A democratic system with free elections
Sweden is a democracy with a parliamentary form of government, which means that all public power proceeds from the people. Laws are passed by the Riksdag, a parliament of 349 members elected by the people every four years. Following each election, the Speaker of the Riksdag proposes a new prime minister. The Prime Minister is then appointed by the Riksdag and tasked with forming a government. The Government, led by a prime minister, governs Sweden.
Formally, Sweden is a constitutional monarchy with King Carl XVI Gustaf as head of state. The monarch has a symbolic function as head of state and almost exclusively ceremonial duties.
When general elections are held in Sweden, the seven million people entitled to vote have an opportunity to influence who will represent the people in the Riksdag, county councils and municipalities. The turnout in the 2010 parliamentary election was 84 per cent.
To vote in the three elections, you must have turned 18 on election day at the latest. Various specific rules also apply:
To vote in the parliamentary election you must be a Swedish citizen and be, or have been, registered as a resident in Sweden.
To vote in municipal and county council elections you must be a Swedish citizen or:
- a citizen of an EU country, Iceland or Norway, and registered as a resident in the municipality/county council area concerned, or
- a citizen of another country not listed above, have been registered as a resident in Sweden for at least three consecutive years and be registered as a resident in the municipality/county council area concerned.
In addition to voting in elections, there are other ways to influence policy in Sweden. These include joining a political party, submitting views on inquiry reports and taking part in referendums.
Every five years there are also elections to the European Parliament, the only EU institution that is directly elected. Everyone who is a national of an EU Member State and is registered as resident in Sweden is entitled to vote in Sweden. The next elections will take place in 2014.