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map courtesy CIA World Factbook; click for enlargement Constitution, Government & Legislation

Popular government in Sweden rests upon ancient tradition. The Swedish parliament (Riksdag) stems from the ting (tribal courts) and the election of kings in the Viking age. It became a permanent institution in the 15th century. Sweden's government is a limited constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system. Executive authority is vested in the cabinet which consists of a prime minister and 19 ministers who run the government departments. The present Social Democratic government, led by Prime Minister Goran Persson, came to power in 1994 after losing power briefly in 1991. King Carl XVI Gustaf (Bernadotte) ascended to the throne on September 15, 1973. His authority is formal, symbolic, and representational.

The unicameral Riksdag has 349 members, popularly elected every 4 years and is in session generally from September through mid-June.

Source: U.S. Department of State

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Courts & Judgments

The Swedish judicial system is composed of three levels of courts: District courts; a court of appeals; and a Supreme Court. All criminal and civil cases are heard first in district court regardless of the severity of the alleged crime.

Swedish law, drawing on Germanic, Roman, and Anglo-American law, is neither as codified as in France and other countries influenced by the Napoleonic Code, nor as dependent on judicial practice and precedents as in the United States. Legislative and judicial institutions include, in addition to the Riksdag, the Supreme Court, the Supreme Administrative Court, the Labor Court, Commissions of Inquiry, the Law Council, District Courts and Courts of Appeal, the Chief Public Prosecutor, the Bar Association, and ombudsmen who oversee the application of laws with particular attention to abuses of authority.

Source: U.S. Department of State

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Human Rights

The Swedish Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens in 2001, and the law and judiciary provide effective means of dealing with individual instances of abuse. There were infrequent reports of the use of excessive force by police. There were some violent clashes between police and protesters during the year. The Government has longstanding programs to deal with violence against women and abuse of children. Trafficking in women for sexual exploitation was a problem.

Source: U.S. Department of State

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