Together, members of the Riksdag belonging to the same party form a party group. The party groups in the Riksdag have a strong position and play an influential role in the work of the Riksdag and the political life of Sweden. The party groups have their own secretariats which cooperate closely with the other sections of the party organisation. All important matters are discussed in the party groups before the members take a final position in their respective committees and in the Chamber of the Riksdag. The work of the party groups is not formally regulated in Swedish law. The groups are mentioned only in connection with elections within the Riksdag and consultations with the Speaker. The work in the party groups is conducted according to the parties' own rules and practices. In practice, there are many similarities in the work procedures of the different party groups. The Centre Party group meets every Tuesday, like all the other party groups in the Riksdag Photo: Melker Dahlstrand Party groups The parliamentary party groups normally are headed by an executive committee or an advisory group. The Green Party refers to this body as the coordination group. The party group leader is responsible for ongoing business. The work of the parliamentary party group is largely influenced by whether the party is in opposition or in government. Another significant factor is whether or not the Government has a majority in the Riksdag. For a party in government, work in the Riksdag is about participating in the drawing up of government policies and trying to obtain support for these in the Riksdag. This task is naturally particularly critical for minority governments. For the opposition parties, the main task is to put forward political alternatives to government policies and trying to try to gain a majority for them. Group meetings on Tuesdays The party groups normally meet on Tuesday afternoons. These meetings are not open to the public. The executive committee has prepared items on the agenda in advance. At these meetings, all elections are prepared, important private members' motions are discussed and the party's position is presented in party motions. Since the work of the Riksdag encompasses all areas of society it is important that members of the Riksdag have in-depth and specialist knowledge of various fields. The work in the party groups is therefore organised into committee groups where members have their specific areas of specialisation. In these groups the members prepare motions and positions arising from proposals from the Government. Party members outside the Riksdag and supporters with expertise in the issue being considered may also be involved in this work. All major issues are discussed and decided in the party groups, while many less important issues are the responsibility of the party's representative or representatives in the relevant committee. In practice, it is impossible for an individual member to have an in-depth knowledge of all the thousands of decisions that are made every year in the Riksdag. Party loyalty Loyalty to the party line is traditionally high at votes in the Riksdag. The underlying idea is that the members are there to implement the programme the party went to election on. At the same time, each member of the Riksdag has a personal mandate from the electorate, and is not formally obliged to follow the party line. Acceptance of voting against one's party varies depending on the matter at hand, the party and whether the outcome of the vote is affected. Balance of votes Certain party groups choose pairing organisers from among their members. These representatives are responsible for the pairing system, that is, ensuring that the balance between the political blocs is not influenced by occasional absences due to illness, etc. during a vote in the Chamber. Pairing is an agreement between certain parties that one or more members will voluntarily abstain from a particular vote to compensate for the fact that members from parties that stand for an opposing view are unable to attend. An absent member from one bloc is "paired" against one member from the other bloc who abstains from voting. Not all parties are part of the pairing system. The party secretariat and political advisers Each party group and its members is assisted by a secretariat in the Riksdag, with experts, political advisers and assistants who are employed by the party. The political advisers collect information, prepare draft political texts, handle media contacts, answer e-mails and serve as a sounding-board for the members. The parties receive financial support to cover the costs of the political advisers. This support corresponds to the costs for one political adviser per member, but it is up to the parties themselves to decide how they distribute the costs in order to provide a secretariat that meets the needs and wishes of the members. The size of the secretariats varies with the size of the parties. Financial support to the parties Financial support from the State and the Riksdag is the main source of income for the political parties at the national level. It enables them to pursue their political activities on a long-term basis, without being dependent on various contributors. Independent parties, free press and news media and the free formation of opinion are fundamental elements of democracy. The parties are important moulders of public opinion and fulfil an essential task in society, especially at general elections. They provide voters with alternatives and information as well as the opportunity of exerting an influence on society, participating and taking responsibility. Public financial support to the political parties has therefore been considered justified and of great importance for democracy. It is written into the law and is provided in various forms: The State provides support for the general activities of the political parties. The Riksdag gives support to the party groups and for the work of members of the Riksdag.Municipalities and county councils are also entitled, but not obliged, to give financial support to the political parties. It is, on the whole, up to the parties themselves to decide how the financial support is to be used. There is no public supervision of how the funding is used. SEK 466 million annually The support from the State and the Riksdag amounts to approximately SEK 466 million annually. This support is the largest source of income for the political parties. Below you can read more about how the funding from the State and the Riksdag is allocated. The State gives money to parties with and without seats in the Riksdag The political parties both with and without seats in the Riksdag receive financial support from the State for their general activities. The size of the contribution is based on the results in the elections to the Riksdag: For parties represented in the Riksdag the number of seats determines the size of the contribution Parties without seats in the Riksdag also receive contributions, provided that they have obtained at least 2.5 per cent of the votes in the whole country in either of the two latest elections. The contributions are given for general activities via the national party organisations. It is up to the parties themselves to decide how the funds are to be used, for example for canvassing, campaigns and pay, at the local or central level. Distribution of State support to the Riksdag parties The State financial support received by the Riksdag and distributed to the national party organisations consists of party assistance and office assistance. Party assistance is paid as a contribution per seat in the Riksdag, taking into consideration the election results in the two latest parliamentary elections. The contribution is currently SEK 333,300 per seat and year. Office assistance is paid to all parties represented in the Riksdag and consists of a basic contribution and a supplementary contribution. The basic contribution amounts to about SEK 5.8 million per party. The supplementary contribution amounts to SEK 16,350 per seat for a party in government and SEK 24,300 for the remaining Riksdag parties. The Riksdag gives financial support for the activities of members of the Riksdag and the party groups In addition to contributions from the State for the national party organisations, the parties in the Riksdag receive financial support for the activities of members of the Riksdag and the party groups. The support consists of: basic support support for political advisers for the members support for travel abroad The basic support consists of a basic amount and a supplementary amount based on the number of members in the party group. The basic amount is set at SEK 1.7 million per year. A party group representing the Government is entitled to one basic amount, while other party groups are entitled to two times the basic amount. The supplementary amount consists of SEK 57,000 per member and year. The support for political advisers is intended to cover costs for administrative assistance for the members. The political advisers collect information, prepare draft political texts, handle media contacts, answer e-mails and serve as a sounding-board for the members. It is up to each party individually to decide how the support is used. The support corresponds to the costs for one political adviser per member, and the calculation is based on an amount of SEK 59,300 per political adviser and month. As mentioned, it is however up to the parties to distribute the money to create a secretariat that suits their particular needs and wishes. Support for travel abroad is paid to enable members of the Riksdag to participate in international conferences etc. The contribution amounts to SEK 5,000 per member for the first twenty seats in the Riksdag and SEK 2,500 for all remaining seats. Members can also receive SEK 2,500 per year for travel connected with cooperation in the EU. The members and party secretariats also receive access to free premises and technical equipment in the Riksdag buildings. In other words, they do not need to use the financial support for these costs.