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Political system

Constitutionally, the 349-member riksdag (Parliament) holds supreme authority in modern Sweden. The riksdag is responsible for choosing the prime minister, who then appoints the government department heads (cabinet ministers). Legislative power is only exercised by the riksdag. Executive power is exercised by the prime minister and the cabinet, while the judiciary is independent. Sweden lacks compulsory judicial review, although the non-compulsory review carried out by lagradet (Law Council) is mostly respected in technical matters but less so in controversial political matters. Acts of the parliament and government decrees can be made inapplicable at every level if they are manifestly against constitutional laws. However, because of the restrictions in this form of judicial review and a weak judiciary, this has had little practical consequence. Legislation may be initiated by the cabinet or by members of Parliament. Members are elected on the basis of proportional representation to a four-year term. The Constitution of Sweden can be altered by the riksdag, which requires a simple but absolute majority with two separate votes, separated by general elections in between. Sweden has four constitutional laws: the Instrument of Government, the Act of Royal Succession, the Freedom of the Press Act and the Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression. The Swedish Social Democratic Party has played a leading political role since 1917, after Reformists had confirmed their strength and the revolutionaries left the party. After 1932, cabinets have been dominated by the Social Democrats. On y five general elections (1976, 1979, 1991, 2006 and 2010) have given the centre-right bloc enough seats in Parliament to form a government. However, due to poor economic performance since the beginning of the 1970s, and especially since the fiscal crisis of the early 1990s, Sweden's political system has become less one-sided, and more like other European countries. In the 2006 general election the Moderate Party, allied with the Centre Party, Liberal People's Party, and the Christian Democrats formed the centre-right Alliance for Sweden and won a majority of the votes. Together they formed a majority government under the leadership of the Moderate party's leader Fredrik Reinfeldt. In the September 2010 election the Alliance contended against a unified left block consisting of the Social Democrats, the Greens and the Left Party. It also saw the first election of the Sweden Democrats into the riksdag. The Alliance won a plurality of 173 seats, but remained two seats short of a 175-seat majority. Nevertheless, neither the Alliance, nor the left block chose to form a coalition with the Sweden Democrats, and the Alliance is currently governing as a minority government.[89] Election turnout in Sweden has always been high by international comparison, although it has declined in recent decades, and is currently around 80% (80.11 in 2002, and 81.99% in 2006). Swedish politicians enjoyed a high degree of confidence from the citizens in the 1960s, However, that confidence level has since declined steadily, and is now at a markedly lower level than in its Scandinavian neighbours.[90]