The Riksdag is the national legislative assembly
A parliament is a legislature, especially in those countries whose system of government is based on the Westminster system modeled after that of the United Kingdom. The name is derived from the French , the action of parler : a parlement is a discussion. The term came to mean a meeting at which...

 of Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

. The riksdag is a unicameral assembly with 349 members , who are elected on a proportional
Proportional representation
Proportional representation is a concept in voting systems used to elect an assembly or council. PR means that the number of seats won by a party or group of candidates is proportionate to the number of votes received. For example, under a PR voting system if 30% of voters support a particular...

 basis to serve fixed terms of four years. It is located in the Riksdag building
Riksdag building
The Riksdag building is the seat of the Parliament of Sweden. It is located on Helgeandsholmen in Stockholm.- History :...

 (Riksdagshuset), on the island of Helgeandsholmen
Helgeandsholmen is a small island in central Stockholm, Sweden. It is located north of Stadsholmen, and east of Strömsborg, with which, together with Riddarholmen, it forms Gamla stan, the old town of Stockholm...

 in Stockholm
Stockholm is the capital and the largest city of Sweden and constitutes the most populated urban area in Scandinavia. Stockholm is the most populous city in Sweden, with a population of 851,155 in the municipality , 1.37 million in the urban area , and around 2.1 million in the metropolitan area...



Riksdag is the direct Swedish equivalent of the German Reichstag. In the Swedish constitution, the word is written with a lower-case “r”, thus marking that it is actually not a name of the parliament, but that it is just “the parliament”.

A precise English translation of this German-Nordic word does not actually exist, but "Meeting of the Realm" may serve as a literal translation, though perhaps "Diet
Diet (assembly)
In politics, a diet is a formal deliberative assembly. The term is mainly used historically for the Imperial Diet, the general assembly of the Imperial Estates of the Holy Roman Empire, and for the legislative bodies of certain countries.-Etymology:...

 of the Realm" would be more accurate (dag literally means "day", and is thus either cognate
In linguistics, cognates are words that have a common etymological origin. This learned term derives from the Latin cognatus . Cognates within the same language are called doublets. Strictly speaking, loanwords from another language are usually not meant by the term, e.g...

 to the use of German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 tag for a Diet, or even a direct borrowing; the former comes from Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 dies with the same meaning). 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 parliament building
Reichstag (building)
The Reichstag building is a historical edifice in Berlin, Germany, constructed to house the Reichstag, parliament of the German Empire. It was opened in 1894 and housed the Reichstag until 1933, when it was severely damaged in a fire. During the Nazi era, the few meetings of members of the...

 in Berlin (reciprocally, "Reichstag" is the standard German translation of "riksdag"). In Sweden riksdag is today also frequently used to refer to the contemporary parliament house of Germany per se (but the Bundestag is called förbundsdag), and sometimes for national parliaments of other countries as well. The word is also used by Norwegian
Norwegian language
Norwegian is a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Norway, where it is the official language. Together with Swedish and Danish, Norwegian forms a continuum of more or less mutually intelligible local and regional variants .These Scandinavian languages together with the Faroese language...

 speakers with the same spelling; in Danish it is spelled rigsdag.


  • Speaker of the Riksdag
    Speaker of the Riksdag
    The Speaker of the Parliament of Sweden is the speaker of the national parliament in Sweden. The Riksdag underwent changes in 1867, when the old Riksdag of the Estates institution was abolished. The new form of the Riksdag included two chambers, each with its own Speaker...

    : Per Westerberg
    Per Westerberg
    Per Erik Gunnar Westerberg is a Swedish Moderate Party politician and as of 2006 the current Speaker of the Swedish Riksdag, of which he is a member since 1979, and thus also its most senior member ....

     (since October 2006)
  • Chamber: unicameral with 349 members
  • Elections: Members are elected by popular vote on a proportional representation basis to serve four-year terms. In the election year, the elections are held on the third Sunday of September, though pending legislation would move the election day to the second Sunday of September.
  • Elections last held: 19 September 2010


The riksdag 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
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 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 Monarch of Sweden
Monarch of Sweden
The monarchy of Sweden is the constitutional monarchy of the Kingdom of Sweden. The present monarch, Carl XVI Gustaf, has reigned since 15 September 1973. He and his immediate family undertake various official, ceremonial and representational duties...

