Short for SE by Abbreviationfinder, Sweden is a constitutional monarchy where the political power lies with the elected parliament, the Riksdag. The government is appointed by Parliament and is dependent on its support. This state state, parliamentarism, has been in operation since 1917 but was first established in the 1974 form of government. Then the monarch’s task was limited to representing the country.
Sweden’s constitution consists of four constitutions: the form of government (RF), the succession order (SO), the Freedom of Expression Regulation (TF) and the Freedom of Expression Constitution (YGL). RF regulates the state of the state and the functioning of the state, and establishes basic civil liberties and rights. SO, which regulates the succession, was adopted in 1810 and means that the head of state should be a descendant of Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte. Female succession was introduced in 1980. TF and YGL refer to freedom of speech in the media (see also Democracy and Rights). Furthermore, there is the Parliamentary Order (RO), which is regarded as an intermediary between constitution and ordinary law.
- Countryaah: Total population and chart of Sweden for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024. Also covers population density, birth rate, death rate and population growth rates.
To change a constitution, it is necessary that the Riksdag make the same decision twice, and that a general choice is held between the decisions. The most recent constitutional amendments came into force on 1 January 2019.
According to the form of government, all public power is based on the people, represented by the members of Parliament. The former two-chamber kingdom day was replaced in 1971 by a single-chamber kingdom day, which since 1976 has 349 members. Members of Parliament are elected in general and proportional elections. The term of office was three years from 1970 to 1994, but then returned to being four years.
Parliament’s main task is to pass laws and approve the budget. Parliament also approves an incoming prime minister. Since 2011, the Riksdag must vote on the Prime Minister’s post after each election. Through a distrust vote, the Riksdag can topple the government or force the Cabinet of Ministers (ministers) to resign. The prime minister himself appoints the minister, who does not have to sit in parliament. Membership of the EU in 1995 meant that some legislative power was moved to a supranational level, either through direct EU legislation or through directives, when the government and parliament formulate and approve the legislative text itself.
The voting age in Sweden is 18 years. Foreign citizens with a residence permit may vote in municipal and regional elections. Citizenship is required for voting rights in parliamentary elections. Voter turnout was just over 87 percent in 2018, a high figure for a non-voting country. To enter Parliament, a party must receive at least 4 percent of all votes, or at least 12 percent in one of the 29 parliamentary constituencies.
In its work, the Government is assisted by the Government Offices, which is an authority consisting of the Cabinet of Ministers (who coordinates the Government’s work), the ministries each having a Minister of State as the highest political officer and an administrative department. The ministries have central government offices or authorities, and regional county boards. However, the ministries have great independence because so-called ministerial rule is forbidden. This means that the government is not allowed to control how an authority applies a law or decides in an individual case.
Sweden is divided into 290 municipalities, which are governed by the City Council, and 21 counties. The county administrative boards are the state’s representatives in the counties, which are governed by regional assemblies (at least except Gotland, which is a single municipality). Previously, they were called county councils, but since January 1, 2019, all former county councils call themselves regions, since they have been given increased responsibility for regional planning. The municipalities and regions have great independence, with the right to own tax collection and responsibility for, among other things, schools and healthcare. At the same time, most government grants for their activities. The municipal and regional elections are held at the same time as parliamentary elections.
The 25 landscapes that Sweden is also divided into already lost its political and administrative function in 1634, but still has an important cultural significance to this day. The landscapes are informally divided into three regions: Götaland, Svealand and Norrland.
Notable for Swedish administration is the Ombudsman function, which has gained many followers in the world. Parliamentary Ombudsmen, an authority better known as the Justice Ombudsman (JO), receive complaints from those who consider themselves to have been wrongly treated by an authority. The JO office was introduced as early as 1809. The Discrimination Ombudsman (DO) was formed in 2009 when four separate ombudsmen for discriminatory treatment were merged. The four were the Equality Ombudsman (JämO), the Disability Ombudsman (HO), the Ombudsman Against Discrimination on the basis of Sexual orientation (HomO), and the Ombudsman against Ethnic Discrimination.
An important element of political life is various organizations and popular movements. Some are more or less firmly linked to political parties, such as the trade union organization (LO), which has influence over social democratic politics.
