Swedish public administration

Swedish is a parliamentary democracy. How the country is governed, how the administration works and what rights its citizens and inhabitants have are regulated in the Swedish Constitution (consisting of the fundamental laws Instrument of Government, the Act of Succession, the Freedom of the Press Act and the Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression).

The people elect their representatives to the parliament in the general elections. The Riksdag (Swedish parliament) is the country's highest governing body. The Riksdag makes laws, decides on taxes to central government, how central government funds are to be used, etc. The Riksdag also audits cabinet ministers' performance of official duties and how government affairs are handled. The Government governs the country by enforcing the Riksdag's decisions. The Government also represents Sweden in the EU.

The Government

The Government consists of the Prime Minister and other cabinet ministers. The Prime Minister is appointed by the Riksdag and the Prime Minister appoints his/her cabinet ministers. To prepare government affairs and assist the cabinet ministers in their operations, the Government Offices are on hand. They include ministries concerned with different operations. The Government distributes affairs among the ministries.

The Swedish cabinet ministers, unlike their colleagues in many other countries, have little opportunity to make decisions independently. All government decisions are made jointly by the Government. The Prime Minister has the ultimate responsibility for ensuring government policies are coordinated and follow a common line.

The agencies

Most central government agencies answer to the Government. The agencies are independent of the Government and must operate in accordance with the guidelines received from the Government in instructions, appropriation directions and other government decisions. An agency's management answers to the Government for the operations that the agency has to carry out.

Agencies are however independent in terms of preparation and decisions in cases concerning the exercise of authority in cases involving individuals or application of the law. This means that no-one outside of the agency may determine how the agency should decide in these cases. Naturally, agency decisions should be reviewed by a higher instance in the event of an appeal.


Regulations are issued by the Riksdag via laws and by the Government via ordinances. There are limitations in the extent to which the Government may issue regulations and the scope of these. Agencies can also issue regulations following authorisation from the Riksdag or the Government. Often, agencies receive authorisation to issue regulations which interpret and clarify the Government's ordinances. ESV has for example been authorised to issue regulations for a number of ordinances in the area of financial administration.

Local administration

In Sweden, there is also a local administration divided among county councils and municipalities. Both county councils and municipalities are governed by their own political assemblies which are appointed via the general elections. The local administration does not answer to the Government and is independent from the public administration. Following authorisation from the Riksdag or the Government, the administration can issue regulations in accordance with the above.

The municipalities are responsible for a large part of public services and are obligated to maintain certain operations according to law, including school and healthcare, as well as city planning and development-related matters. The county councils are responsible for tasks that are shared by larger geographical areas and which often require large financial resources, such as healthcare and strengthening regions' growth and development.

The budget process

The budget and the process for developing it are part of the management of Swedish central government agencies. In the process, a dialogue is conducted which leads to the financing of the budget and the operations for the coming year for central government agencies.