 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 regular general election held in between.

An amendment must be introduced into Parliament nine months prior to such an election unless a 5/6 majority of the Committee on the Constitution
Committee on the Constitution (Parliament of Sweden)
The Committee on the Constitution is a committee in the Parliament of Sweden. The committee prepares matters concerning the constitution and the Parliament Act and other matters concerning legislation of a constitutional and general administrative nature, as well as matters relating to radio and...

 authorises it. If one tenth of the members motions for a referendum to block the amendment and one third of Parliament backs the motion, a referendum will be held. Such a referendum can only defeat a proposed amendment.


After holding talks with leaders of the various party groups in the Riksdag, the Speaker of the Riksdag nominates a Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Sweden
The Prime Minister is the head of government in the Kingdom of Sweden. Before the creation of the office of a Prime Minister in 1876, Sweden did not have a head of government separate from its head of state, namely the King, in whom the executive authority was vested...

. The nomination is then put to a vote. Unless an absolute majority of the members (175 members) vote "no", the nomination is confirmed, otherwise it is rejected. The Speaker must then find a new nominee. This means the Riksdag can consent to a Prime Minister without casting any "yes" votes.

After being elected the Prime Minister appoints the Cabinet Ministers and announces them to the Riksdag. The new government becomes effective with a first meeting held before the head of state, the King of Sweden, at which the Speaker of the Riksdag announces to the King that the Riksdag has elected a new government.

Parliament can cast a vote of no confidence against any single member of the government, thus forcing a resignation. To succeed a vote of no confidence must be supported by an absolute majority (175 members) or it has failed.

If a vote of no confidence is cast against the Prime Minister (Sw. Statsminister), this means the entire government is rejected. A losing government has one week to call for a general election or else the procedure of nominating a new Prime Minister starts afresh.


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 or other formalized alliances. Currently, two major blocs exist in parliament, the socialist
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

/green Red-Greens
Red-Greens (Sweden)
The Red-Greens was the name of a co-operation of red-green political parties in Sweden, publicly launched on 7 December 2008, largely based on the Norwegian ruling Red-Green Coalition. It consisted of the three parties in the Riksdag , sitting in opposition to the Alliance coalition government...

 and the conservative
Conservatism is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism...

Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 Alliance for Sweden. The latter, consisting of the Moderate Party, the Liberal People's Party, the Centre Party
and the Christian Democrats, governs Sweden since 2006 - since 2010 through a minority government
Minority government
A minority government or a minority cabinet is a cabinet of a parliamentary system formed when a political party or coalition of parties does not have a majority of overall seats in the parliament but is sworn into government to break a Hung Parliament election result. It is also known as a...

. The Red-Greens
Red-Greens (Sweden)
The Red-Greens was the name of a co-operation of red-green political parties in Sweden, publicly launched on 7 December 2008, largely based on the Norwegian ruling Red-Green Coalition. It consisted of the three parties in the Riksdag , sitting in opposition to the Alliance coalition government...

 were disbanded on 26 October 2010 but is still considered to be the main opposition.
The Sweden Democrats party is not a member of any of these blocs, although they often support the Alliance in their decisions according to Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå, TT .
Current party representation in the Riksdag
Parties¹ Leaders¹ Seats² Votes³
  Social Democratic Party
Swedish Social Democratic Party
The Swedish Social Democratic Workers' Party, , contesting elections as 'the Workers' Party – the Social Democrats' , or sometimes referred to just as 'the Social Democrats' and most commonly as Sossarna ; is the oldest and largest political party in Sweden. The party was founded in 1889...

Håkan Juholt
Håkan Juholt
Håkan Juholt, born 16 September 1962, is a Swedish photographer, journalist, and Social Democratic politician who has been a member of the Riksdag since 1994, representing Kalmar län...

112 30.66%
  Moderate Party
Moderate Party
The Moderate Party is a centre-right, liberal conservative political party in Sweden. The party was founded in 1904 as the General Electoral League by a group of conservatives in the Swedish parliament...

