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Ministerstyre ("ministerial rule") in Swedish describes a deviation from the rule that individual government ministers in Sweden[note 1] do not have the right to influence or decide the handling of individual cases at government agencies. There is no equivalent term in English because the constitutional tradition of Sweden is different from those of English-speaking countries.
In Sweden, this is unconstitutional, for two reasons. Government agencies (similar but not the same as executive agencies), which are separate organisational entities from the ministries, are fundamentally independent in their handling of individual cases, and only the government (by collective decision-making) can issue instructions to agencies. Thus, a version of the independence of the political power that courts have in most countries applies to a larger set of agencies in Sweden.
The type of decision-making unconstitutional in Sweden is common practice in most other countries such as the United Kingdom, but shares similarities with practice in the United States in which interference by ministers is limited by congressional oversight not under executive control. In Sweden, the Government and the Riksdag have regulatory power and are responsible for creating laws (in the case of the Riksdag) and ordinances (in the case of the Government) governing the workings of the different agencies. The reasoning behind this is to prevent government corruption and to ensure that laws and regulations are applied equally. It also motivates the Government and Riksdag to get rid of hard-to-interpret or problematic laws and regulations. There are rare exceptions to this distinction, such as when a natural disaster or war occurs and there is a need for a shorter chain of command.
In practice, much of the ministerial influence is handled by informal coordination rather than by formal decisions by ministers or the government. The government also appoints the heads of the independent agencies and has the power to remove them.
Chapter 11. art. 7 of The (Swedish) Instrument of Government:
No public authority, including the Riksdag and the decision-making bodies of local authorities, may determine how an administrative authority shall decide in a particular case relating to the exercise of public authority vis-à-vis a private subject or a local authority, or relating to the application of law.
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