Statsskick. Sverige, USA och Schweiz. (På engelska)

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Introduction

This essay is about the form of government of three different countries from different part of the world, but still western democratic countries. The purpose is to show the differences and similarities in the constitution of the countries and to see how it’s working out for the countries with the different constitutions. There might be some differences in the headlines and the contents between the countries though. This is because the form of government may vary and the point is to show both similarities and differences.

First I will write facts about the countries under headlines that are similar for every country. Then I will make a shorter more compact list for easy viewing, and after that I will write a conclusion with my own thoughts and opinions based on the facts viewed in the essay. The conclusion will be quite long, because this is an interesting subject, and there is a lot to discuss.

USA

Head of state: The President

The President:
Appoints the government. Whose members only are responsible to him.
- He decides over the military.
- He’s the chief over all employees of the state.
- He takes care of the foreign policies.
- He comes with proposals for the federation budget.
- He always represents the country.

Vice president:
If something happens to the president, the vice president takes his place. Except for being a reserve, he also has important duties. He tends the governments meetings and is the speaker for the senate.

Constitution: Republic

The constitution (fundamental law):
The constitution gives the politicians their power and also gives freedom of speech, freedom of religion, to be able to own a gun (if you have no problem with the law and so on), the right to a jury trial and protection against cruel and unusual punishments.

The three big constitutions (see part “judicial system”) follow up to see that the laws are followed both by the people and each other.

The right to vote: All citizens above 18 years of age can vote.

The Federal power system:
The president and his ministers decides about foreign policy, defense policy, trade policy, rules for commercial trafficking between the states, money policy, taxes and the postal system.

The states: head of government is the governor. The states have their own government, constitution, laws, police and court. They are a lot like countries.


The chambers of parliament:
The senate: Is one of the chambers of parliament. The senate has a hundred members, two from each state. One third is re-chosen every other year. The term of office for a senator is six years.

The House of Representatives: The other chamber is the House of Representatives. It has 435 members and chooses their speaker within their own members. The term of office for a member of the House of Representatives is 2 years.

Committees: As in other western democratic countries, committees have a big role in the American congress. Some are permanent committees, whiles some are temporary. The permanent committees take care of questions such as budget whiles the temporary committees take care of special subjects that are not constant.

Lobbyists: Lobbyists are representatives from different groups and companies that want to influence the congress to make decisions that benefits them. There are about 20 000 lobbyists that present their arguments for the congress in different ways.

The judicial system: The courts in the US aren’t independent from the state. In federal state level they choose the judges in direct elections. In the federal level, the judges are announced upon party politic and judicial merits. These parts of the judicial system take care about the public, their crimes and so on.
The Supreme Court questions the work of the president and the congress. If the Supreme Court sees that the president’s suggestions are against the constitution, the suggestion can be annulled.

The political parties: There are two large blocks: The Democrats and the Republicans. Most of the people in the south of the US are republicans, whiles the people from the northern states are democrats. The republican can be seen as more conservative, this can be seen in the for example abortion question. The democrat’s wants people to be able to get abortions if they want to, but the republicans are strictly against it. The two blocks aren’t built up on an ideology, since the whole meaning with the USA from the beginning was only to make the country non monarchist.

The election:

Electors: The people choose the electors, and the electors choose the president. The numbers of electors is in proportion to the number of citizens and are as many as the federal state’s representatives in the congress. Most electors are bound to vote for the presidential candidate that got the most support from the people in the state, but in 24 states the electors can make his own decisions and choose to core for the person that he wants as president. But, the presidential candidate that wins in the state is bound to get the elector votes.

The election step by step:
1. Within the two biggest parties, a “civil war” breaks out. A couple of representatives within each party are chosen, but only one of them can run for president. Two main candidates are chosen, and there is a primary vote for whom that will be able to run for president.
2. One candidate remains.
3. Now the real election begins. The candidates visits different states and appear in TV debates.
4. In the beginning of November, the people vote. Then they choose both the House of Representatives, one third of the senate, a number of governors, federal state assemblies and so on.
5. December 18th the electors vote and the president are chosen.
6. The 20th of January, the president ate the vice president takes the presidential oath at the steps of the Capitolium and is now president and vice president.
Sweden

Head of state: The king

The king:
The king has no power really, but is more of a national symbol that many like. The Swedish monarchy is completely institutional. The king makes visits to other countries and acts as a host when important people from different countries come to visit. Every year, the king opens the “riksmöte” (the period of conference of the parliament for the coming year).

Constitution: Sweden is a representative parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy

The Parliament (Riksdag):
The parliament has 349 posts, the whole parliament is elected in direct elections the third Sunday in September every four years. If a party has gotten the most votes in the election, they will get the most posts in the parliament. A party must get at least 4 percent of the votes to get into the parliament. This is because there shouldn’t be too many little parties in the parliament. A speaker leads the parliament and there are also three vice speakers.

Committees:
Every newly chosen parliament makes at least 16 committee proposals. Every committee consists of 17 members and at least as many suppliants. After the parliament gets a proposal, it has 15 days to come up with changes to the proposal. All proposals, motions and so on are handled by the committee before they enter the parliament where the decisions are made.

