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Sweden’s Parlamentary Democracy at 100

Journal article
Authors Johannes Lindvall
Hanna Bäck
Carl Dahlström
Elin Naurin
Jan Teorell
Published in Parliamentary Affairs
ISSN 0031-2290
Publication year 2019
Published at Quality of Government Institute (QoG)
Department of Political Science
Language en
Subject categories Political Science


This article assesses how Swedish parliamentary democracy works today, almost one hundred years into its history. Our main research question is whether the transformation of the Swedish party system since the 1980s—and especially since 2010, when the populist-radical-right Sweden Democrats entered parliament—has altered the way parliamentary democracy works. We provide new evidence on Sweden’s changing party system, the formation and duration of cabinets, decision-making in parliament and the relationship between what parties say in election campaigns and what they do in government. Our main conclusion is that at least by the election of 2018, surprisingly little had changed. Cabinets have formed quickly, and once formed, they have survived until the next election. The bills governments have sent to parliament have usually passed, often getting the support of one or more opposition parties. Governing parties have managed to implement approximately 80 per cent of the promises they have made in their election manifestos. That said, the relationship between the executive and the legislature was contested in the 2010–2014 and 2014–2018 parliaments, and after the election of 2018, it took a very long time to form a new government. The concluding section discusses what the future might hold.

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