1.5 Division and interlinkage of the political and the administrative system

Sweden is a democratic state governed by the rule of law, with a monarchical form of government, parliamentarianism and a strong municipal self-government. All public power shall "proceed from the people". The "foremost representative" of the people is the Riksdag that makes laws, decides on the income and expenditure of the state and exercises parliamentary control. The Government "governs the Realm" and is accountable to the Riksdag. The Riksdag can, by a declaration of no confidence, force the resignation or the whole Government or of an individual minister. It also has the right to vote on a Prime Minister proposed in advance by the Speaker. To govern the realm means, inter alia, that the Government has a right to command the state administration, both domestically and abroad, as well as to make the decisions of the Riksdag more specific with detailed regulations and decisions in individual cases. The importance of municipal self-government is strongly emphasised.

In practice, the Government of Sweden, like that of many other countries, has greater powers than is stated by the letter of the law. However, both within legislation as well as for budget matters the general trend is that both the Riksdag as well as the Government are primarily concerned with larger and more general decisions. Most of the rules in society are made by state or municipal authorities.

The basic regulations for the state that is governed by the rule of law have also been included in the Instrument of Government. These include the Principle of Legality which means that all exercise of power shall be bound by norms: "public power shall be exercised under the law" (Instrument of Government, 1:1). Furthermore the principle of the equal worth of all is laid down, as well as the duty of all authorities to observe objectivity and impartiality (Instrument of Government, 1:9). The independence of courts and administrative authorities when determining individual cases and matters is also guaranteed through rules (Instrument of Government, 11:2, 7) that no-one, not even the Riksdag or the decision-making body of a municipality, may interfere with that activity.

Basic rights and freedoms form an important part of the Instrument of Government (Chapter 2). Sweden has also ratified the European convention on this and since 1 January 1995 this has been included into national Swedish law. An expression of old Swedish traditions can be found in the two separate constitutional acts in the field of basic rights that exist alongside the Instrument of Government: the Freedom of the Press Act and the Fundamental Law on the Freedom of Expression.

Sweden joined the EU on 1 January 1995 following a referendum. Certain important tasks concerning regulation and economy, etc., have therefore been transferred to the bodies of the EU. This has repercussions not only for the Riksdag and Government but also a long way into the state level and municipal administration.