Sweden is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy. It is governed under the constitution of 1975, which replaced the constitution of 1809. The 1975 constitution eliminated the last vestiges of monarchical power in governing the country. The monarch remained head of state, an exclusively ceremonial post, but no longer was supreme commander of the armed forces and ceased to preside over cabinet meetings. All power was defined as emanating from the people. The constitution includes a lengthy bill of rights. The monarchy is hereditary in the direct line of the house of Bernadotte. The constitution was amended in 1978 to permit the first born royal child, whether male or female, to succeed to the throne; the measure went into effect in 1980. Previously, only males could inherit the throne.
In Sweden executive power is vested in the cabinet, or government, which is responsible to the unicameral (single-chamber) national legislature, the Riksdag. The cabinet is composed of a prime minister and department ministers and ministers without portfolio. When a new government is formed, the prime minister is nominated by the speaker of the Riksdag, and members of the Riksdag must then approve the nomination. To remain in office, the prime minister and cabinet must retain the confidence of the Riksdag. In addition to the cabinet ministries some 50 central agencies administer government-operated services. These agencies, which are headed by government-appointed directors, are nominally subordinate to the cabinet ministries but actually function independently of them.
In 1971 the Riksdag, formerly a bicameral (two-chamber) body, was changed to a unicameral legislature with 350 popularly elected members; the 1975 constitution reduced the number of members to 349 to prevent tie votes. Members of the Riksdag are elected to terms of four years by the voters under a system of proportional representation. All citizens age 18 or older are eligible to vote.
The Swedish judiciary is entirely independent of the other branches of government and comprises a three-tier system of courts: the Supreme Court, six courts of appeal, and district and city courts. The Supreme Court is the court of final appeal in all cases and may also consider new evidence. The appeals courts, in addition to having appellate jurisdiction, are responsible for the administration of the court system in their areas and for the further training of judges. District and city courts are courts of first instance. They are presided over by judges who are assisted by a popularly elected panel, usually consisting of from three to five laypersons. Juries are used only in press libel suits.
A special feature of the Swedish judicial system, copied in recent years by other countries, is the official known as the ombudsman. This official’s duty is to oversee how the courts and administrators observe and apply the laws. An ombudsman may investigate complaints by any citizen and initiate investigations and can bring evidence of error or wrongdoing before a court. Ombudsmen are appointed by the Riksdag for a term of four years. "Sweden" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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