Constitution (excerpts)

The Instrument of Government

Chapter 1. Basic principles of the form of government

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Art. 4. The Riksdag is the foremost representative of the people.

The Riksdag enacts the laws, determines State taxes and decides how State funds shall be employed. The Riksdag shall examine the government and administration of the Realm.

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Chapter 4. The work of the Riksdag

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Art. 3. The Government and all members of the Riksdag may introduce proposals on any matter coming within the jurisdiction of the Riksdag in accordance with more precise rules set out in the Riksdag Act, unless otherwise provided in this Instrument of Government.

The Riksdag shall elect committees from among its members in accordance with rules set out in the Riksdag Act, and these shall include a Committee on the Constitution and a Committee on Finance. Any matter raised by the Government or by a member of the Riksdag shall be prepared by a committee before it comes up for decision, unless otherwise provided in this Instrument of Government.

Art. 4. When a matter comes up for decision in the Chamber, every member of the Riksdag and every minister shall have the right to speak in accordance with more precise rules set out in the Riksdag Act. Rules concerning grounds for disqualification are set out in the Riksdag Act.

Art. 5. When a vote is taken in the Riksdag, the opinion in which more than half of those voting concur shall constitute the decision of the Riksdag, unless specially provided otherwise in this Instrument of Government or, in the case of matters relating to Riksdag procedure, in a basic provision of the Riksdag Act. Rules concerning the procedure to be followed in the event of a tied vote are set out in the Riksdag Act.

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Chapter 8. Acts of law and other provisions

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Art. 17. No law may be amended or abrogated other than by an act of law. Articles 15 and 16 apply in like manner with respect to an amendment or abrogation of fundamental law or of the Riksdag Act.

Art. 18. A Council on Legislation comprising justices of the Supreme Court and justices of the Supreme Administrative Court shall exist to pronounce an opinion on draft legislation. The opinion of the Council on Legislation shall be solicited by the Government or, under provisions of the Riksdag Act, by a committee of the Riksdag.

The opinion of the Council on Legislation should be obtained before the Riksdag takes a decision on a fundamental law concerning the freedom of the press or the corresponding freedom of expression on sound radio, television and certain like transmissions and technical recordings, on any act of law restricting the right of access to official documents, on any act of law under Chapter 2, Article 3, paragraph two, Article 12, paragraph one, Articles 17 to 19 or Article 22, paragraph two, or any act of law amending or abrogating such an act, on any act of law relating to local taxation, on any act of law under Article 2 or 3, and on any act of law under Chapter 11, if such an act is of significance for private subjects, or having regard to the public interest. The foregoing shall not however apply, if obtaining the opinion of the Council on Legislation would be without significance having regard to the nature of the matter, or would delay the handling of legislation in such a way as to cause serious detriment. If the Government submits a proposal to the Riksdag for the making of an act of law in any matter referred to in sentence one, and there has been no prior consultation of the Council on Legislation, the Government shall at the same time inform the Riksdag of the reason for the omission. Failure to obtain the opinion of the Council on Legislation on a draft law shall never constitute an obstacle to application of the law.

The Council's scrutiny shall relate to

1. the way in which the draft law relates to the fundamental laws and the legal system in general;

2. the way in which the different provisions of the draft law relate to each other;

3. the way in which the draft law relates to the requirements of the rule of law;

4. whether the draft law is so framed that the resulting law may be expected to satisfy the stated purposes of the draft law;

5. what problems are likely to arise in applying the law.

More precise rules concerning the composition and working procedures of the Council on Legislation shall be laid down in an act of law.

Art. 19. Any act of law which has been approved shall be issued by the Government without delay. An act containing provisions relating to the Riksdag or authorities under the Riksdag which shall not be incorporated into fundamental law or into the Riksdag Act may however be issued by the Riksdag.

Laws shall be published as soon as possible. The same applies to statutory instruments, unless otherwise laid down in law.

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The Freedom of the Press Act

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Chapter 2. On the public nature of official documents

Art. 1. To encourage the free exchange of opinion and availability of comprehensive information, every Swedish citizen shall be entitled to have free access to official documents.

Art. 2. The right of access to official documents may be restricted only if restriction is necessary having regard to

1. the security of the Realm or its relations with another state or international organisation;

2. the central fiscal, monetary or currency policy of the Realm;

3. the inspection, control or other supervisory activities of a public authority;

4. the interest of preventing or prosecuting crime;

5. the economic interest of the public institutions;

6. the protection of the personal or economic circumstances of private subjects;

7. the preservation of animal or plant species.

Any restriction of the right of access to official documents shall be scrupulously specified in the provisions of a special act of law, or, if this is deemed more appropriate in a particular case, in another act of law to which the special act refers. With authority in such provisions, the Government may however issue more precise provisions for its application in a statutory instrument.

The provisions of paragraph two notwithstanding, the Riksdag or the Government may be empowered, in a regulation under paragraph two, to permit the release of a particular document, having regard to the circumstances.

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