The Riksdag, the Government, public authorities and agencies, and municipalities are examples of important actors in our public sector. Sweden has a large public sector, but what are the tasks of these actors and what are their roles in relation to each other?
It is the Riksdag that passes laws in Sweden. Decisions taken by the Riksdag apply to the whole country, so the Riksdag can be said to take decisions at the national level. The Riksdag does not, for example, decide whether a municipality should shut down a school or whether an upper secondary school should start charging for school lunches. It does, however, decide what charges the state should impose on its citizens, for example in the form of taxes.
Once the voters have chosen the 349 members who are to represent them in the Riksdag, the Riksdag appoints a prime minister. After this, the prime minister appoints the ministers who will be part of the Cabinet. The Government must enjoy the support of, or at any rate be tolerated by the Riksdag, otherwise it may be forced to resign. Whenever it wants, the Riksdag is free to hold a vote of confidence to see whether the Government still enjoys the Riksdag’s support. This is known as parliamentary government.
The Constitution states that the Government governs the country. It does this by presenting proposals – “Government bills” – on which the Riksdag then adopts a position. To put it simply, one can say that the Government proposes and the Riksdag decides.
The Swedish Government
Public authorities and agencies
There are some 330 public authorities and agencies in Sweden. Their task is to ensure that decisions taken by the Riksdag and the Government are implemented. If, for example, the Riksdag decides to send a peacekeeping force to Liberia, it is in practice the responsibility of the Swedish Armed Forces to ensure that this is carried out. If the Government decides on a new norm for social welfare allowance, it is the social welfare agencies that must ensure that the correct amount is paid out.
The public agencies are responsible to the Government and fall under the various Government ministries. In Sweden the agencies are independent and ministers may not attempt to control their business in detail.
Public agencies (the Swedish Government)