Politics of Sweden

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The politics of Sweden take 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 and employed until retirement. Sweden is formally a monarchy with a monarch holding symbolic power.


Sweden has a typical Western European history of democracy, beginning with the old Viking age Ting electing kings, ending with a hereditary 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 parliamentarismde jure since 1975, de facto since 1917.

Since the Great Depression, Swedish national politics has largely been dominated by the Social Democratic Workers' Party, which has held a plurality (and sometimes a majority) in parliament since 1917.

The Economist Intelligence Unit rated Sweden a "full democracy" its report for 2020. [1] Sweden is also ranked a liberal democracy by the V-Dem Institute (2021) [2] and scores 40/40 for protection of political rights according to Freedom House (2020). [3]


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 House of Bernadotte regulating their rights to accede to the Swedish throne.

The four fundamental laws are:


Executive branch

Head of Government

In August 2021, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven announced his resignation and finance minister Magdalena Andersson was elected as the new head of Sweden's ruling Social Democrats in November 2021. [6] On 30 November 2021, Magdalena Andersson became Sweden's first female prime minister. She formed a minority government made up of only her Social Democrats. Her plan for forming a new coalition government with the Green Party was unsuccessful because her budget proposal failed to pass. [7] [8]


The highest executive authority of the State is vested in the Government, which consists of a Prime Minister and roughly 22 Ministers who head the ministries. The Ministers are appointed at the sole discretion of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is nominated by the Speaker and appointed following a vote in the Riksdag itself. The Monarch plays no part in this process. The only way to get rid of a government is through a motion of no confidence (misstroendevotum) in the Riksdag. This motion must get a majority of the total number of votes in the Riksdag (at least 175). Another example of the power the legislature has given the Government is the adoption of the budget in the Riksdag. The Government's proposition to budget is adopted, unless a majority of the members of the Riksdag vote against it. This is to make it possible to govern even in minority.

Legislative branch

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

The Riksdag in Stockholm Riksdagen June 2011.jpg
The Riksdag in Stockholm
Inside the Riksdag Riksdag assembly hall 2006.jpg
Inside the Riksdag

Legislation may be initiated by the Cabinet or by members of the Riksdag. 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 five general elections (1976, 1979, 1991, 2006 and 2010) have given the centre-right bloc enough seats in the Riksdag 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

A general election is held alongside local and regional elections every four years. The last election was held on 11 September 2018.


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.

Government agencies

Government policy is carried out by the administrative authorities (Swedish: förvaltningsmyndigheter) and government agencies of Sweden. These bodies are state-controlled and are formally headed by government-appointed Directors-General but act independently from the executive and legislative branches of government. Ministerial governance (Swedish: ministerstyre) is illegal; in accordance with 2 §, chapter 12 of the Instrument of Government, no member of the Riksdag or government may interfere in the day-to-day operation of an agency, nor in the outcome of individual cases.


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 around 87%, (87.18% in the general election of 2018).

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.

According to a survey investigation by the sociologist Jenny Hansson, [10] Swedish national parliamentarians have an average work week of 66 hours, including side responsibilities. Hansson's investigation further reports that the average Swedish national parliamentarian sleeps 6.5 hours per night.

Administrative divisions

Sweden is divided into 21 counties. In each county there is a county administrative board and a county council. Each county contains several municipalities, in total 290. Stockholm is the capital of Sweden. The King, the Riksdag and the Government have their permanent seat 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. The Three Mile Island accident (United States) 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. [11] Sweden is the highest ranked country in the Climate Change Performance Index.[ citation needed ]

In March 2005, an opinion poll showed that 83% supported maintaining or increasing nuclear power. [12] Since then however, reports about radioactive leakages at a nuclear waste store in Forsmark, Sweden, have been published. [13] This does not seem to have changed the public support of continued use of nuclear power.

Following the recommendation of the 1980 referendum, two nuclear power reactors were closed by government decision in 1999 and 2005, respectively. However, in February 2009, the Swedish centre-right wing government announced that new nuclear power stations may be constructed if they replace old ones, thus ending the previous de facto phase out policy. [14]

Foreign relations

Throughout the 20th century, Swedish foreign policy was based on the principle of non-alignment in peacetime, neutrality in wartime. This principle has 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. [ citation needed ]

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

In 1995 Sweden, together with Finland and Austria, joined the European Union which extended 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 United Nations and several other organisations such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and International Monetary Fund.

