Democracy Report 2017: The Current State of Swedish Parliamentary Democracy

Sweden’s political machinery squeaks. Events after the 2014 election revealed how difficult it has become to form stable governments and build majorities in the Riksdag, the Swedish parliament. It is important to determine how the political system can be improved. That is why SNS launched a research project on the current state of Sweden’s parliamentary democracy. The research project resulted in the report Cooperation and Conflict in a Parliamentary Democracy.

New Circumstances

In recent decades, the conditions of effective democratic government have changed greatly in Sweden.

  1. The number of parties in the Riksdag has increased: there were five parties thirty years ago; there are eight today.
  2. Until recently, almost all party-political conflicts were left–right conflicts, and new political issues were quickly absorbed by the left–right dimension. This is not the case today; for example, conflicts over migration are cross-cutting and not easily defined in terms of left and right.
  3. Voters change parties at a much higher rate.
  4. The center-left bloc and the center-right bloc are more well-defined; cooperation between center-left and center-right parties has become more infrequent and fraught with difficulties.
  5. Since the Sweden Democrats – who are not part of the center-left or the center-right bloc – entered the Riksdag in 2010, no political bloc has been able to form a majority government.

Learn from History

The project showed the Swedish parliamentary democracy system – especially when it comes to government formation and political decision-making in the Riksdag – has changed during the last few decades. Historical and comparative analyses leads to a better understanding of the challenges and possibilities that Sweden is currently facing.

Measures to Counteract Deadlocks

The project resulted in a number of practical proposals about how political practice and legislation might be adapted, to make Sweden’s parliamentary democratic system work better.

Facts about the project

Project Research Director

Stefan Sandström,, phone +46 8 507 025 64


The research group consisted of five political scientists. Professor Johannes Lindvall, Lund University, was chairman. The other researchers were Professor Hanna Bäck, Lund University, Professor Carl Dahlström, University of Gothenburg, Associate Professor Elin Naurin, University of Gothenburg, and Professor Jan Teorell, Lund University.

Time Schedule

The report was presented in September 2017.