The constitution (fundamental law): There are four constitutions in Sweden:
- The Instrument of Government (Regeringsformen)
- The Act of Succession (Successionsordningen)
- The Freedom of the Press Act (Tryckfrihetsförordningen)
- The Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression (Yttrandefrihetsgrundlagen)

The constitutions can only be change through two parliament decisions and a parliamentary election in between.

The judicial system: There are three parts of the Swedish judicial system.
1. Tingsrätten (the local court): Ordinary and civil cases are tried in the local court. It consists of a judge and a panel of lay assessors appointed by the municipal council.
2. Hovrätten (courts of appeal): The next authority in line to which a person can appeal to.
3. Högsta domstolen: (The Supreme Court): It is made up by at least 16 justices. The Swedish court doesn’t use the US type of juries in other cases than in press libel suits.

Political Parties:
• Centre Party (Centerpartiet) (c)
• Christian Democrats (Kristdemokraterna) (kd)
• Green Party (Miljöpartiet de Gröna, literally: Environment Party the Greens) (mp)
• Left Party (Vänsterpartiet) (v)
• Liberal People''''s Party (Folkpartiet Liberalerna, literally: People''''s Party the Liberals) (fp)
• Moderate Party (Moderata samlingspartiet, literally: Moderate Coalition Party) (m)
• Swedish Social Democratic Party (Sveriges Socialdemokratiska arbetarparti, literally: Social Democratic Labour or Workers'''' Party of Sweden) (s)
Elections:
The elections are made the third Sunday in September.
There are three types of ballots in the Swedish Riksdag-election.
1. The first type has the name of a political party and the names of their candidates.
2. The second type has the name of only the party.
3. The third type is blank.

Every party has a separate ballot, so if you want to be secret about your vote, you have to pick one of each to bring to the election booth. If the voter for example wants to vote for Moderaterna and the candidate Fredrik Reinfeldt, you pick the first type of ballot for Moderaterna and mark your selection next to the candidate. If you only want to vote for Moderaterna but don’t care about who becomes prime minister, you pick the second type. And if you can’t decide of just feel that it doesn’t matter at all, you can pick a blank ballot and at least show interest.

Switzerland

Head of state: The President

The President: Chairman of the Federal Assembly. Is chosen in December each year by the Federal Assembly (the National Council and the Council of States put together). The president has no more power than the other members of the Federal Assembly, except when the number of votes is equal, then his/her vote is the heaviest. So, the main duty of the president is to be head chairman of the Federal Assembly, and not much more.

Constitution: Switzerland is a republic federation with large independence within the cantons (which are like the US states). The cantons have their own constitution, parliaments and governments. Switzerland is a direct democracy since most votes are done by referendums or by simply raising hands (common within the cantons).

Constitution (fundamental laws):
1. The Swiss Federation protects the liberty and rights of the people and safeguards the independence and security of the country.
2. It promotes common welfare, sustainable development, inner cohesion, and cultural diversity of the country.
3. It ensures the highest possible degree of equal opportunities for all citizens.
4. It strives to safeguard the long-term preservation of natural resources and to promote a just and peaceful international order.

The Cantons: They are like little countries, and since Switzerland is a federation, this is the point. The cantons can decide much for them selves, but are still not that different from each other. The cantons have a citizen assembly consisting of all the people that can vote. The meetings are held on a square once a year, where people vote by raising their hands.

Even though the cantons are independent, their existence is strictly controlled. Every canton is mentioned by name in the first article of the constitution, and therefore a change in the constitution is needed for a canton to change name or to cease to exist. For this to happen, a federal voting where a majority of the voters are for the change is needed. A big part of the swizz constitution is that even the little cantons must be able to be heard.

The right to vote: Every citizen above 18 years of age. Even Swiss citizens living outside of the country can vote on federal matters and in some cases also cantonal matters.
The political parties: Switzerland has a multi-party system. There are a lot of parties, but no party really stand a chance to alone get enough votes, so they form so called “coalition governments” with parties with similar ideological points of view. The parties vary all the way from the right scale to the left scale of the ideological barometer.

Elections:
There are three types of elections in Switzerland, parliamentary elections, executive elections and referenda elections. In the parliamentary elections and executive elections the citizens get to vote for what candidate they want to represent them in the government. Parliamentary elections decide the members of the Council of States and the National Council. A person that can vote is sent several ballots to fill in, each one if for a different political party.
If a candidate is running for parliament the voter can vote for the candidate that they wish to be in the parliament and each candidate can be voted for up to two times.
Executive elections are organized around a popular vote directly for individuals, where the individual with the most votes wins. Referenda elections concerns policy issues.

The voters also vote for the selection of government in their canton. The ballot has one line where the voter can write any name of an adult person within the canton. There are no party votes, they only vote for the candidates. The person with the most votes simply wins.