In Sweden, five political parties have long dominated in two blocks, one socialist and one bourgeois. The bloc that got the most votes formed government. Gradually, the parties approached the center on the political left-right scale, just as in other countries. What continued to differentiate was mainly tax levels and the size of the public sector and state ownership. Since the end of the 1980s, other parties have also gained a place in the Riksdag and the picture has changed. The number of parliamentary parties is now eight and the block division is less clear.
Sweden’s Social Democratic Workers Party (SAP or S) has been the largest parliamentary party since 1917. During the three-quarter century, 1932–2006, the Social Democrats were in opposition for only nine years. The long hold of power is unparalleled in other countries. As late as 1994, the party received 45 percent of the vote in the parliamentary elections, but the trend has since then been declining. In the 2018 election, S received just over 28 percent, the worst result in over 100 years. Party leader since 2012 is Stefan Löfven.
The Moderate Party (M) has been the second largest party since 1979. It is a liberal conservative, market-friendly party that until 1969 was called the Right Party. Under Fredrik Reinfeldt, who was party leader in 2003–2014, M changed his direction and called himself “the New Moderates”. The party took over several of the core issues of social democracy and claimed to be Sweden’s new state-carrying party. In the 2010 election, M received support from 30 percent of voters, only half a percentage point less than the Social Democrats. In the two following elections, however, the party has backed sharply. Party leader since 2017 is Ulf Kristersson.
In 2004, M formed the bourgeois election cooperation Alliance with three small parties. Until 2015, the Liberals (L) were called the Liberal Party (FP) and have been a classic social liberal party that advocates a market-oriented economy and a social welfare system. The party has been led by Nyamko Sabuni since 2019. The Center Party (C) was formerly called the Farmer Federation and still has its base in the municipalities abroad. The party chairman since 2011 is Annie Lööf. The Christian Democrats (KD, former Christian Democratic Assembly (KDS) is a much younger party than the others and has been a member of Parliament since 1991. The party initially wanted to promote Christian values and ethical issues in politics but has been broadened to a general bourgeois party that emphasizes the role of the family in society. The Christian Democrats have been led by Ebba Busch Thor since 2015.
The Left Party (V) has often constituted support in the Riksdag for S-labeled minority governments and was part of the election cooperation The Red-Green 2010. The party was formed in 1917 in a split in the social democracy. It was formerly called the Left Party Communists (VPK), but in 1990, communism was removed from its name and party program. Since January 2012, it has been led by Jonas Sjöstedt. The Red Greens also included the Miljöpartiet de Greens (MP) who previously had the ambition to be free from block politics. The MP, which was formed in 1981, instead of a party leader has two so-called language tubes which according to internal rules are replaced after a certain period. Isabella Lövin has been a language speaker since 2016 and Per Bolund since 2019.
In the 2014 and 2018 elections, the three parties ran separately and in both cases the result became a minority government with S and MP (see further Current policy).
The Swedish Democrats (SD) is a nationalist party that is critical to immigration policy and entered the Riksdag for the first time in 2010. It was previously established in many municipalities, mainly in southern Sweden. Other parliamentary parties distance themselves from the party, which is referred to as racist or undemocratic. The Swedish Democrats are the third largest party in the Riksdag since the 2014 elections. Jimmie Åkesson has been SD’s party leader since 2005.
Outbreak from SD in early 2018 formed a new party, Alternatives for Sweden (AFS), which is described as extremely extreme and populist. Party leader is Gustav Kasselstrand, former leader of the youth association SDU but who was excluded from SD 2015 (see Calendar). Three members of parliament in a short time left SD and joined AFS, which, however, received few votes in the election.
New party formations have long had a hard time gaining a foothold in Swedish politics, although that picture has been somewhat relaxed in recent years. In three consecutive EU elections, a then newly formed party took a seat in the European Parliament, but in all cases they have failed both to enter parliament and to retain the EU mandate following the next election. Prior to the 2004 European Parliament elections, the EU-critical June list was formed, which received almost 15 percent of the vote, but was later in principle deleted. Instead, in the 2009 European elections, the Pirate Party took a seat – a party formed in 2006 with issues related to copyright and integrity in new media as the sole focus. Feminist Initiative (Fi) which was given an EU seat in 2014 had been formed nine years earlier with the gender power scheme as the main issue, led by former leftist leader Gudrun Schyman.