Prime Minister
Prime minister
A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. In many systems, the prime minister selects and may dismiss other members of the cabinet, and allocates posts to members within the government. In most systems, the prime...

 Fredrik Reinfeldt
Fredrik Reinfeldt
John Fredrik Reinfeldt is the Prime Minister of Sweden, leader of the liberal conservative Moderate Party and former President of the European Council...

107 30.06%
  Green Party
Green Party (Sweden)
-External links:**...

Åsa Romson
Åsa Romson
Åsa Elisabeth Romson is a Swedish Green Party politician. She is amember of the Swedish parliament since the2010 election....

 and Gustav Fridolin
Gustav Fridolin
Per Gustav Edvard Fridolin is a Swedish Green Party politician. He is a member of the Swedish parliament since the 2010 election, representing the Skåne County North and East constituency.- Biography :...

25 7.34%
  Liberal People's Party
Liberal People's Party (Sweden)
The Liberal People's Party is a political party in Sweden. The party advocates social liberalism and is part of the governing centre-right coalition The Alliance, which achieved a majority in the general election of 17 September 2006...

Jan Björklund
Jan Björklund
Jan Arne Björklund is a Swedish politician. He is the leader of the Liberal People's Party and serves as Minister for Education and Deputy Prime Minister in the Swedish government.- Education and military career :...

24 7.06%
  Centre Party
Centre Party (Sweden)
The Centre Party is a centrist political party in Sweden. The party maintains close ties to rural Sweden and describes itself as "a green social liberal party". The ideology is sometimes called agrarian, but in a European context, the Centre Party can perhaps best be characterized as social...

Annie Lööf 23 6.56%
  Sweden Democrats
Sweden Democrats
The Sweden Democrats is a political party in Sweden, founded in 1988. SD describes itself as a nationalist movement although others use the term far-right. Since 2005, its party chairman is Jimmie Åkesson, while Björn Söder is the party secretary and parliamentary group leader. An Anemone...

Jimmie Åkesson
Jimmie Åkesson
Per Jimmie Åkesson is a Swedish politician. He is the current leader of the Sweden Democrats and a member of the Swedish parliament following the 2010 general election. He is under constant protection by the Swedish Security Service.- Biography :...

20 5.70%
  Christian Democratic Party
Christian Democrats (Sweden)
The Christian Democrats ) is a political party in Sweden. The party was founded in 1964 but did not enter parliament until 1985 in an electoral cooperation with the Centre Party and on the Christian Democrats' own accord in 1991. The leader since April 3, 2004 is Göran Hägglund. He succeeded Alf...

Göran Hägglund
Göran Hägglund
Bo Göran Hägglund is a Swedish politician and the current leader of the Christian Democrats of Sweden . He was elected Party Leader on 3 April 2004, succeeding Alf Svensson...

19 5.60%
  Left Party
Left Party (Sweden)
The Left Party is a socialist and feminist political party in Sweden, from 1967 to 1990 known as the Left Party – The Communists .On welfare issues, the party opposes privatizations...

Lars Ohly
Lars Ohly
Lars-Magnus Harald Christoffer Ohly is a Swedish politician, currently serving as party chairman of the Swedish Left Party, in August 2011 Ohly announced his resignation. He was elected party chairman on 20 February 2004, succeeding Ulla Hoffmann....

19 5.60%
Total 349 98.58%
Government Minority 2 0.02%

1/ Party name and leaders current as of 23 September 2010

2/ Seats as per the 2010 general election
Swedish general election, 2010
A general election to the Riksdag, parliament of Sweden, was held on . The main contenders of the election were the governing centre-right coalition the Alliance and the oppositional centre-left Red-Greens coalition A general election to the Riksdag, parliament of Sweden, was held on . The main...

, current as of 23 September 2010

3/ Percentage of the votes received in the 2010 general election

4/ Members of governing coalition in bold


All 349 members of the Riksdag are elected 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. A minimum of 4% of the national vote is required for membership in Parliament, alternatively 12% or more within a constituency. Substitutes for each deputy are elected at the same time as each election, so by-election
A by-election is an election held to fill a political office that has become vacant between regularly scheduled elections....

s are rare. In the event of a snap election
Snap election
A snap election is an election called earlier than expected. Generally it refers to an election in a parliamentary system called when not required , usually to capitalize on a unique electoral opportunity or to decide a pressing issue...

