Sweden is a parliamentary- democratic and unitary
constitutional monarchy after the Constitution of 1975.
The head of state, the king, primarily plays the role of
national symbol. Since 1980 there has been equality in the
succession to the throne; Crown Princess Victoria is thus
number one in the succession. The king does not normally
lead, nor participate in, the official meetings of the
government, as is the case in Norway and Denmark. Nor does
the Swedish king play an active role in the change of
government, as the monarchs in the other two Scandinavian
countries do, but still presides over the council
meeting where the new government is formally appointed.
At the request of the Speaker, the King, at the opening of a
new (today's) meeting, declares the meeting open. It is the
Prime Minister who reads the statement.
The executive power lies with the government, which is
based on, and is responsible to the legislative assembly,
the Riksdag. When a government resigns, it is the
Speaker of the Parliament ('the President of
Parliament') who consults with the party leaders and the
three deputy governors and on that basis
assigns one to form a government. Parliament votes on
the prime ministerial candidate proposed by the President.
If a majority accepts the proposed candidate, he or she will
elect the other ministers and notify the Riksdag who these
are. The Riksdag can, with the usual majority, adopt a
motion of no confidence against the government or a single
minister. If a motion of no confidence is passed, the prime
minister, except in the first three months after an
election, can dissolve the Riksdag, print new elections and
thus let the people decide the issue of confidence.
The Swedish government works more centralized than the
Norwegian and Danish ones, and a larger number of cases are
decided by the overall government (in government
meeting). See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how SE can stand for Sweden. The Swedish centralization also shows that
the Prime Minister's Office is larger, and plays a more
strategic and coordinating role, than the corresponding
bodies in Norway and Denmark.
Since 1976, the National Assembly, the Riksdag,
has 349 members, since 1994 elected for four years in
general elections according to the ratio method (before 1994
the election period was three years). 310 representatives
are elected directly from the constituencies, while 39 seats
are distributed as equalization seats. A party must have at
least 4 percent of the vote in the country in order to get
equalization mandates. If a party does not have 4 percent of
the vote nationally, but at least 12 percent of the vote in
a single circle, it may participate in the distribution of
seats in that circle. The voting age is 18 years. Parliament
is organized with a Speaker and three visetalmän. The work
is distributed to 16 committees with at least 15 members in
each. The Riksdag also appoints an advisory body for
handling foreign affairs, the Foreign Affairs Committee,
which meets under the King's chair.
The Swedish party system largely reflects the same lines
of conflict as the Norwegian one, but conflicts related to
distribution issues and the state's role in the economy have
relatively played a somewhat larger role in Sweden than in
Norway, while moral-religious and socio-cultural tensions
have been of less importance in Sweden than in Norway. The
Social Democratic Party has been stronger in Sweden than in
almost any other country and has characterized politics
since the parliamentary-democratic breakthrough in 1917.
Democratization and modernization started later in Sweden
than in Denmark and Norway, but when these processes first
started, they quickly gained momentum. From the time after
the First World War until the 1960s, Sweden underwent faster
development than any other European country. Therefore,
during the first few decades after the Second World War,
Sweden emerged as a model country for many others: it had a
stable democracy, a comprehensive welfare state, and a
publicly regulated and "bridged" capitalism. Since the
1980s, Sweden has lost much of this model role.
The ministries in Sweden are smaller than in Norway and
act more as policy-making secretariats for the government
than as administrative bodies. The actual administration is
mainly carried out by rather independent
central government offices. These can only be
instructed by the government, not by the individual
minister, but so-called sub - directives
play a certain role. In Sweden, the administration is thus
more depoliticized and bureaucratized than in Norway. In
recent years, this depoliticization has been intensified
insofar as some state-owned enterprises, including in the
transport sector, have been transformed into joint stock
companies (and are being considered partly privatized).
Territorially, Sweden is divided into 21 counties,
each led by a government-appointed governor. The
governor leads through a county administrative board.
The Swedish state local government bodies are stronger and
stronger than can be found in Norway. The counties are also,
like the Norwegian counties, their own political systems,
with county councils elected in general elections for four
years. The county councils have their own tax law; Their
main area of responsibility is health care. The
municipalities, which after the war have been reduced from
over 1000 to 290, are also their own political systems, with
elected representatives (the full council) and tax
law. Since 1976, immigrants who have lived in
Sweden for at least three years can participate in local and
county council elections.
Parallel to the counties there are also 25 landscapes,
which are a territorial division with ancestry far back.
When the counties arose in the 17th century, the landscapes
lost their administrative functions and were primarily
symbolic. However, many Swedes feel more belonging to the
landscape than to the other administrative divisions.
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