Law Library Stacks

Back to Index of of Emergency Legislative Activities

Jurisdictions Examined: Algeria | Argentina | Australia | Azerbaijan | Belgium | Brazil | Canada | China | Cote d’Ivoire | Egypt | Estonia | France | Germany | Guatemala | India | Israel | Italy | Jamaica | Jordan | Kenya | Kuwait | Malta | Mexico | New Zealand | Nicaragua | Norway | Philippines | Portugal | Russia | South Africa | Spain | Sweden | Switzerland | Taiwan | Turkey | United Kingdom | United States

Sweden

I. Constitutional Requirements and Role of the Parliament

The Swedish Parliament (Riksdag) is the legislative body of Sweden representing the Swedish people, and its procedures are governed by the Constitution as well as the Riksdagsordning (Parliamentary Rules of Order).[1] Currently, the unicameral legislature is made up of 349 members, each from one of eight political parties.[2]

The Constitution has special rules for the Parliament, as does the Riksdag Act,[3] in times of war or threat of war, when the Parliament meets with a delegation of fifty members.[4] However it has no specific rules for parliamentary procedure at other times of crisis. Neither the Constitution nor the Riksdag Act provides a requirement for the minimum number of representatives who must be present for the Parliament to have a quorum for voting. Ordinarily, a vote in favor by a simple majority of half of the members present is sufficient for a bill to pass.[5] Special rules apply if the vote is on amending the Constitution.[6]

Back to Top

II. Measures Adopted as a Response to the COVID-19 Outbreak

On March 16, 2020, the parties of the Swedish Parliament adopted measures as a response to Covid-19,[7] including reducing the number of members of Parliament present in the Riksdag at the same time.[8] For example, instead of having the full 349 members vote, only 55 members will vote, and the number of votes represented by each party reflects the size of the party.[9] The new rules apply from March 16, 2020, to March 30, 2020.[10] The agreement comes following a deal between all the group leaders and is not otherwise prescribed in law.[11] Swedish members of Parliament typically follow the party line very closely.[12] Thus, reducing the number of members per party that votes is not anticipated to alter the final outcome of a vote. Although the Swedish Parliament can convene outside of Stockholm in times of war, the Constitution and the Riksdag Act do not provide for remote voting.[13] Under the current situation, the Parliament operates under a reduced number of members present, requiring at least 28 votes in favor for a measure to pass.[14] Members who are not part of the group of 55 that are voting in the chamber are still full-time members of the Parliament and are presumed to be carrying out their duties of representing their constituencies when away from Parliament.[15] Neither the Constitution nor the Riksdag Act regulate how the members and staff conduct their work (for example, telework) when they are not present in the chamber to vote. As of March 24, 2020, no member of the Swedish Parliament has been reported infected with COVID-19.

The Swedish Parliament, unlike, for example, the Norwegian Parliament,[16] has not officially limited the types of issues it will hear or vote on during the COVID-19 outbreak. Instead, the Speaker has announced that the Parliament will continue to operate and pass legislation that is not urgent or directly linked to COVID-19 measures.[17] The schedule for the week of March 23 to March 29, 2020, has not been significantly reduced, and includes several committee meetings per day and a few meetings in the chamber.[18] As of March 24, 2020, no emergency powers of the government have been invoked.

In accordance with the Constitution, meetings in the chamber are open to the public.[19] However, as March 16, 2020, all guided visits to the Parliament are canceled, and the Parliament instead encourages the public to view a guided tour online.[20]

The Parliament has also closed the Swedish Parliamentary Library from March 18, 2020, until further notice.[21] Books cannot be returned, charged, or renewed during that time. Instead, the library has automatically extended all books currently charged until May 4, 2020.[22]

Back to Top

Prepared by Elin Hofverberg
Foreign Law Specialist
March 2020


[1] 1 kap. 4 § Regeringsformen [RF](Grundlag) [Swedish Constitution](SFS 1974:152), https://perma.cc/C5YZ-ESZ5; Riksdagsordningen [Riksdag Act] (SFS 2014:801), https://perma.cc/D5MM-AKYH.

[2] Ledamöter & Partier, Sveriges Riksdag, https://perma.cc/WX6N-HJ8S.

[3] The Riksdag Act “has a unique status in between constitutional and ordinary law.” The Constitution, Sveriges Riksdag, https://perma.cc/EV26-RMV6.

[4] 15 kap. 2 § RF; 13 kap. 11 § Riksdagsordningen. Members are chosen at the start of each four-year parliamentary term. See Riksdagen, Alla Ledamöter, Krigsdelegationen, Sveriges Riksdag, https://perma.cc/LPN5-AAVV.

[5] 4 kap. 7 § RF. 

[6] 8 kap. 14 § RF.

[7] Talmannen berättar om riksdagens arbete med anledning av coronaviruset, Sveriges Riksdag (Mar. 18, 2020), https://perma.cc/64QF-3BLS.

[8] Press Release, Sveriges Riksdag, Gruppledarna ändrar arbetssättet i kammaren med anledning av corona (Mar. 16, 2020), https://perma.cc/9Q37-SLCY.

[9] Id.

[10] Id.

[11] Id.; see also Sveriges Riksdag, Överenskommelse om kammarens och utskottens arbete med anledning av COVID-19, https://perma.cc/R8KX-8X4H.

[12] Så arbetar partierna, Sveriges Riksdag, https://perma.cc/VJ56-6YD9.  

[13] RF and Regeringsformen.

[14] 4 kap. 7 § RF.

[15] Sveriges Riksdag, supra note 8, and Sveriges Riksdag, Överenskommelse om kammarens och utskottens arbete med anledning av COVID-19, supra note 11.

[16] See Norwegian survey of this report.

[17] Sveriges Riksdag, supra note 7.

[18] Kalender, Sveriges Riksdag, https://perma.cc/PF64-7ZLN.

[19] 4 kap. 9 § RF.

[20] Sveriges Riksdag Twitter Account (Mar. 13, 2020), https://perma.cc/XJ6G-Y2YX; Upplev Riksdagen!, Sveriges Riksdag, https://perma.cc/JB4W-ZTVT.

[21] Sveriges Riksdag, Press Release, Riksdagsbiblioteket är stängt tills vidare (Mar. 18, 2020), https://perma.cc/S3EV-9Z54.

[22] Id.

Back to Top

Last Updated: 12/30/2020