|Riksdag of Sweden
First Deputy Speaker
Second Deputy Speaker
Third Deputy Speaker
|Party-list proportional representation
See Elections in Sweden
|19 September 2010|
|14 September 2014|
Stockholm, 100 12
Kingdom of Sweden
The Riksdag (Swedish: riksdagen or Sveriges 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 (Swedish: riksdagsledamöter), elected proportionally and serving, from 1994 onwards, on fixed four-year terms.
The constitutional functions of the Riksdag are enumerated in the Instrument of Government (Swedish: Regeringsformen), and its internal workings are specified in greater detail in the Riksdag Act (Swedish: Riksdagsordningen).
The seat of the Riksdag is at Parliament House (Swedish: Riksdagshuset), on the island of Helgeandsholmen in the central parts of Stockholm. The Riksdag has its institutional roots in the feudal Riksdag of the Estates, by tradition thought to have first assembled in Arboga in 1435, and in 1866 following reforms of the 1809 Instrument of Government that body was transformed into a bicameral legislature with an upper chamber (Swedish: Första Kammaren) and a lower chamber (Swedish: Andra Kammaren).
The next general election is scheduled to be held on 14 September 2014.
The Swedish word riksdag, in definite form riksdagen, is a general term for "parliament" or "assembly", but it is typically only used for Sweden's legislature and certain related institutions. In addition to Sweden's parliament, it is also used for the Parliament of Finland and the Estonian Riigikogu, as well as the historical German Reichstag and the Danish Rigsdagen. In Swedish use, riksdagen is usually uncapitalized. Riksdag derives from the genitive of rike, referring to royal power, and dag, meaning diet or conference; the German word Reichstag and the Danish Rigsdag are cognate. The Oxford English Dictionary traces English use of the term "Riksdag" in reference to the Swedish assembly back to 1855.
The roots of the modern Riksdag can be found in a 1435 meeting of the Swedish nobility in the city of Arboga. This informal organization was modified in 1527 by the first modern Swedish king Gustav I Vasa to include representatives from all the four social estates: the nobility, the clergy, the burghers (property-owning commoners in the towns such as merchants etc.), and the yeomanry (freehold farmers). This 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 sense until parliamentary principles were established in the political system in Sweden, in 1917.
On 22 June 1866, the Riksdag decided to reconstitute itself as a bicameral legislature, consisting of Första kammaren or the First Chamber, with 155 members and Andra kammaren or the Second Chamber with 233 members. The First Chamber was indirectly elected by county and city councillors, while the Second Chamber was directly elected by universal suffrage. This reform was a result of great malcontent with the old Estates, which, following the changes brought by the beginnings of the industrial revolution, was no longer able to provide representation for large segments of the population.
By an amendment to the 1809 Instrument of Government, the general election of 1970 was the first to a unicameral assembly with 350 seats. The following general election to the unicameral Riksdag in 1973 only gave the Government the support of 175 members, while the opposition could mobilize an equal force of 175 members. In a number of cases a tied vote ensued, and the final decision had to be determined by lot. To avoid any reoccurrence of this unstable situation, the number of seats in the Riksdag was reduced to 349, from 1976 and onwards.
Powers and structure
The riksdag performs the normal functions of a legislature in a parliamentary democracy. It enacts laws, amends the constitution and appoints a government. In most parliamentary democracies, the head of state commissions a politician to form a government. Under the new Instrument of Government (one of the four fundamental laws of the Constitution) enacted in 1974, that task was removed from the Monarch of Sweden and given to the Speaker of the Riksdag. To make changes to the Constitution under the new Instrument of Government, amendments must be approved twice, in two successive electoral periods with a regular general election held in between.
An amendment must be introduced into the chamber nine months prior to such an election unless a 5/6 majority of the Committee on the Constitution authorises it. If one tenth of the members motions for a referendum to block the amendment and one third of the Riksdag backs the motion, a referendum will be held. Such a referendum can only defeat a proposed amendment.
As of February 2013, 44.7 percent of the members of the Riksdag are women. This is the world's fourth highest proportion of females in a national legislature—behind only the Parliaments of Rwanda, Andorra, and Cuba--and the second-highest in the developed world.
Members of the Riksdag are full-time legislators with a salary of 56 000 SEK (around $8 800) per month.
According to a survey investigation by the sociologist Jenny Hansson, Members of the Riksdag have an average work week of 66 hours, including side responsibilities. Hansson's investigation further reports that the average member sleeps 6.5 hours per night.
