Sweden Democracy and Rights

Democracy and rights

In international comparisons, Sweden consistently ranks among the leading countries in terms of democratic institutions, the rule of law, political and civil rights, and freedom of the press and opinion.

Fundamental freedoms and rights are guaranteed by the Constitution and are well respected by law. In rankings that take into account the functioning of the political system, the participation of citizens and the independence of the judiciary, Sweden is usually at the top along with the other Nordic countries. This means, among other things, that the political institutions are robust, elections are carried out democratically, political rights are respected and citizens have the right to organize and participate in protests.

Sweden is ranked fourth among 180 countries on Transparency International’s (TI) list of world countries ranked by perceived corruption (the list is here). Despite the good placement, criticism does occur. In particular, TI mentions a lack of efforts against money laundering and a poor review of Swedish companies’ involvement in corruption and bribery abroad. Several cases have shown this, not least the telecom company Telia’s bribery business in Uzbekistan (read more in the Calendar), allegations of money laundering directed at Swedbank (see here) and telecom giant Ericsson’s bribery in several countries (see here). And it was not until April 2018 that in practice anonymous contributions to political parties were banned (see here). TI has also pointed out maladministration within the National Audit Office 2016 (see here).

Freedom of expression and media

Abbreviated as SWE, Sweden has a long tradition of freedom of expression and a ban on censorship. The country is ranked fourth out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders list 2020 (see ranking list see here).

Three out of four constitutions regulate the activities of the mass media (see also Political system). The form of government establishes the fundamental right to freedom of expression and information. The Freedom of Pressure Ordinance introduced in 1766 was the first of its kind in the world (the current one is from 1949). The law is one of the most liberal in the world in this area and prohibits the censorship of printed writings and protects the submitter (freedom of speech). The law also regulates the principle of public disclosure, which should give free access to public documents. The Statement of Freedom of Expression was created in 1991 with the Freedom of Pressure Regulation as a model. It regulates the freedom of speech in audio and video media intended for a wide receiver group. The media in Sweden largely follow their own prescriptive rules, which include, among other things, that news should be factual and respect the privacy of private individuals.

Following Sweden’s entry into the EU in 1995, a number of laws have been added that, according to critics, cut the freedom of expression and printing on the edge. Authorities are increasingly encrypting public documents. This has often happened in the past with reference to the Personal Data Act (PUL) from 1998. PUL has since 2018 been replaced by the Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a much more stringent EU law. GDPR restricts the right of companies and organizations to store personal data. New communication methods have also resulted in a new law on signal voltage, which after intense debate was adopted in 2008. The so-called FRA law gives the Swedish Defense Radio Agency (FRA) the right to search for cable-borne traffic (telephone and internet) that cross Sweden’s borders. Critics believe the law is violating privacy. Following a law change in 2009, FRA must obtain permission from a court to obtain information.

Judicial system and legal security

The judiciary is generally independent, fair and well functioning, and legal security is relatively good. The World Justice Project ranks Sweden in fourth place in its index of the rule of law in 126 countries 2018, close to the Nordic neighboring countries. A sub-area where Sweden slips slightly further down the list concerns order and security.

In addition, Sweden has repeatedly been appealed to international bodies, including the Council of Europe, in cases concerning the rights and rights of individuals. In one of the more noteworthy cases, the UN Human Rights Committee in the fall of 2006 accused Sweden of violating the ban on torture when two suspected Egyptian terrorists with American assistance were expelled from Sweden and brought to Egypt in 2001. Criticism is also directed at Sweden for too long detention times, and because the detainees are often kept in isolation.

Swedish courts have the opportunity to try international crimes committed in other countries. The first such conviction fell in 2006 and involved crimes in Bosnia, while the first conviction for genocide came in 2013 and concerned Rwanda (see further Calendar).

Sweden Crime Rate & Statistics



Saab in bankruptcy

Car manufacturer Saab applies for bankruptcy (see February 2010).


S-conductor in windy weather

Criticism is directed at the Social Democrats’ new leader Håkan Juholt when it is discovered that he incorrectly received SEK 160,000 in compensation for double residence, from the Riksdag.


New C-conductor

Maud Olofsson resigns in accordance with the previous message as both party leader and Minister of Industry. She succeeds on both posts by Annie Lööf.


Re-election in municipality and county council

15th of May

Re-election is held in a constituency in Örebro municipality and to the entire county council in Västra Götaland, since it was discovered by election trustees that erroneous in the election in September 2010.


Stop for government sales

The government suffers a defeat when the four opposition parties vote against the sale of the state-owned companies SBAB, Telia Sonera and Posten Norden, as well as parts of the power company Vattenfall. The government had planned to sell state assets for $ 100 billion in four years.

New S-conductor

Håkan Juholt elected new party leader for the Social Democrats, after Mona Sahlin.


Name change in ministry

The Ministry of Agriculture becomes the Ministry of Rural Affairs.