Sweden: Party‐dominated Subnational Democracy Under Challenge?

Anders Lidström

in The Oxford Handbook of Local and Regional Democracy in Europe

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199562978
Published online January 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Politics & International Relations

Sweden: Party‐dominated Subnational Democracy Under Challenge?

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This article discusses Sweden, its political system and the challenges faced by its subnational democracy. Sweden was established when the Kalmar Union was abolished. With the accession of a new king, a unified form of a state with a centralized government was established. This afforded the king a stronger position, included a national four-estate assembly, and introduced a coherent legal system. From the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth century, Sweden underwent extensive modernization. Democracy was introduced and parliamentarism succeeded the medieval four-estate national assembly. The development of the Swedish state was furthered by the establishment of a comprehensive public welfare system. Today, the political system of Sweden is a representative democracy. The formal base of the Swedish democracy is a constitutional monarchy although the monarch no longer has formal powers. Swedish democracy is defined as ‘rule by the people’. This states that the Swedish democracy is realized through a representative and parliamentary system and a local government. While the Swedish system of subnational government is based on the strong institutions of representative democracy, it is now facing major challenges. Major challenges which include demands for new reforms of representative democracy, demands for the expansion of the citizen's direct involvement in local decision making, and regional transformation.

Keywords: Sweden; political system; democracy; parliamentarism; Swedish state; representative democracy; Swedish democracy; subnational government

Article.  8509 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; Regional Political Studies ; Comparative Politics

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