, the newly elected members merely serve the remainder of the four-year term.

Constituencies and national apportionment of seats

The electoral system in Sweden is proportional
Proportional representation
Proportional representation is a concept in voting systems used to elect an assembly or council. PR means that the number of seats won by a party or group of candidates is proportionate to the number of votes received. For example, under a PR voting system if 30% of voters support a particular...

. Of the 349 seats in the unicameral Riksdag, 310 are fixed constituency seats allocated to constituencies in relation to the number of people entitled to vote in each constituency. The remaining 39 adjustment seats are used to correct the deviations from proportional national distribution that may arise when allocating the fixed constituency seats. There is a constraint in the system that means that only a party that has received at least four per cent of the votes in the whole country participates in the distribution of seats. However, a party that has received at least twelve per cent of the votes in a constituency participates in the distribution of the fixed constituency seats in that constituency.

2010 election

As exit polls conducted by the national broadcaster Swedish Television predicted, the Sweden Democrats reached the 4% threshold to enter parliament for the first time.

A preliminary count of 5,668 voting districts showed the Alliance of Fredrik Reinfeld ahead of the Red-Greens, with 172 seats. This, however, fell short of the 175 seats needed for an absolute majority and the Sweden Democrats would apparently be holding the balance of power in the new parliament. Reinfeld declared that he had no intention to cooperate with the Sweden Democrats.

On 23 September, the final results showed the Centre Party gaining an adjustment seat in Dalarna
Dalarna County
Dalarna County is a county or län in middle Sweden. It borders the counties of Jämtland, Gävleborg, Västmanland, Örebro and Värmland. It is also bordered by the Norwegian counties of Hedmark and Sør-Trøndelag in the west...

, giving the Alliance a total seat count of 173, still two seats short of an absolute majority. The Alliance's Liberal People's Party ended up only 7 and 19 votes short from gaining additional seats in Gothenburg
Gothenburg Municipality
Gothenburg Municipality is a municipality in Västra Götaland County in western Sweden. Its seat is located in the city of Gothenburg....

 and Värmland
Värmland County
Värmland County is a county or län in west central Sweden. It borders the Swedish counties of Dalarna, Örebro and Västra Götaland, as well as the Norwegian counties of Østfold, Akershus and Hedmark to the west.- Province :...

  respectively, but according to Svante Linusson, a mathematician and former politician for the Stockholm Party
Stockholm Party
Stockholmspartiet is a Political Party in Sweden, registered for the Municipal and County Council elections. It was founded in 1979 and was represented in the Stockholm city council from 1979-2002. It failed to reach enough votes to return in the elections of 2006.The Party has a political base of...

, the actual margin was still over 800 votes.


On the day after the election, anti-Sweden Democrat rallies took place in a number of Swedish cities. Reports indicated that 10,000 people were estimated to have marched in Stockholm
Stockholm is the capital and the largest city of Sweden and constitutes the most populated urban area in Scandinavia. Stockholm is the most populous city in Sweden, with a population of 851,155 in the municipality , 1.37 million in the urban area , and around 2.1 million in the metropolitan area...

 under banners reading "We are ashamed", "No racists in Parliament", and "Refugees – welcome!". In Gothenburg
Gothenburg is the second-largest city in Sweden and the fifth-largest in the Nordic countries. Situated on the west coast of Sweden, the city proper has a population of 519,399, with 549,839 in the urban area and total of 937,015 inhabitants in the metropolitan area...

, 5,000 people took part in a "sorrow march against racism", and 2,000 people marched in Malmö
Malmö , in the southernmost province of Scania, is the third most populous city in Sweden, after Stockholm and Gothenburg.Malmö is the seat of Malmö Municipality and the capital of Skåne County...

. Support for the Sweden Democrats was strongest in the southernmost province Scania
Scania is the southernmost of the 25 traditional non-administrative provinces of Sweden, constituting a peninsula on the southern tip of the Scandinavian peninsula, and some adjacent islands. The modern administrative subdivision Skåne County is almost, but not totally, congruent with the...

