Head of State King Carl XVI Gustaf
Head of Government Prime Minister: Goran Persson
Foreign Minister Anna Lindh
Area 450,000 km2
Population 8.9 million
Per capita GDP € 26,330
GDP growth 1.7% (2001)
Constitution - Domestic politics
Sweden is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system. The monarch has an honorary function but no political power. Legislative power is vested in the single-chamber 349-seat Parliament (Riksdag), whose members are elected every four years by proportional representation. In certain situations, the Parliament can decide to hold a referendum on issues of particular importance. Five such referendums were held during the last century, most notably in November 1994 with regard to membership of the European Union.
In the most recent general election (September 2002), the Social Democratic Party (SDP) won almost 40% of the vote and 144 seats, making it by far the largest party. Under the leadership of Goran Persson, the SDP formed a single-party minority government with the informal support of the Left Party and the Green Party. One of the main election issues concerned the future of Sweden’s extensive social welfare system. The SDP victory reflected the renewed confidence of the Swedish people in the welfare state, as well as their support for increased government spending on health and education programmes.
Sweden has one of the world’s most advanced social welfare systems, based on legislation introduced in 1944. The SDP government has endeavoured to strike a balance between a tight fiscal policy and the preservation of the welfare state. Despite a marked reduction in the number of public sector jobs (the result of economic austerity measures implemented in the second half of the 1990s), the public sector remains large in terms of both employment and value. In the third quarter of 2001 around 34% of all persons employed worked in the public sector. The size of the public sector has been partly responsible for the relatively low rate of economic growth in Sweden since the early 1970s.
In 2000, the services sector accounted for more than 60% of GDP, the secondary sector approximately 29%, while the primary sector has gradually declined in importance and contributed just 2% of total GDP. Natural resources include forests, iron ore and hydroelectric power. The chief exports are machinery and transport equipment, wood products, paper, chemicals and manufactured goods.
Sweden does not currently participated in EMU. At a special party conference in March 2000, the SDP voted in principle in favour of Sweden’s participation in economic and monetary union and a referendum on the issue is expected in 2003.
Swedish military neutrality does not preclude close co-operation with NATO, including participation in the Partnership for Peace programme as well as in the military crisis management framework of the EU. Sweden participates actively in the United Nations, cooperates closely with its Nordic neighbours and has made particular efforts in the areas of disarmament, arms control and nuclear nonproliferation