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

By Dankwart A. Rustow | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
CABINET GOVERNMENT

SWEDISH cabinet government combines a number of characteristics of the British prototype with others typical of the countries of continental Europe. As in Britain, the present cabinet system is the product not of legislative fiat but of a slow and continuous process of evolution; to this day some of its principal rules have not been incorporated in the written constitution. Together with her two Scandinavian neighbors, Britain, and the Low Countries, Sweden is the only European nation where hereditary monarchy has weathered the storms of the first half of this century. Like Britain, finally, Sweden has never had to contend with sizable antiparliamentary or antidemocratic parties. On the other hand the Swedish cabinet system conforms to the Continental pattern in that it rests on a multiparty rather than a two party basis.

Among the unique features of Swedish parliamentarism is the almost total absence of procedures by which one of the partners of the team--parliament or cabinet--would impose its will upon the other. Although a fair degree of harmony has obtained, the requirement of cabinet responsibility and parliamentary confidence has been interpreted far less strictly than in other countries. It will be seen that this comparatively loose relationship has constituted at once one of the main strengths and one of the main weaknesses of Swedish government in recent decades.


EVOLUTION OF THE CABINET SYSTEM

The Swedish constitution defines at some length the cabinet's responsibility to the riksdag; yet it is not on these provisions but on a number of largely uncodified practices that the present cabinet system rests. In their attempt to balance legislative against executive power the constitutional fathers of 1809 authorized the riksdag's constitutional committee to make a periodic check of the official cabinet minutes. If this examination

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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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