What is democracy?

Democracy means government by the people or people's power. A fundamental idea behind democracy is that the citizens or residents in a county should have the opportunity to exercise political influence, for example, by means of regular elections.

Another fundamental idea behind democracy is that all human beings are of equal value and should enjoy the same rights. In a democracy, everyone is free to think and believe what they want and to express their opinions openly in speech or writing.

Democracy can function in different ways

Democracies can function in different ways and the way the democratic system is organised varies from country to country. Most democratic countries have what is known as representative democracy. This means that the residents elect the politicians who will represent them and run the country in regular elections.

When residents are given the opportunity to help to decide a specific matter, for example, in a referendum, it is known as direct democracy. In Sweden, national referendums have been held, for example, on nuclear energy and membership of the EU. This type of referendum is consultative in Sweden, and the politicians are not obliged to observe the results.

There is also the possibility of holding a referendum on a pending decision on a fundamental law. The result can then, under certain conditions, be binding. Such a referendum has yet to take place in Sweden.

Representative democracy

Sweden has a representative democracy. This means that we elect our representatives to the Riksdag, the municipalities, the regions and the European Parliament. The Instrument of Government states that all public power proceeds from the people and that the Riksdag is the foremost representative of the people. Parliamentary, municipal and regional elections are held every four years. European Parliament elections take place every five years.

Elections every four years in Sweden

The Instrument of Government, which is one of the fundamental laws that forms part of the Swedish Constitution, states that all public power proceeds from the people and that the Riksdag is the foremost representative of the people. As such, the Riksdag is an important component of Swedish democracy.

The Riksdag is the highest decision-making assembly in Sweden. Its tasks include passing laws and determining the central government budget. The Riksdag also examines the work of the Government.

Swedish parliamentary elections are held every four years, when the citizens of Sweden appoint 349 members of the Riksdag. The elected members of the Riksdag represent the Swedish people and their task is to ensure that the people’s will permeates the decisions taken by the Riksdag. The party or parties with a sufficient number of seats in the Riksdag to obtain support for its/their policies forms/form a government. This is known as parliamentary government.

Anyone wishing to stand for election must be entitled to vote in the parliamentary election and be nominated by a political party.

The King is Head of State 

The highest individual representative of a country is known as its Head of State. In Sweden, this position is held by a King or Queen. The Head of State has no political power however, and their duties are mainly of a representative nature.

As Head of State, the King or Queen is responsible for opening the new parliamentary session each autumn. The Head of State also chairs the Advisory Council on Foreign Affairs.

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