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Parliament of Sweden

The Swedish Riksdag or Sveriges Riksdag is the Parliament of Sweden. The Riksdag is a unicameral assembly with 349 members, which are publicly elected on a proportional basis to serve four year terms.

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Organization

Speaker of Parliament: Björn von Sydow[?] (since september 2002)
Chamber: Unicameral with 349 members
Elections: Members are elected by popular vote on a proportional representation basis to serve four-year terms.
Elections last held: September 15, 2002 (next to be held third sunday of September 2006)

Constitution

Main article: Constitution of Sweden

The Riksdag fulfils the normal functions of a parliament in a parliamentary democracy. It enacts laws, amends the constitution and appoints a Government. In most parliamentary democracies, the Chief of State commissions a politician to form a government. Under the new Instrument of Government (constitution) enacted in 1974, that role was removed from the King of Sweden and given to the Speaker of Parliament. To make changes to the Constitution under the new Instrument of Government, amendments must have been passed by Parliament during two successive terms, with a general election held in between.

Government

Main article: Government of Sweden

After holding talks with leaders of the different fractions (party leaders) in the Riksdag, the Speaker of Parliament appoints a designate Prime Minister. To form a Government, the Prime Minister-designate must then present a list of Cabinet Ministers and have it approved by Parliament. The parliament can cast a vote of no confidence against any single member of the government, thus forcing a resignment. If a vote of no confidence is cast against the Prime Minister or Statsminister, the entire government must resign. The parliament will then proceed to vote for another government.

Politics

Main article: Politics of Sweden

Political parties are strong in Sweden, with members of the Riksdag usually supporting their parties in parliamentary votes. In most cases, governments can command the support of the majority in the Riksdag, allowing the government to control the parliamentary agenda.

For many years, no single political party in Sweden has managed to gain more than 50% of the votes, so political parties with similar agendas cooperate on several issues, forming coalition governments. In general, two major blocks exist in parliament, the left and the right, or socialists and the conservatives/liberals. The socialists have been the government for the last three terms and won the election in 2002. Swedish socialism, as practiced by the governing social democratic party in Sweden is generally moderate and social democratic rather than ideological.

Elections

Main article: Elections in Sweden

All 349 members of the Riksdag are appointed in the general elections held every four years. Eligible to vote and stand for elections are Swedish Citizens who turn 18 years old no later than on the day of the election. The next elections are due to be held in 2006. As in Germany, a percentage threshhold is applied for parties contesting elections, with a minimum of 4 percent support nationally required for membership of Parliament.

History

Main article: Riksdag

The roots of the modern Riksdag can be found in a 1435 meeting of the Swedish nobility in the city of Arborga[?]. This informal organization was modified in 1527 by the first modern Swedish king Gustav I to include representatives from all the four social estates: aristocracy, clergy, burgesses, and peasantry. That form of Ständestaat representation lasted until 1865, when representation by estate was abolished and the modern bicameral parliament established. Effectively, however, it did not become a parliament in the modern form until parliamentary principles were established in the political system in Sweden, in the 1920s.

Before the Constitutional reforms that brought a new Instrument of Government in 1974 the Riksdag itself underwent fundamental changes in 1970. It had been founded as a political assembly with two chambers but the changes transformed it into a unicameral assembly with 350 seats. Unfortunately the first general election to the unicameral Riksdag only gave the Government support from 175 members, while the opposition could mobilize an equal fore of 175 members. In several cases this meant that a tied vote, ultimately had to be decided by chance. In 1974 the number of seats in parliament was reduced to 349.

See also: Privy Council of Sweden, King of Sweden



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