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After holding talks with leaders of the various party groups in the Riksdag, the Speaker of the Riksdag nominates a Prime Minister (Swedish: Statsminister). The nomination is then put to a vote. Unless an absolute majority of the members (175 members) vote "no", the nomination is confirmed, otherwise it is rejected. The Speaker must then find a new nominee. This means the Riksdag can consent to a Prime Minister without casting any "yes" votes.
After being elected the Prime Minister appoints the cabinet ministers and announces them to the Riksdag. The new Government takes office at a special council held at the Royal Palace before the Monarch, at which the Speaker of the Riksdag formally announces to the Monarch that the Riksdag has elected a new Prime Minister and that the Prime Minister has chosen his cabinet ministers.
The Riksdag can cast a vote of no confidence against any single cabinet minister (Swedish: Statsråd), thus forcing a resignation. To succeed a vote of no confidence must be supported by an absolute majority (175 members) or it has failed.
If a vote of no confidence is cast against the Prime Minister this means the entire government is rejected. A losing government has one week to call for a general election or else the procedure of nominating a new Prime Minister starts anew.
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.
No single party has won an outright majority in the Riksdag since 1968, so political parties with similar agendas cooperate on several issues, forming coalition governments or other formalized alliances. Currently, two major blocs exist in parliament, the socialist/green Red-Greens and the conservative/liberal Alliance for Sweden. The latter, consisting of the Moderate Party, the Liberal People's Party, the Centre Party and the Christian Democrats, governs Sweden since 2006 - since 2010 through a minority government. The Red-Greens were disbanded on 26 October 2010 but is still considered to be the main opposition. The Sweden Democrats party is not a member of any of these blocs, although they often support the Alliance in their decisions according to Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå, TT.
|Social Democratic Party||Stefan Löfven4||112||30.66%|
|Moderate Party||Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt||107||30.06%|
|Green Party||Åsa Romson and Gustav Fridolin||25||7.34%|
|Liberal People's Party||Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Education Jan Björklund||24||7.06%|
|Center Party||Minister for Enterprise Annie Lööf||23||6.56%|
|Sweden Democrats||Jimmie Åkesson||20||5.70%|
|Christian Democratic Party||Minister for Health and Social Affairs Göran Hägglund||19||5.60%|
|Left Party||Jonas Sjöstedt||19||5.60%|
Members of governing coalition in bold
1/ Party name and leaders current as of 27 January 2012
2/ Seats as per the 2010 general election, current as of 23 September 2010
3/ Percentage of the votes received in the 2010 general election
4/ Stefan Löfven is not a member of the Riksdag and is thus unable to participate in parliamentary activities and debates
All 349 members of the Riksdag are elected 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. A minimum of 4% of the national vote is required for a party to enter the Riksdag, alternatively 12% or more within a constituency. Substitutes for each deputy are elected at the same time as each election, so by-elections are rare. In the event of a snap election, the newly elected members merely serve the remainder of the four-year term.
Constituencies and national apportionment of seats
The electoral system in Sweden is proportional. Of the 349 seats in the unicameral Riksdag, 310 are fixed constituency seats allocated to constituencies in relation to the number of people entitled to vote in each constituency. The remaining 39 adjustment seats are used to correct the deviations from proportional national distribution that may arise when allocating the fixed constituency seats. There is a constraint in the system that means that only a party that has received at least four per cent of the votes in the whole country participates in the distribution of seats. However, a party that has received at least twelve per cent of the votes in a constituency participates in the distribution of the fixed constituency seats in that constituency.
A preliminary count of 5,668 voting districts showed the Alliance of Fredrik Reinfeld ahead of the Red-Greens, with 172 seats. This, however, fell short of the 175 seats needed for an absolute majority and the Sweden Democrats would apparently be holding the balance of power in the new parliament. Reinfeld declared that he had no intention to cooperate with the Sweden Democrats.
On 23 September, the final results showed the Centre Party gaining an adjustment seat in Dalarna, giving the Alliance a total seat count of 173, still two seats short of an absolute majority. The Alliance's Liberal People's Party ended up only 7 and 19 votes short from gaining additional seats in Gothenburg and Värmland respectively, but according to Svante Linusson, a mathematician and former politician for the Stockholm Party, the actual margin was still over 800 votes.
