The current pandemic will affect the form of the opening of the Riksdag session in the Chamber and the other two meetings of the Chamber which are due to take place on the same day. The work of the Riksdag during the autumn will also continue to be affected, though all 349 members will continue to be in service in exactly the same way as they were in the spring.
"Arranging the opening of the Riksdag session in the middle of the current pandemic places great demands on the Swedish Parliament. While paying due consideration to the recommendations and regulations of the relevant authorities, we have endeavoured to provide the opening with a fine ceremonial setting. We have attempted to achieve as good a balance as possible between respecting urgent safety measures, the provisions of the Riksdag Act and respecting tradition," says the Speaker Andreas Norlén.
The opening of the Riksdag session
The opening of the Riksdag session will take place in the Chamber on 8 September at 2 p.m. At the request of the Speaker, HM the King will declare the Riksdag session open and the Prime Minister Stefan Löfven (Social Democratic Party) will present the Statement of Government Policy. However, it will not be possible to carry out a full-scale opening. The Riksdag will be taking several measures which will distinguish this year's opening from that of previous years.
In consultation with the Group Leaders, the Speaker has agreed that 190 members will be present in the Chamber during the opening. In order to enable the members to sit with sufficient distance from each other in the Chamber, and to reduce travel on this day, the number of members has been limited to the number (at least 175) required for a vote with a qualified majority which will take place the same day (with a safety margin of 15 members to avoid the risk of having too few members present).
In order to ensure that distance is maintained, approximately a third of the members will sit in the Public Gallery. There will be no members sitting next to the route which those participating the ceremony will take.
The number of guests has also been dramatically reduced and the mingle that usually follows has been cancelled. Approximately 50 per cent, as opposed to the usual 100 per cent, of the Government will be present, only the Royal Couple will participate from the Royal Family, and the diplomatic corps will be represented by the ambassador who has been in service in Stockholm the longest. Heads of public agencies, representatives of organisations and other representatives from Swedish society will not be invited to attend this year. For a normal opening, approximately 750 people are invited in addition to members.
The web broadcast of the opening on riksdagen.se will be supplemented with a live broadcast from the Former Second Chamber at 3 p.m. in order to make it possible to follow the opening on line. The concert in the evening, which will be pre-recorded without an audience, will also be broadcast on the web.
Example of measures that have been decided:
- Fewer people will be present in the Riksdag buildings and in the Chamber. The number of members, representatives of the Royal Family and the Government, as well as the number of guests, will be dramatically reduced.
- The subsequent mingle for members and guests has been cancelled.
- More possibilities to follow the opening on line: In addition to the fact that the opening will be broadcast as usual via the Riksdag website and on Swedish Television, there will also be a special programme that will be broadcast live on riksdagen.se. The concert in the evening will be pre-recorded without an audience and will also be available for viewing on the Riksdag website.
- The Statement of Government Policy will be distributed digitally only, not in a printed version.
As a result of a previous decision, the theme of the opening of the Riksdag session has been inspired by the Democracy Centenary which is being celebrated between 2018 and 2022. In connection with the opening, the fight for universal and equal suffrage and the fact that it is 100 years since the advent of democracy in Sweden will be highlighted.
Meeting in which the Speaker welcomes the members to a new working year
At a meeting in the Chamber at 11 a.m., the Speaker will welcome the members to a new working year and announce the names of the 345 members of the Riksdag who will be in service during the Riksdag session. 55 members will be present in the Chamber.
After a parliamentary election, a roll-call must be held in the Chamber, but if it is not an election year, the Speaker can decide to replace the roll-call with an announcement of the 349 serving members.
At 4 p.m., plenary meetings will begin with two items that require a decision by qualified majority in accordance with the Riksdag Act – that is 175 yes votes – in order to be approved. The vote will take place after the debate has finished. The items of business requiring a decision by qualified majority are 2019/20:UFöU5 Operational military support between Sweden and Finland and 2019/20:KU25 Change of name of advisory committees and certain corrections.
Riksdag work during the autumn
During the spring, the Riksdag has had special working procedures and various measures have been taken. The special working procedures will continue to be observed for Riksdag work during the autumn. The measures are based on recommendations from the relevant authorities and agencies. The measures aim to ensure that parliamentary work can continue while at the same time reducing the risk of contagion.
The Speaker has discussed how this work is to be conducted in the Riksdag committees and the Committee on EU Affairs with the Group Leaders. The Speaker and Group Leaders have agreed that the Riksdag committees and the Committee on EU Affairs need to have the opportunity to have frequent meetings during the autumn with the all the members in principle physically present. Larger premises than those normally used as committee meeting rooms will be used to enable distance to be maintained. The use of these premises will be scheduled so that all committees will be able to use them alternately. It will also continue to be possible for members to participate in these meetings digitally.
"I welcome the fact that during the autumn the committees will supplement their digital meetings with frequent meetings in which in principle all members will be physically present. It is important that it is possible to meet physically sometimes to discuss various issues. At the same time, social distancing must be maintained," the Speaker Andreas Norlén points out.
All 349 members of the Riksdag have been in service throughout the spring and will continue to be so during the autumn. However, the Group Leaders previously agreed that only 55 members should be present for votes in the Chamber. This agreement has now been extended by the Group Leaders and applies until 17 December. Before each vote, the parties decide which members are to be present to vote. In other words, it is not the same 55 members who participate in every vote.
In March, the Riksdag elected a large number of extra deputy members to the committees and the Committee on EU Affairs to ensure that they were fully manned. These extra deputy members will remain unchanged during the autumn, apart from in the Committee on the Constitution, the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Defence.
From the vote to be taken on 16 April, there will be free seating in the Chamber when votes are taken. Free seating implies that members may sit wherever they choose so that they can sit farther apart.
As far as other activities of the Riksdag Administration are concerned, guided tours of the Riksdag, for example, will remain cancelled and the Riksdag Library will remain closed until further notice.
For further information please contact
- The Speaker's press telephone +46 8 786 44 00
- The Riksdag Administration's Press Service, telephone +46 8 786 62 00