The weather over the last couple of days was not really pleasant with the sunlight barely passing through the thick layers of clouds. This is why I thought it would be much better to visit something with internal heating instead of strolling around the centre freezing to death. I chose Riksdag – unicameral parliament of the Swedish Monarchy.
Riksdag is located on a small island: Helgeandsholmen. I give the name because after living over a year now in Sweden I still didn’t know it, even though the place is probably familiar to most of us. To get there, you just have to follow Drottningsgatan – one of the most representative streets in Stockholm – in the direction of Gamla Stan. Upon entering Helgeandsholmen, Drottningsgatan will evolve into Riksbro and, subsequently, Riksgatan, where the entrance for visitors is located (Riksgatan 3).
The Riksdag, as in many European countries, gives the goverment its approval and is the prinicpal decision-making body for a considerable period of time. The citizens elect their representatives every 4 years (if not a coup d’état takes places, of which I have never heard in the last years), who in turn make the necessary decisions and control the legislature of the whole state. The King – currently Carl XVI Gustav – as the Head of State in Sweden, has nowadays no political power.
Sweden utilizes the proportional representation system of voting, which means that the number of seats the party is granted is related to the absolute number of votes received in the election. To reduce the number of too numerous small political parties, there is a threshold of 4% of the votes in the entire country the party must receive in order to get into the Riksdag. Sweden is divided into 29 constituencies that correspond to its counties, from Norrboten to Skåne Södra. This denotes that the members of the Parliament come from all parts of the country. The overall number of seats in the Riksdag is 349, and the winning party – Social Democratic Party – got 113 seats in the last elections. What is interesting, the SocDem party rules over Sweden in coalition with the Green Party, having 25 seats, which still does not give them the majority of votes. Saying that, the coalition, in order to pass the bill, still has to convince the members of at least one other party to support them. The two biggest opposition parties are: Moderate Party (Mod – 84 seats), and Sweden Democrats (SweDem – 49 seats).
Overlooking the waters of Stockholm, the Riksdag is still tightly connected to the other ruling bodies, including Ministries, the Government Office and the House of the Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven.
Voters must be Swedish citizens and 18 years of age by election date at the latest. Almost 86% of the entitled people participated in the last elections, which is an extraordinary result when compared to the world standards. Next general election is scheduled on the 9th of September 2018.
The former Second Chamber (in the photo above) in the East Wing of the Riksdag building is currently used as a meeting room by the largest party group, aforementioned Social Democrats. The largest opposition group, the Moderates, meets in the former First Chamber.
The Riksdag building complex was designed by Aron Johansson in the neoclassical style. Whereas the interiors of rooms for committe meetings are mostly wooden with shiny, just polished tables and bookcases, the corridors along with staircases are filled with green marble covered by endless carpets, making it look very distinguished and sophisticated.
To all of you interested in visiting the Riksdag, where all the most important issues for Sweden are discussed, there are tours with English- and Swedish-speaking guide every Saturday and Sunday at 1.30 p.m.
As always, don’t hesitate to ask me questions regarding all the matters connected to studying and living in Sweden.
(sources: Riksdag promotional folder and http://www.riksdagen.se)