|Parties and coalitions||Votes||Permanent seats||Adjustment seats||Total seats||seats %/votes %|
|Swedish Social Democratic Party
Miljöpartiet de Gröna
|Liberal People's Party
|Swedish Senior Citizen Interest Party
Sveriges pensionärers intresseparti
|Socialist Justice Party
|Norrland Coalition Party
|Classical Liberal Party
Klassiskt Liberala Partiet
|Party of the Swedes
|Parties with less than 500 votes||2,929||1,837||0.05||0.03||-||-||-||-||-||-||0.00|
(Moderate Party, Liberal People's Party,
Centre Party, Christian Democrats)
(Social Democrats, Green Party, Left Party)
|All parties total||5,960,408||409,130||100.00%||-||310||-||39||-||349||-||-|
|Other invalid votes||2,336||120||0.04||0.00|
On the day after the election, anti-Sweden Democrat rallies took place in a number of Swedish cities. Reports indicated that 10,000 people were estimated to have marched in Stockholm under banners reading "We are ashamed", "No racists in Parliament", and "Refugees – welcome!". In Gothenburg, 5,000 people took part in a "sorrow march against racism", and 2,000 people marched in Malmö. Support for the Sweden Democrats was strongest in the southernmost province Scania, where the party received about 10% percent of the vote, and in the neighbouring province Blekinge, where they received 9.8 percent; the foreign media quoted "some people" from further north of the country as calling for Scania to be handed back to Denmark, where the Danish People's Party were seen as an inspiration for the SD.
Liberal evening tabloid Expressen wrote in an editorial "The banner of tolerance has been hauled down and the forces of darkness have finally also taken the Swedish democracy as hostage. It's a day of sorrow." Liberal conservative morning newspaper Svenska Dagbladet said "[It is] time for the Swedes to get themselves a new national self-image [as the election] created a new picture of Sweden".
- Instrument of Government, as of 2012. Retrieved on 2012-11-16.
- The Riksdag Act, as of 2012. Retrieved on 2012-11-16.
- Nöjd, Ruben; Tornberg, Astrid; Angström, Margareta (1978). "Riksdag (riksdagen)". Mckay's Modern English-Swedish and Swedish-English Dictionary. David Mckay. p. 147. ISBN 0-679-10079-2.
- Gullberg, Ingvar (1977). "Riksdag". Svensk-Engelsk Fackordbok. PA Norstedt & Söners Förlag. p. 741. ISBN 91-1-775052-0.
- "Riksdag". Nationalencyklopedin. 2014. Retrieved May 14, 2014.
- Holmes, Philip; Hinchliffe, Ian (2013). Swedish: A Comprehensive Grammar. Routledge. p. 670. ISBN 1134119984. Retrieved April 2, 2014.
- "Riksdag, n.". Oxford English Dictionary. June 2012. Retrieved May 14, 2014.
- The Swedish Constitution, Riksdagen
- Sveriges riksdag, pressmedelande
- "Hansson, Jenny (2008). De Folkvaldas Livsvillkor. Umea: Umea University.".
- "Alliansens femte parti". Aftonbladet. 2011-04-20.
- See e.g.: SOU 2008:125 En reformerad grundlag (Constitutional Reform), Prime Ministers Office.
- "Val till riksdagen-Röster- Sjöbo". Val.se. 22 September 2010. Retrieved 5 October 2010.
- Wikstrom, Cajsa (20 September 2010). "Swedish ruling bloc retains power". Al Jazeera English. Retrieved 20 September 2010.
- "Val till riksdagen - Valnatt" (in Swedish). val.se. 20 September 2010. Retrieved 21 September 2010.
- McGuinness, Damien (20 September 2010). "Sweden narrowly re-elects centre-right alliance". BBC Online. Retrieved 20 September 2010.
- Lannin, Patrick (20 September 2010). "Swedish centre-right wins ballot but loses majority". Reuters. Retrieved 20 September 2010.
- Stiernstedt, Jenny (20 September 2010). "Alliansen segrar – SD blir vågmästare". Dagens Nyheter (in Swedish). Retrieved 20 September 2010.
- "Val till riksdagen - Röster" (in Swedish). Swedish Election Authority. 23 September 2010. Retrieved 14 November 2010.
- "Alliansens majoritetsdröm upp i rök" (in Swedish). DN.se. 23 September 2010. Retrieved 22 September 2010.
- "Rösterna är färdigräknade" (in Swedish). SvD.se. 23 September 2010. Retrieved 23 September 2010.
- Superrysare, Aftonbladet
- "Mass demonstration: We are ashamed", Sveriges Radio.
- Magnusson, Niklas (21 September 2010). "Swedes Protest on Streets as Anti-Immigrants Enter Parliament". Bloomberg. Retrieved 26 September 2010.
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