Legislation is a set of rules that everyone residing in a country is obliged to follow. One of the key tasks of the Riksdag is to make decisions concerning Swedish legislation. A law can, for example, concern the penalty for shoplifting offences or the decommissioning of a nuclear power station.
The Riksdag is the only public body with the authority to adopt new laws or to amend existing legislation. A law that has been adopted can only be annulled or amended through a new decision by the Riksdag.
The Government can also adopt rules that everyone residing in Sweden must follow, but these rules are known as ordinances. The Instrument of Government, which is one of Sweden's fundamental laws, stipulates what must be decided by law and what can be decided by an ordinance.
Proposals from the Government
Proposals for new laws, or amendments to laws that are already in force, usually come from the Government in the form of a Government bill. A proposal for new legislation can also be submitted by one or more members of the Riksdag in the form of a private member's motion.
If the Government, for example, wants to introduce a new law containing tougher rules on alcohol advertising, it must first submit a proposal to the Riksdag. For the proposal to be adopted as a law, a majority of the members of the Riksdag must then vote in favour of it. The Riksdag notifies the Government of its decision, which then issues the new law and ensures that it is implemented in the way intended by the Riksdag.
In May 2004, the Government did in fact submit such a proposal to the Riksdag. In November, the Riksdag decided to adopt stricter regulations on alcohol advertising and these regulations entered into force on 1 January 2005.
All laws and ordinances are published in the Swedish Code of Statutes (Svensk Författningssamling, SFS), which is available in printed form and on the Internet.
Swedish statutes in translation (the Government)