Sweden

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Sweden or the Kingdom of Sweden is the largest of the Scandinavian social democracies in territory, population and size of the economy. The country covers some 449,964 square kilometers or roughly the same size as Japan or California. The population is ethnically homogeneous, with some 94% of the 9 million residents being ethnically Swedish and 87% Lutheran. The only native minorities include 70,000 Samis (Lapps) and 40,000 Finnish speakers. Approximately 6% of the population are immigrants from other Scandinavian countries, the Balkans, Turkey and the Middle East. Some 300,000 Swedes are Muslim. The literacy rate is 99%, the average age is 40, and the infant mortality rate a very low 2.77 per 1000 live births.

Major cities include the capital, Stockholm (pop. 1.8 million), Göteborg (pop. 783,000), and Malmö (pop. 255,000).

The government is a constitutional monarchy, a parliamentary republic with a unicameral legislature called the Riksdag elected by proportional representation. Sweden is a unitary state with 21 counties and no subnational units of government. Members of the Riksdag and county officials are elected at four year intervals. After the general election the Riksdag elects one of is own as Statsminister, or Prime Minister. The winning Statsminister need not win a majority of the parliamentry vote. Instead all that is necessary to win is to receive fewer than half of the votes cast against her or his candidacy. This permits minority governments. The Riksdag must hold a vote of confidence in the Statsminister and cabinet if 10% of the membership sign a motion asking for such a vote.

Since 1973, the reigning monarch in Sweden is King Carl XVI Gustav. He married a Bavarian commoner in 1976 who become the popualar Queen Sylvia. The monarch's responsibilities are almost entirely ceremonial, involving activities such as presentation of Nobel prizes. The constitution was amended in 1979-1980 to permit the eldest child of the monarch, Princess Viktoria, to inherit the throne as monarch.

Swedes are both comparatively wealthy and heavily taxed to support an extensive system of social welfare services. These include generous retirement and health care benefits, maternity care, cash allowances for single parents and rent subsidies where needed. An average of 52% of gross domestic product is taxed. Unlike other advanced industrial countries, urban slums are virtually absent in Sweden.

Political Parties

Swedish Social Democratic Party (Sveriges socialdemokratiska arbetareparti, commonly referred to as Socialdemokraterna) - The social democratic Party and main left-wing Party, it's ideology is traditional social democracy (with out third positionism). In Sweden it is the only party since 1932 (with two exceptions) to be able to gain power single-handedly.

Left Party

The Left Party in Sweden came into being as the Social Democratic Left Party of Sweden (SSV) in the spring of 1917 with both fear and hope of revolution. The left element of opposition within the Social Democratic Party was forced to either follow SDP leadership or leave the party. There was no revolution however and the right capitulated by accepting Universal Suffrage in 1918. The SSV was an anti-militaristic and internationalist party. In 1919 it formed with other communist parties to form the Third International. And in 1921 this became the Communist Party of Sweden, or SKP. Also known as the Cominturn, this political organization became more increasingly controlled by Stalin, which led to rifts in the party. The SKP split into what continued to be a party controlled by the Soviets and a more fascist party which dissolved after WWII. In 1945 the SKP still associated with the wider communist movement became more moderate as it unified with the Democratic forces within Sweden against Nazi fascism. From its origins the Left Party has tried to represent a wider and more active labor movement. In the 1960’s the party dramatically reformed by breaking its ties with the Soviet Union and becoming a more developed and modern party. And in 1967 the SKP became the Left Party Communists and fought for such issues as reducing amount of nuclear proliferation. In 1977 the Last traces of Soviet loyalty left the party after a group split from it to become the Workers Party Communists (APK). With the fall of the Soviet Union in 1990 the Party formally named itself the Left Party

~Christopher Hutton Chutton@students.berry.edu

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