1.3 Main specifics of the constitutional systemThe Riksdag has 16 permanent committees. Matters relating to housing policy, physical planning, expropriation, cadastral survey, county administration and the administrative division of the country (e.g. sub-division into municipalities) are dealt with by the Housing Committee. The majority of the work in the Riksdag is concentrated to the committees. The committees prepare all proposals from the Government (government bills, propositioner), from the members of the Riksdag (private members' bills, motioner) as well as the proposals and reports from the institutions of the Riksdag, e.g. the Swedish National Bank (Riksbanken). The committees have a right of initiative in matters within their field of activity. This means that they can put forward proposals to the Riksdag. This right of initiative is, however, used very restrictively. All matters must be dealt with by the committees that then deliver a proposal decision to the Riksdag. It is not possible to stop matters in the committees. Decisions in the Riksdag are taken by simple majority and are notified to the Government by a written communication signed by the speaker.
A special committee - the committee on EU affairs - has been established so that the Government can inform the Riksdag on matters that have been dealt with and decided in the EU. The Instrument of Government states that the task of the Riksdag is to make laws and to decide about taxes to the state and on how the funds of the state will be distributed. These powers are referred to as the legislative and the financial powers of the Riksdag. The Riksdag is also to review how the realm is governed and administered. These is called the control powers of the Riksdag.
The tasks of the Government
The Speaker of the Riksdag proposes a Prime Minister to the Riksdag after consultations with the party leaders and the deputy speakers. Unless a majority of the members of the Riksdag vote against the proposed Prime Minister he or she is appointed by the Riksdag. The Riksdag only approves the Prime Minister. He or she appoints the other members of Government him/herself and informs the Riksdag of their names when he/she delivers his/her Statement of Government Policy (regeringsförklaring).
Since a couple of decades the Swedish Government has consisted of about 20 persons. The Government Offices are currently divided into 13 ministries. Each ministry is headed by a minister who is the Head of the Ministry. Other ministers have their own areas of responsibility within these 13 ministries. One minister is the Deputy Prime Minister and belongs to the Prime Minister's Office. Matters concerning physical planning are currently considered and handled at The Ministry of the Environment. In addition to the ministers, there are a few political appointees in the ministries. These can be State Secretaries, Press Secretaries and certain expert advisors. Other civil servants retain their posts through changes in Government.
In the majority of cases, the Government makes decisions collectively. The constitution prescribes that decisions should be prepared in the Government Offices which includes the ministries. The most commonly used method of preparing for a decision is a departmental preparation, which consists of a presentation by a civil servant to the Head of the Ministry. She or he then decides on a proposal decision, which is formally determined as the Government's decision at the next Government meeting. All other ministries have received the information about the proposal decision. If any minister has objections he or she has to notify this. If no objections are notified the decision is formally recorded as the Government's decision without a presentation at the Government meeting. More important matters or matters concerning several ministries are considered at a general preparation where all ministers meet, or at a common preparation involving the ministers concerned. The ministers can then agree on the stance of the Government.
The tasks of the Head of State
The King or Queen is the Head of State. Detailed rules on the succession can be found in the Act of Succession. The Head of State does not have any political power. His/her tasks are of an entirely representative or ceremonial nature. Changes of Government take place in a special cabinet council headed by the monarch. In addition, the monarch has to declare the Riksdag open at the start of the parliamentary year and chair the meetings of the Advisory Council of Foreign Affairs. Furthermore, the monarch should be a representative and symbol for the country.