated by the Cabinet or by members of Parliament. Members are elected on the basis of proportional representation for a four-year term. The Riksdag can alter the Constitution of Sweden, but only with approval by a supermajority and confirmation after the following general elections.

The Swedish Social Democratic Party has played a leading political role since 1917, after Reformists confirmed their strength and the revolutionaries left the party. After 1932, the Cabinets have been dominated by the Social Democrats. Only four general elections (1976, 1979, 1991 and 2006) have given the centre-right bloc enough seats in Parliament to form a government. This is considered one reason for the Swedish post-war welfare state, with a government expenditure of slightly more than 50% of the gross domestic product.

Political parties and elections


Swedish law, drawing on Germanic, Roman, and Anglo-American law, is neither as codified as in France and other countries influenced by the Napoleonic Code, nor as dependent on judicial practice and precedents as in the United States.

*"Courts": Civil and criminal jurisdiction
**Supreme Court or "Högsta domstolen"
**Courts of appeal or "Hovrätter"
**District courts or "Tingsrätter"

*"Administrative Courts": Litigation between the Public and the Government.
**The Supreme Administrative Court or "Regeringsrätten"
**Administrative courts of appeal or "Kammarrätter"
**County administrative courts or "Länsrätter"

**The Parliamentary Ombudsman or "Justitieombudsmannen"
**The Chancellor of Justice


Sweden has a history of strong political involvement by ordinary people through its "popular movements" (Folkrörelser in Swedish), the most notable being trade unions, the women's movement, the temperance movement, and -- more recently -- sports movement. Election turnout in Sweden has always been high in international comparisons, although it has declined in recent decades, and is currently around 82 percent (81.99 in Sweden general election, 2006).

Some Swedish political figures that have become known worldwide include Joe Hill, Carl Skoglund, Raoul Wallenberg, Folke Bernadotte, Dag Hammarskjöld, Olof Palme, Carl Bildt, Hans Blix, and Anna Lindh.

Administrative divisions

Sweden is divided into 21 counties. In each county there is a County Administrative Board and a County Council. Each county is also divided into several Municipalities, in total 289. Stockholm is the capital of Sweden. The King, the Parliament and the Cabinet all sit in Stockholm. Up to 1968 when the Overgovernor's Office was incorporated into Stockholm County, it had a special status.

Energy politics

After the 1973 oil crisis, the energy politics were determined to become less dependent on the import of petroleum. Since then, electricity has been generated mostly from hydropower and nuclear power. Sweden wants to be independent of petroleum use by 2020. Accidents at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station (USA) prompted the Swedish parliament in 1980 after a referendum to decide that no further nuclear power plants should be built and that a nuclear power phase-out should be completed by 2010. As of 2005, the use of renewables amounted to 26% of the energy supply in Sweden, most important being hydropower and biomass. In 2003, electricity from hydropower accounted for 53 TWh and 40% of the country's production of electricity with nuclear power delivering 65 TWh (49%). At the same time, the use of biofuels, peat etc. produced 13 TWh of electricity [ [http://www.scb.se/templates/tableOrChart____24270.asp SCB figures about energy production and usage 1994-2003 - in Swedish] ] .

In March 2005, an opinion poll showed that 83% supported maintaining or increasing nuclear power [ [http://www.uic.com.au/nip39.htm "Nuclear Power in Sweden" - Uranium Information Centre, Australia] ] . Since then however, reports about radioactive leakages at a nuclear waste store in Forsmark, Sweden, have been published [ [http://www.forbes.com/finance/feeds/afx/2005/06/29/afx2116521.html "Swedish nuclear power station leaks high levels of radioactive waste into Baltic" - Forbes June 29, 2005] ] . This doesn't seem to have changed the public support of continued use of nuclear power.

In 2006, Forsmark had to execute an emergency shutdown due to a malfunction. The Swedish nuclear reactors, of German design, were subject to an error that was well-known to the constructors. In Finland, where reactors of the same type are used, the problem has been fixed on all reactors. The malfunction at Forsmark, which in worst case could have resulted in a meltdown, would never had occurred if it had not been for the refusal to correct the problem.

Sweden has decided to phase out nuclear fission before 2020, although it is very unlikely that this will happen.

Foreign relations

Throughout the 20th century, Swedish foreign policy was based on the principle of non-alignment in peacetime, neutrality in wartime. This principle have often been criticised in Sweden, allegedly being a facade, claiming that the Swedish government had an advanced collaboration with western countries within NATO.

During Cold War era politics, Sweden was not under the Warsaw Pact and received only minimal aid from the Marshall Plan. In 1952, a Swedish DC-3 was shot down over the Baltic Sea while gathering reconnaissance. It was later revealed that the plane had been shot down by the Soviet Union. Another plane, a Catalina search and rescue craft, was sent out a few days later and shot down by Soviets warplanes as well.

Sweden was the first western nation to detect unusually high radiation levels in the atmosphere, which later was confirmed to have been the residual nuclear fallout from the Chernobyl accident.

Sweden is also very active in international peace efforts, especially through the United Nations, and in support to the Third World.

In 1995 Sweden together with Finland and Austria joined the European Union, extending the number of member countries from 12 to 15. Membership and its issues are among the most important questions in Swedish politics. Apart from the European Union Sweden is also an active member of the UN and several other organisations such as OECD and IMF.

See also

*Referendums in Sweden
*List of political parties in Sweden
*Swedish Armed Forces

External links

* [http://www.sweden.gov.se The Swedish Government] - Official site
* [http://www.riksdagen.se/default____56.aspx The Riksdag (the Swedish Parliament)] - Official site
* [http://www.royalcourt.se/index.html The Royal Court of Sweden] - Official site
* [http://www.thelocal.se/guides/?to=swedish_election_sweden Guide to the Swedish Election 2006] - The Local


*CIA World Factbook - [https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/sw.html Sweden]
*United States Department of State - [http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2880.htm Sweden]

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