, where the party received about 10% percent of the vote, and in the neighbouring province Blekinge
' is one of the traditional provinces of Sweden , situated in the south of the country. It borders Småland, Scania and the Baltic Sea.The name "Blekinge" comes from the adjective bleke, which corresponds to the nautical term for "dead calm"....

, where they received 9.8 percent; the foreign media quoted "some people" from further north of the country as calling for Scania to be handed back to Denmark, where the Danish People's Party were seen as an inspiration for the SD.

Liberal evening tabloid Expressen
Expressen is one of two nationwide evening tabloid newspapers in Sweden, the other being Aftonbladet. Expressen was founded in 1944; its symbol is a wasp and slogans "it stings" or "Expressen to your rescue", always on the reader's side....

wrote in an editorial "The banner of tolerance has been hauled down and the forces of darkness have finally also taken the Swedish democracy as hostage. It's a day of sorrow." Liberal conservative morning newspaper Svenska Dagbladet
Svenska Dagbladet
Svenska Dagbladet is a daily newspaper in Sweden. The first issue appeared on 18 December 1884. Svenska Dagbladet is published in Stockholm and provides coverage of national and international news as well as local coverage of the Greater Stockholm region...

said "[It is] time for the Swedes to get themselves a new national self-image [as the election] created a new picture of Sweden".

Members of the Riksdag

As of 2008, 47 percent of the members of the riksdag are women. This is the world's second highest proportion of females in a national parliament—behind only Rwanda
Rwanda or , officially the Republic of Rwanda , is a country in central and eastern Africa with a population of approximately 11.4 million . Rwanda is located a few degrees south of the Equator, and is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo...

—and the highest in the industrialized world. According to a survey investigation by the sociologist Jenny Hansson,

A member of the riksdag is working full time with his mandate and has a salary of 56 000 SEK (around $ 8,800) per month. Swedish national parliamentarians have an average work week of 66 hours, including side responsibilities. Hansson's investigation further reports that the average Swedish national parliamentarian sleeps 6.5 hours per night.


Main articles: History of the Riksdag
History of the Riksdag
The Riksdag or Sveriges Riksdag is the Parliament of Sweden. However when it was founded in 1866 Sweden did not have a parliamentary system of government. The national parliaments of Estonia and Finland are also called Riksdag in Swedish....

, Riksdag of the Estates
Riksdag of the Estates
The Riksdag of the Estates , was the name used for the Estates of the Swedish realm when they were assembled. Until its dissolution in 1866, the institution was the highest authority in Sweden next to the King...

The roots of the modern Riksdag can be found in a 1435 meeting of the Swedish nobility in the city of Arboga
Arboga is a locality and the seat of Arboga Municipality in Västmanland County, Sweden with 10,369 inhabitants in 2005.-Overview:The city of Arboga is known to have existed as a town since the 13th century but the area has been inhabited since around 900 AD...

. This informal organization was modified in 1527 by the first modern Swedish king Gustav I Vasa to include representatives from all the four social estates
Estates of the realm
The Estates of the realm were the broad social orders of the hierarchically conceived society, recognized in the Middle Ages and Early Modern period in Christian Europe; they are sometimes distinguished as the three estates: the clergy, the nobility, and commoners, and are often referred to by...

: the nobility, the clergy, the bourgeoisie (propertied commoners in the towns such as merchants, tradesmen, lawyers, etc.), and the peasantry (freehold yeoman
Yeoman refers chiefly to a free man owning his own farm, especially from the Elizabethan era to the 17th century. Work requiring a great deal of effort or labor, such as would be done by a yeoman farmer, came to be described as "yeoman's work"...

 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 1917.

On 22 June 1866, the Riksdag decided to reconstitute itself as a bicameral legislature, consisting of Första kammaren or the First Chamber, with 155 members and Andra kammaren or the Second Chamber with 233 members. The First Chamber was indirectly elected by county and city councillors, while the Second Chamber was directly elected by universal suffrage. This reform was a result of great malcontent with the old Estates which were no longer able to represent the people.

By an amendment of the Swedish constitution the general election of 1970 was the first to a unicameral assembly with 350 seats. The following general election to the unicameral Riksdag in 1973 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 from 1976.

External links

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