Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
- Riksdag is also the Swedish name of the Parliament of Finland.
- Speaker of the Riksdag: Björn von Sydow (since september 2002)
- Chamber: Unicameral with 349 members
- Elections: Members are elected by popular vote on a proportional representation basis to serve four-year terms.
- Elections last held: September 15 2002 (next to be held September 17 2006)
Main article: Constitution of Sweden
The Riksdag (the Swedish Parliament) performs the normal functions of a parliament 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 King 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 by Parliament, in two successive electoral periods with a general election held in between.
Main article: Government of Sweden
After holding talks with leaders of the various party groups in the Riksdag, the Speaker of the Riksdag nominates a Prime Minister. To form a government, the Prime Minister designate must then present a list of Cabinet Ministers and have it approved by Parliament. Parliament can cast a vote of no confidence against any single member of the government, thus forcing a resignation. If a vote of no confidence is cast against the Prime Minister (Sw. Statsminister), this means the entire government is rejected, and the procedure of finding a government starts afresh.
Main article: Politics of Sweden
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.
For many years, no single political party in Sweden has managed to gain more than 50% of the votes, so political parties with similar agendas cooperate on several issues, forming coalition governments. In general, two major blocks exist in parliament, the left and the right, or socialists and non-socialists (conservatives/liberals). The socialists have formed the government for the last three electoral periods and won the election in 2002. Swedish socialism, as practiced by the governing Social Democratic party is generally non-confrontational with respect to capital/big business and social democratic in the tradition of the Second International rather than ideologically left-wing or working-class/trade-union-oriented.
Main article: Elections in Sweden
All 349 members of the Riksdag are appointed 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. The next elections are due to be held in 2006. As in Germany, a percentage threshold is applied for parties contesting elections, with a minimum of 4 percent support nationally required for membership of Parliament.
Main article: History of the Riksdag
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 to include representatives from all the four social estates: the nobility, the clergy, the bourgeoisie (propertied commoners in the towns such as merchants, tradesmen, lawyers, etc), and the peasantry (freehold yeoman 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 the 1920s.
Prior to the Constitutional reforms that brought a new Instrument of Government in 1974, the Riksdag underwent an important change in 1970. In 1865 it had been constituted as a political assembly with two chambers but the changes transformed it into a unicameral assembly with 350 seats. By chance, the first general election to the unicameral Riksdag in 1970 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 recurrence of this, the number of seats in Parliament was reduced to 349 in 1974.
Riksdag is the direct Swedish equivalent of the German Reichstag. A precise English translation of this German-Nordic word does not actually exist, but "Diet of the Realm" comes close. The word is also used by Swedish speakers for the parliaments of Finland (it is the official term used by the Swedish-speaking minority there) and Estonia, and for the old Reichstag of Germany as well as the building in Berlin. In Sweden Riksdag is today also frequently used to refer to the contemporary parliament of Germany per se. The word is also used by Norwegian speakers; in Danish it is spelled rigsdag.
- Sveriges Riksdag - Official site
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