The Politics of Compromise: A Study of Parties and Cabinet Government in Sweden

By Dankwart A. Rustow | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI
THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS

THE legislative process is one of the most distinctive features of the Swedish governmental system. American observers particularly will be impressed with the purposefulness of procedure, the careful attention customarily given to relevant facts and to a great variety of interested opinion, and the complete absence of the cruder forms of obstruction. The cabinet, the parliamentary committees, and the two chambers are the main partners in this process. There is an inverse relation between the compactness of each of these groups and the length and complexity of the task it is expected to perform. The preparatory investigations, which may extend over many weeks and months (in some cases years) are conducted by the cabinet, usually under the immediate direction of a single minister. Being a small and homogeneous body the cabinet is well equipped to integrate the divergent views presented by the administration and by private interest groups, and to resist and channel the many conflicting pressures that arise. The committees are not much larger than the cabinet but are far less homogeneous, since they reflect all the major political tendencies present in the legislature. In a period of several days or a few weeks they attempt to clarify and, as far as possible, reconcile partisan views on the bill as it has emerged from the cabinet. Although committees may conduct their own investigations, they deliberate in a secluded atmosphere and generally are content to supplement the material gathered by the cabinet at a few crucial points. The two houses, finally, debate the committee report for a few hours or at most two or three days. The debate merely sums up arguments that have been expressed earlier in the cabinet, in committee, and in the press. There is little time now for major changes in the text of the bill, and on the final vote the chambers usually have a choice only of adopting or rejecting the bill, or approving it with any amendments suggested in the committee report.

-173-

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The Politics of Compromise: A Study of Parties and Cabinet Government in Sweden
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • Tables xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter I - Origins of the Modern Parties 9
  • Chapter II - The Victory of Democracy 43
  • Chapter III - The Four-Party System: Swedish Politics Since 1920 90
  • Chapter IV - The Electorate 116
  • Chapter V - Party Organization 144
  • Chapter VI - The Legislative Process 173
  • Chapter VII - Cabinet Government 197
  • Chapter VIII - The Politics of Compromise 226
  • Appendix 239
  • Index 251
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