See also

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Riksdag Supreme legislative body of Sweden

The Riksdag is the national legislature and the supreme decision-making body of Sweden. Since 1971, the Riksdag has been a unicameral legislature with 349 members, elected proportionally and serving, from 1994 onwards, on fixed four-year terms. As of 2021, the 2018 Swedish general election is the most recent held general election.

Per Albin Hansson Swedish politician, Prime Minister of Sweden, 1932–36 and 1936–46

Per Albin Hansson was a Swedish politician, chairman of the Social Democrats from 1925 and two-time Prime Minister in four governments between 1932 and 1946, governing all that period save for a short-lived crisis in the summer of 1936, which he ended by forming a coalition government with his main adversary, Axel Pehrsson-Bramstorp. During World War II, in which Sweden maintained a policy of neutrality, he presided over a government of national unity that included all major parties in the Riksdag with the exception of the Communist Party. Forging the Social Democratic grip on Swedish politics that would last throughout the century, Hansson left an astounding legacy on his party as well as creating the idea of Sweden to become "Folkhemmet", "The People's Home". This remained intact until the early 1990s, including a strict policy of neutrality, a wide-stretching welfare state through parliamentary legislation, and reformist social corporatism rather than Marxist socialization of the means of production. Following the war, Hansson formed a Social Democratic cabinet enjoying absolute majority in the Riksdag before succumbing to a heart attack on his way home from work late at night on 6 October 1946.

Prime Minister of Sweden Head of government of Sweden

The prime minister is the head of government in Sweden. Before the creation of the office of a prime minister in 1876, Sweden did not have a head of government separate from its head of state, namely the king, in whom the executive authority was vested. Louis Gerhard De Geer, the architect behind the new bicameral Riksdag of 1866 that replaced the centuries-old Riksdag of the Estates, became the first officeholder in 1876.

The Alliance, formerly the Alliance for Sweden, was a centre-right political alliance in Sweden.

History of Sweden (1991–present)

After a period of rapid growth and unprecedented prosperity during the late 1980s, by 1990 the Swedish economy overheated, and after a controversial bill freezing salaries and banning strikes failed in the Riksdag, the social democratic government led by Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson resigned in February 1990. At this time the respected Finance Minister Kjell-Olof Feldt left the government in protest over what he saw as irresponsible economic policies. Carlsson soon formed a new government, but by the time of the general election in September 1991 the economy was in free fall, and with rapidly rising unemployment, the social democrats received the smallest share of votes in sixty years (37.7%), resulting in the loss of office to the opposition, a centre-right coalition led by Carl Bildt.

Andreas Norlén Swedish politician

Per Olof Andreas Norlén is a Swedish Moderate Party politician who has served as Speaker of the Riksdag since September 2018. He has been a Member of the Riksdag (MP) for Östergötland County since October 2006. Norlén has previously been a member of the Committee on the Constitution, 2014–2018 as chair of the committee.

Lena Hallengren Swedish Social Democratic politician

Lena Ingeborg Hallengren is a Swedish politician of the Social Democratic Party who has been serving as Minister for Health and Social Affairs in the cabinet of Prime Minister Stefan Löfven since 21 January 2019.

2018 Swedish general election

General elections were held in Sweden on 9 September 2018 to elect the 349 members of the Riksdag. Regional and municipal elections were also held on the same day. The incumbent minority government, consisting of the Social Democrats and the Greens and supported by the Left Party, won 144 seats, one seat more than the four-party Alliance coalition, with the Sweden Democrats winning the remaining 62 seats. The Social Democrats' vote share fell to 28.3 percent, its lowest level of support since 1911.

2014 Swedish general election

General elections were held in Sweden on 14 September 2014 to elect all 349 seats in the Riksdag, alongside elections for the 21 county councils, and 290 municipal assemblies.

Stefan Löfven former Prime Minister of Sweden

Kjell Stefan Löfven is a Swedish politician who served as the prime minister of Sweden from 3 October 2014 to 30 November 2021, and was leader of the Social Democratic Party from 2012 to 2021.

Magdalena Andersson Prime Minister of Sweden

Eva Magdalena Andersson is a Swedish politician and economist serving as prime minister of Sweden since 30 November 2021, and as leader of the Social Democratic Party since 4 November 2021.

