Sweden is a constitutional monarchy, with a parliamentary system of governance. The legislative power rests with a unicameral parliament (Riksdag) comprised of 349 deputies elected for four years. The 9 September parliamentary elections were held jointly with elections to county and municipal councils. A total of 34 parties contested elections to the Riksdag, representing a broad spectrum of political platforms. The election legislation provides a solid basis for the conduct of genuine democratic elections. However, additional measures might be considered to fully guarantee the secrecy of the vote and ensure uniform implementation of the election procedures, in particular the printing and distribution of ballots. The recent legal amendments, which introduced additional reporting requirements for political parties and limited the amount of anonymous donations, enhance the transparency of political financing. While there is a general confidence in the integrity of the elections, a sizeable number of election-related complaints were submitted to the Election Review Board (ERB).
The electoral legal framework consists primarily of the Constitution, the 2005 Elections Act and the 2005 Election Ordinance, the latter two amended most recently in 2018. The majority of the ODIHR EET interlocutors expressed confidence in the system that is considered open and transparent. The legislation does not contain specific provision on the presence of observers, contrary to OSCE commitments.
The Election Authority has the overall responsibility for planning and co-ordination of the general elections. At the sub-national level, elections are administered by County Administrative Boards, Municipal Election Commissions and Polling Boards. There is no hierarchy among the election administration bodies of different levels and the Election Authority does not have oversight power.
The Election Authority printed some 673,000,000 ballots. Most of the ODIHR EET interlocutors expressed concerns over the logistical and environmental problems that such number of ballots causes. All parties that the ODIHR EET met with reported problems with the distribution of ballots, stating that they would prefer that the election administration be responsible for the distribution of all ballots.
The Elections Act requires that ballots are placed adjacent to or within the premises of the polling station. In practice, ballots are placed on a table or a stand, often in plain view of voters and staff present in the polling station at times might diminishing the secrecy of vote, which is provided for OSCE commitments. The government recently published a draft law that foresees the placement of a protection screen at the place where ballot papers are put to shelter it from view and to protect secrecy of the vote.
The legal framework allows public and private political funding. Parties that participated in elections or received public funding are obliged to report to the Legal, Financial and Administrative Services Agency (Kammarkollegiet). The reports offer only a partial disclosure, as they contain information solely on income. The parties are not obliged to report on their expenses, assets and debts, hence the possibility for the public scrutiny of political financing is limited and is not in compliance with the international good practice and Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) recommendations.
1 The English version of this report is the only official document. An unofficial translation is available in Swedish.Sweden Page: 2 General Elections, 9 September 2018 ODIHR Election Expert Team Final Report
The ERB is the body mandated to adjudicate on election-related matters. Before election day, the ERB received appeals pertaining to party name registration and to revocation of candidates by political parties, all of which were dismissed. Following the elections, over 770 complaints were submitted to the ERB.