Sweden: Democracy reforms offer guidance for Britain

Democracy reforms in Sweden offer guidance for Britain

Stronger rights of electors to govern their own affairs now anchored in constitution

For the around 300 local authorities and 26 regions the Swedes introduced from the beginning of 2011
1. Citizens’ law-proposal (initiative)
2. Right (improved) to demand a plebiscite (decision by the electorate, “referendum”).

These changes strengthen the role of citizens in regional and local government. Before this reform there was a citizens’ right to demand a referendum but this could be refused by the governing authority.

Swedish attention to detail for good governance is illustrated by some accompanying innovations. They propose to build a “comprehensive direct-democratic infrastructure” (Kaufmann), with local advice centres for voters who wish to contribute to governance and exploit their new democratic rights. Also planned is a national institution for political participation, which will inform citizens and support and encourage the newly introduced “direct” democracy.

The rules for citizens’ initiative and referendum were laid down by revision of the constitution of state which came into force in January 2011.

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Summarised from: Bruno Kaufmann,  “A more democratic Sweden”: Demokratischeres Schweden md magazin Nr.88, 1/2011 published by mehr-demokratie.de

key words, tags: direct democracy, citizens initiative, ballot

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