Inside the heart of Swedish democracy

If you were in Stockholm before, you must have been to the historical old town and  impressed by the great architectures erected on the islets. Among them, there is a crescent-shape building which carries an special meaning for the nation. “Riksdag”  is its name and “heart of the Swedish democracy” is official definition. In this blog I will discover this grandiose building with you, and touch a bit upon the incredible political system and ideology behind it.

ACCESS TO RIKSDAG

Some says that democracy means open and free information available to the public. So it is for Riksdag. You may enter the Riksdag via

  1. Guided Tour  (Free of charge)

2.  Public hearing, chamber meetings and debates are open to the public. You just need to reserve more time to arrive due to the security check, and better be able to understand Swedish to make more sense for you existence.

Security check

3. Riksdags has its own library , which is also open to public and you may also borrow books.

THE BUILDING

Being the heart of Swedish democracy, the Riksdag building must be located in the heart of the capital. Inaugurated in 1905, and it is then fused with the nearby national bank in the 80s. Today, Riksdag spans the entire Helgeandsholmen, overlooking the water. 

Looking through the giant glass window from the chamber, almost all compositions that make up of the Swedish government are clear: the City Hall, Ministry of Justice, Residency of Prime Minister. In my own opinion, it has to be one of the best places to look at Stockholm.

THE CHAMBERS

To my surprise, the major chamber in which the 349 parliamentary members sit, is not bigger or granter than the Aula Medica in Karolinska. Notice that there are two kinds of chairs: those downstairs are regular seatings for the elected members; those upstairs are for everyone from the common public, if they would love to be present.

You will find a smaller chamber, decorated in a more classical way: mostly because Sweden used to have a bicameral system before 1971. Nowadays, it usually functions as meeting room for the 8 parties that have a sharing in the parliament.

THE GRAND STAIRWAY & GRAND GALLERY

These two names with “grand” as prefix are probably the most artistic and beautiful parts of Riksdag. In every September Kings will be present at the opening of Riksdag on this marble stairway at the entrance hall. As the King is the nominal leader of the nation, he presents only once in a year in Riksdag (O this “poor” man has no saying here).

The grand gallery holds important banquets for foreign government officials and nobilities. Anything special about the grand gallery? The painting hangs on wall are all precious art pieces. Our guide always introduce proudly these two to the visitors. 1) Could you name the two techniques that are used respectively? 2) what do the mug and fruit allude in painting 2?

OTHER INTERESTING SPOTS

You shall not miss the the Committee of Finance: it is a medium size conference room, with extra-high ceiling, woody interior wall and tons of books and documents.

As said, part of Riksdag belong formerly to the national bank. The design of the entrance of the bank is most preserved  and serves as the main meeting place at the West Wing.

HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW ABOUT……?

The daily life of Riksdags should be comprised of meetings, discussion, debates, passing and rejecting proposals…..but there is a less observed, but implicit purpose: it is the centre of education about Swedish democracy.

Election

This sign displays the results of the national election in 2014. In this elections, 8 parties that got more than 4% of total votes will have seat(s) in the parliament. Like most of other European governments, the ruling party is a coalition with more than one party. With universal suffrage, one-party dictatorship is  less likely.

Elected members

In the word “Riksdag”, “Riks” actually means “the empire’s” in Swedish. In contrast to its name, the elected members are more or less mundane: they come from all professionals, such as teachers, nurses etc. Most noticeably, 43.6% of the current members are female.

Nevertheless the oil paintings in the corridor of the Riksdags remind its visitors that the parliament used to consist of four Estates only: the nobility, the clergy, the burghers and the peasantry:

Educational booklets

It is apparent that the government has put a lot of effort in writing such educational booklets introducing Swedish democracy and governance, for Swedish nationals, visitors and even school children.

CONCLUSION

All in all, thanks for reading this rather superficial note of the Swedish Parliament House and a even more superficial introduction of the Swedish democracy, which is nonetheless one of the most valuable asset of the nation and fundamental to everything that takes place here.

//tianlin

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