The Speaker directs the work of the Riksdag in consultation with the party group leaders and with the support of the Riksdag Administration. An important task of the Speaker is to lead negotiations in connection with a change of Government, and to present a proposal for a new Prime Minister. The Speaker has the ultimate responsibility for how the activities of the Riksdag are planned and conducted. The Speaker also presides over meetings of the Chamber and is the foremost representative of the Riksdag. The office of Speaker is the highest position to which a person may be elected in Sweden. The Speaker ranks after the Head of State – the King – but before the Prime Minister. As the foremost representative of the Riksdag, the Speaker often represents the Riksdag in various national and international contexts. The Speaker is not involved in the political work of the Riksdag. He does not participate in the work of the committees or in debates and votes in the Chamber. A substitute is chosen for these duties. Election of the Speaker The members of the Riksdag appoint from among themselves one Speaker and three Deputy Speakers for one electoral period (four years) at a time. The decision is taken at the first meeting of the electoral period. There are no rules or clear guidelines as to what party the Speaker is to be appointed from. Since 1982 the Speaker has been chosen from the largest party in the Riksdag majority, that is, the party or group of parties forming the Government. During the period of non-socialist governments in 1976-82, however, the Speaker was a Social Democrat and thus a representative of the largest party overall during that period. The posts of Deputy Speaker have been allocated to the parties in relation to their size in the Chamber. Members of the party from which the Speaker is chosen never obtain any of the posts of Deputy Speaker. This is not regulated by law though. During the period up to the following parliamentary election, none of the Speakers may be removed by a decision of the Riksdag. Directing the work of the Riksdag The Speaker directs and plans the work of the Riksdag, in both the short and the long term. Part of the Speaker's responsibilities involve conferring with various bodies in the Riksdag. The Speaker and the Deputy Speakers, meet on a regular basis to discuss issues relating to the management of parliamentary business, the meetings of the Chamber and their tasks as representatives of the Riksdag in various contexts. The Riksdag Board is composed of the Speaker as chair and a further ten members of the Riksdag. The Riksdag Board may submit proposals to the Riksdag concerning the way the work of the Riksdag should be conducted in relation to EU issues, private members' motions, gender equality in the Riksdag, etc. The Speaker has the right to vote in the Riksdag Board, which is not the case when matters are decided in the Chamber. The Riksdag Board also directs the Riksdag Administration and has decision-making powers in important matters relating to the international activities of the Riksdag. The Speaker is in constant consultation with the special representatives - the group leaders - appointed by the various party groups in the Riksdag. The Speaker also chairs the Chairmen's Conference, which comprises the chairs of the parliamentary committees and the Committee on EU Affairs. The Chairmen's Conference deliberates on issues of common interest. In the Chamber The Speaker convenes and presides over the meetings of the Chamber. The Speaker and Deputy Speakers take turns in chairing the meetings of the Chamber. One of the tasks of the presiding Speaker is to maintain order in the Chamber. Before each meeting the officiating Speaker prepares - in consultation with the Secretariat of the Chamber - an order paper determining the order in which business is to be dealt with. The Speaker also determines the order of speaking of members who have given advance notice of participation in a debate. Parties in the Riksdag can request that a debate be held on a topical issue or an issue of special importance. It is the Speaker, in consultation with the party group leaders, who decides whether to hold such a debate. The Speaker gives the floor During a meeting or debate in the Chamber, the Speaker gives the floor to the various participants in the debate and keeps a check on the length of each contribution. Those who request the floor during the debate are allowed to speak in the order they have given notice. When a vote is taken, the Speaker informs the Chamber of the distribution of the votes and confirms the decision with a rap of his gavel. During meetings of the Chamber, the Speaker and Deputy Speakers take turns at presiding over the meeting, usually for two hours at a time. When presiding over a meeting, they are not permitted to contribute to the debates. However, the Deputy Speakers do have the right to vote when matters are decided, and otherwise contribute to the work of the Riksdag under the same conditions as other members. Responsible for maintaining order One of the tasks of the presiding Speaker is to maintain order in the Chamber. Certain rules of procedure apply. According to Ch. 6, Art. 16 of the Riksdag Act, "No speaker at a meeting may speak inappropriately of another person, use personally insulting language, or otherwise behave in word or deed in a way that contravenes good order." If the Speaker considers that a member of the Riksdag has failed to comply with the rules, the Speaker may debar him or her from speaking. When a new Prime Minister is appointed The Speaker of the Riksdag has a central role when a new government is formed. It is the Speaker who presents a proposal for a new Prime Minister to the Riksdag. This is set out in the Constitution. Here, Sweden differs from other democracies where the head of state normally has this task. After the Speaker of the old Riksdag has received and approved a departing government's resignation, the Speaker starts deliberations with the group leaders of all the Riksdag's parties and the Deputy Speakers. The usual procedure is that the Speaker instructs one or several party leaders to jointly examine the possibilities of forming a government which will have the support of the Riksdag. After the election of a new Speaker, this new Speaker will continue the task. He or she will conclude the deliberations and present a proposal for a new Prime Minister to the Riksdag. When the Speaker presents the proposal, he or she also states which parties are to be included in the Government. The proposal is then put to a vote in the Chamber. It is rejected if more than half the members of the Riksdag vote against it. Otherwise it is approved. Thus, no explicit majority is required for the Speaker's proposal to be accepted. After the proposal has been approved by the Riksdag, the Speaker issues a letter of appointment for the new Prime Minister. If the Riksdag does not approve the proposal, a new attempt is made (an eventuality which has not yet occurred). The Speaker can make a total of four proposals. If none of them is approved, extraordinary elections must be organised within three months, unless ordinary elections are scheduled for the same period.