Last updated: 12/5-2023

Sweden is a democracy. This means that all public power proceeds from the people. The people govern by electing parties or persons that then have the right to make important decisions. These elected people are known as politicians. They make decisions in the Riksdag (parliament), the regional assemblies and the municipal assemblies.

Some fundamental principles in Swedish society

  • Freedom of speech and of the press – Every individual must be allowed to express their thoughts, opinions and feelings in speech and in writing.
  • Freedom of association – Every individual has the right to join or to start an association.
  • Freedom of religion or belief – Every individual has the right to decide freely if they want to practice a religion. Freedom of religion is regarded as one of the fundamental human rights.
  • The rule of law – All people must be equal before the law. A person must be regarded as innocent until he or she is found guilty by a court of law.

Sweden is governed via the state, regions and municipalities

National level (Riksdag and government)

  • The Riksdag has the legislative power, or the power to make laws.
  • The Riksdag represents the people at the national level.
  • The government governs Sweden by ensuring that the Riksdag's decisions are implemented, and it also proposes new laws and changes to existing laws.
  • The government carries out its work through Regeringskansliet (the Government Offices) and about 350 government agencies.

Regional level (Regions and counties)

  • Sweden is made up of 21 counties. Each county has a state regional authority known as Länsstyrelsen (the County Administrative Board).
  • There are also 21 regions. These are led by politicians who have been elected by the people. The main tasks of regions are to manage medical, health and dental care services, and public transport.
  • Counties and regions cover the same geographical areas, and are therefore regarded as the regional level. The highest decision-making body at this level is the regional assembly. The work done by the regions is governed by Kommunallagen (the Local Government Act).

Local level (municipalities)

  • Sweden has 290 municipalities.
  • Municipalities are responsible for most public services provided in the place where you live. This includes preschools, schools, social services and elder care.
  • Municipalities are run by politicians elected by the people. The highest decision-making body in municipalities is the municipal assembly.
  • Municipalities' work is governed by Kommunallagen (the Local Government Act).

European level (EU)

  • Sweden has to follow the EU's rules, and participates in making new EU rules.
  • The government represents Sweden in the Council of Europe and the Council of the European Union (often referred to as the Council of Ministers or the Council).

Film about Sweden