Sweden's four fundamental laws

Last updated: 4 10 2018

Image Boken om Sverige
This material is from the book About Sweden.

Laws and rules are required in order for a democracy to function. The fundamental laws are the most important laws in Sweden. The fundamental laws form the basis of other laws and create a framework for the governance of Sweden. The protect democracy and are superior to all other laws. This means that the content of the country's other laws may not conflict with what is stated in the fundamental laws.

In order to guarantee this framework so that no one is able to carry out a coup d'etat following an election, these laws cannot be changed easily. In order for a fundamental law to be changed, it is normally necessary for the Riksdag to make the same decision twice. A general election also has to take place between these two decisions. Accordingly, this rule is in place to prevent the central government making decisions with excessive haste. The additional thinking time provides the opportunity for everyone to carefully consider the change to the law. The fundamental laws protect our democracy. There are four fundamental laws in Sweden:

  • The Instrument of Government which describes how Sweden is to be governed. The current Instrument of Government is from 1974. This contains rules about how the Government is to work and how elections to the Riksdag are to take place. The Instrument of Government also contains laws about the fundamental freedoms and rights. For example, the Instrument of Government states that everyone has a right to freedom of association and freedom of religion.
  • The Act of Succession which deals with who may become king or queen in Sweden.
  • The Freedom of the Press Act which is about what may be written in newspapers and books. In Sweden, people can write whatever they want, provided the text is not criminal.
  • The Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression which deals with what can be said on the radio, TV, in films and on the internet. In Sweden, people can say what they like, with certain exceptions. For example, people are not allowed to say things that are to others. This can relate to what is said about an individual or a group.