Löfven I Cabinet

The first cabinet of Stefan Löfven was the cabinet of Sweden between 2014 and 2018. It was a coalition government, consisting of two parties: the Social Democrats and the Green Party. The cabinet was installed on 3 October 2014, following the 2014 general election. It lost a vote of no confidence following the 2018 election, but remained in office as a caretaker government. Löfven was reelected as Prime Minister in January 2019, thus forming the second cabinet of Stefan Löfven.

Morgan Johansson Swedish politician

Tomas Morgan Johansson is a Swedish politician of the Social Democrats. He has served as Minister for Justice since 2014 and as Minister of the Interior since 2021, having previously served in that position from 2017 to 2019. He served as Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy from 2014 to 2017 and again from 2019 to 2021.

2014 Swedish government crisis

The 2014 Swedish government crisis started on 3 December 2014 after the Riksdag rejected the proposed government budget in favour of a budget proposed by the centre-right opposition.

2022 Swedish general election 2022 election for the Swedish parliament

General elections will be held in Sweden on 11 September 2022 to elect the 349 members of the Riksdag. They in turn will elect the Prime Minister of Sweden. Under the constitution, regional and municipal elections will also be held on the same day.

In the 2018 Swedish general election, no political group or party won an outright majority, resulting in a hung parliament. On 9 September, the Red-Greens, led by Stefan Löfven's Social Democrats (S), emerged as the main political force in the Riksdag, while the centre-right Alliance led by Ulf Kristersson's Moderate Party only got one seat less. The right-wing populist party Sweden Democrats, led by Jimmie Åkesson, came third. As a result, protracted negotiations were required before a new government could be formed. On 18 January 2019, Löfven was re-elected as prime minister.

Members of Parliament in Sweden sit in the Riksdag.

2021 Swedish government crisis Government crisis in Sweden

A government crisis started on 21 June 2021 in Sweden after the Riksdag ousted Prime Minister Stefan Löfven with a no-confidence vote. This was the first time in Swedish history a Prime Minister was ousted by a no-confidence vote. After winning the 2014 Swedish general election, the Löfven II Cabinet's government budget was rejected by the Riksdag, causing a government crisis that lasted for nearly an entire month. The 2021 government crisis is the second government crisis with a Löfven cabinet. The vote was called on 17 June 2021 by the Sweden Democrats after the Swedish Left Party withdrew support for Löfven over the rent control reforms which is an important issue for many voters.

Löfven III Cabinet

The third cabinet of Stefan Löfven was the Government of Sweden during 9 July 2021 to 30 November 2021. It was a coalition, consisting of two parties: the Social Democrats and the Green Party. The cabinet was installed on 9 July 2021, during a formal government meeting with King Carl XVI Gustaf. The government is the result of the aftermath of the 2021 government crisis, which saw Löfven's government removed from power in a vote of no-confidence over proposed reforms to liberalize the rent control system.


  1. EIU 2020 report
  2. V-Dem 2021 report, p. 31
  3. "Sweden: Freedom in the World 2020 Country Report". Freedom House. Retrieved 1 July 2021.
  4. Regeringskansliet, Regeringen och (2014-11-05). "Så bildas regeringen". Regeringskansliet (in Swedish). Retrieved 2019-11-18.
  5. Sverige har fått en ny regering (in Swedish), SE: Riksdagen, 2 October 2014, Stefan Löfven (S) är ny statsminister i en minoritetsregering som består av Socialdemokraterna och Miljöpartiet..
  6. "Sweden's Social Democrats elect Magdalena Andersson as leader". France 24. 4 November 2021.
  7. Johnson, Simon; Pollard, Niklas (29 November 2021). "Sweden's first female premier returns days after quitting". Reuters.
  8. "Magdalena Andersson: Sweden's first female PM returns after resignation". BBC News. 29 November 2021.
  9. "Om Högsta förvaltningsdomstolen".
  10. Hansson, Jenny (2008). "De Folkvaldas Livsvillkor" (PDF) (in Swedish). Umea: Umea University. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-03-03.
  11. Figures about energy production and usage 1994–2003 (in Swedish), SCB.
  12. Nuclear Power in Sweden, Australia: Uranium Information Centre.
  13. "Swedish nuclear power station leaks high levels of radioactive waste into Baltic", Forbes, June 29, 2005.
  14. World nuclear news, archived from the original on 2011-03-19, retrieved 2010-01-24.

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