The Riksdag takes decisions that affect the whole of society. There is extensive interaction between the Riksdag and other public sector actors such as the Government, public agencies, municipalities, county councils and the EU. The Riksdag, the Government, public agencies and municipalities are examples of various actors in the Swedish public sector. They all contribute in various ways to democracy in Sweden. Photo: Melker Dahlstrand The Riksdag The Riksdag is responsible for passing laws in Sweden. Decisions taken by the Riksdag apply throughout the country. This means that the Riksdag takes decisions at the national level. If the Riksdag takes a decision about schools, it may, for example, concern central government funding to education and how this is distributed. The Riksdag does not decide whether or not a particular school is to be closed, or whether an upper-secondary school is to start charging for school dinners. This is the task of the individual municipalities. The Government After the voters have chosen the 349 members who are to represent them in the Riksdag, the Riksdag appoints a prime minister. After this, the prime minister appoints the ministers who will be part of the Government.The Government must be supported by the Riksdag, otherwise it may be forced to resign. Whenever it wants, the Riksdag is free to hold a vote to see whether the Government still enjoys the Riksdag's support. This is known as parliamentary government. The Constitution states that the Government governs the nation. It does this by presenting proposals – "government bills" – on which the Riksdag is to adopt a position. To put it simply, one can say that the Government proposes and the Riksdag decides. The Government can also decide on rules that everyone in Sweden must comply with. Such rules are known as ordinances. But it is the Riksdag alone that passes laws. The Swedish Government website The EU Sweden is a member of the European Union, the EU. Decisions taken by the EU affect everyone living in Sweden. Many of the Riksdag's decisions originate from the EU. This may, for example, include proposals about crime prevention or environmental issues. There are also policy areas in which the EU cannot make decisions. These include the member states' housing policies and educational issues.The Government represents Sweden in the Council of Ministers. Sweden has 20 members in the European Parliament. The Riksdag EU Information Services website The municipalities Sweden has 290 municipalities. They are responsible for many of the public services where we live. These include pre-schools, schools, social services and elderly care. Each municipality has a municipal council. In the municipal councils, a body of local politicians takes decisions regarding the municipality. The decisions may, for example, concern the construction of a new public swimming pool or a new pre-school. The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions website The county councils There are 20 county councils and regions in Sweden. They are primarily responsible for managing health and medical care services and public transport. Political decisions are taken in the county council assembly. The decisions may, for example, concern the focus, operations and economy of the county council. The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions website The public agencies The task of the public agencies is to ensure that the Riksdag's and Government's decisions are implemented. For example, if the Riksdag decides to send a peacekeeping force to Afghanistan, it is the Swedish Armed Forces that ensure that this is done. The public agencies are answerable to the Government and come under different government ministries. In Sweden the public agencies have an independent status and ministers may not intervene in or control their business in detail. The public agencies on the Government website The courts Like the public agencies, the courts put the politicians' decisions into practice. The task of the courts is to resolve disputes between citizens and to judge in criminal cases. According to Swedish law, everyone is equal before the law. The Swedish courts website The media The media have a role in influencing the development of society. Through news coverage and information, the media influence public opinion, that is, what people feel and think. The media are sometimes referred to as the third public power. The Riksdag and the Government are the first public powers.