The Federal Assembly:
The federal assembly is the executive organ, the government of Switzerland.
The federal assembly council is elected by the federal assembly. At least two ministers should come from the Italian- or French speaking cantons, the other five can come from any canton. The biggest parties in the federal assembly are always guaranteed one of more minister posts. This system was developed to make it possible for the little cantons to make themselves heard as well.
To be chosen into the federal assembly, there must be a total majority for every person (at least 50% has to be for the proposal).

The two parts of the Federal assembly:
1. The National Council: Has 200 members that are chosen for a term of office of 4 years. The number of members in the National Council is proportional to the number of citizens in the canton. For example; Zürich, which is the largest canton of Switzerland, has 34 seats.
2. Council of States: Has 45 members and most canton has two of them, but there are some exceptions where the cantons only send one. The member’s term of office is four years.

The judicial system:
- The Cantonal Courts. The cantons have their own courts, and these courts take care of the judicial things within the cantons.

- The Federal Criminal Court of Switzerland is the court of first instance in cases that come to the federal courts.

- The Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland has judges that are selected by the Federal Supreme court for six-year periods. The Federal Supreme Court hears appeals of cantonal courts or the administrative rulings of the federal administration.

- The Federal Insurance Court of Switzerland is responsible for judicial review of administrative decisions related to social security. It consists of eleven full-time judges and eleven judges that are only part time judges.
- The Federal Administrative Court of Switzerland is the judicial authority that people can appeal to when they’re not satisfied with the federal authorities.
USA

Head of state:
The President

Ruler of the country:
The President

Constitution: Republic

The constitution (fundamental law):
• Politicians will rule the country
• Freedom of speech
• Freedom of religion
• Right to own a gun
• Right to a jury trial
• Protection against unusual and cruel punishments

The right to vote: All citizens above 18 years of age.

The Federal power system:
The president and his ministers decides about foreign policy, defense policy, trade policy, rules for commercial trafficking between the states, money policy, taxes and the postal system.

The states: They are like little countries but still have a strong connection to eachother.

The chambers of parliament: The Senate and the House of Representatives

Committees:
Permanent committees – takes care of questions such as budget
Temporary committees -- takes care of special subjects that are not constant

Lobbyists: Lobbyists are representatives from different groups and companies that want to influence the congress to make decisions that benefits them

The judicial system:
1. Federal state leveled courts
2. Federal leveled courts
3. The Supreme Court

The election:
The people choose electors in each state that in turn vote for one of the two president candidates.

Political parties:
There are a few, but the Democrats and Republicans are the biggest.
The minor parties are for example:
• The Libertarian Party,
• the Constitution Party
• the Green Party.


Sweden

Head of state:
The King

Ruler of the country:
The Regering (government) and the leader of the Regering is the prime minister.

Constitution: Representative parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy

The constitution (fundamental law):
• The Instrument of Government (Regeringsformen)
• The Act of Succession (Successionsordningen)
• The Freedom of the Press Act (Tryckfrihetsförordningen)
• The Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression (Yttrandefrihetsgrundlagen)


The right to vote: All Swedish citizens above 18 years of age.

The Parliament (Riksdag): A collection of the biggest political parties in Sweden.

The states: Sweden doesn’t have states. The closes Sweden comes are “kommuner”, but they aren’t at all as independent and don’t play a big role.

The chamber of parliament: There is only one chamber of parliament in Sweden, the riksdag.

Committees:
Every newly chosen parliament makes at least 16 committee proposals. Every committee consists of 17 members and at least as many suppliants.

Lobbyists: Sweden doesn’t have lobbyists

The judicial system:
1. Tingsrätten (local court)
2. Hovrätten (courts of appeal)
3. Högsta domstolen (The Supreme Court)

The election:
The people in Sweden votes for the political parties and their leaders.

Political parties:
• Centre Party
• Christian Democrats
• Green Party
• Left Party
• Liberal People''''s Party
• Moderate Party
• Swedish Social Democratic Party


Switzerland

Head of state:
The President

Ruler of the country:
The Federal Assembly

Constitution: Switzerland is a direct democracy and a federal republic

Constitution (fundamental laws):
1. The Swiss Federation protects the liberty and rights of the people and safeguards the independence and security of the country.
2. It promotes common welfare, sustainable development, inner cohesion, and cultural diversity of the country.
3. It ensures the highest possible degree of equal opportunities for all citizens.
4. It strives to safeguard the long-term preservation of natural resources and to promote a just and peaceful international order.

The right to vote: All Swizz citizens above 18 years of age.

The Parliament: The Federal Assembly. The federal assembly is the executive organ, the government of Switzerland. There are two parts of the Federal Assembly:
The National Council and the Council of States

The Cantons: The cantons are like the American states, and are like little countries. The cantons have a citizen assembly consisting of all the people that can vote. The meetings are held on a square once a year, where people vote by raising their hands.

The chamber of parliament: The Federal Assembly

Committees:
Switzerland has committees that take care of questions that are important for the country.

Lobbyists: Switzerland doesn’t have lobbyists

The judicial system:
• Cantonal Courts
• The Federal Criminal Court
• The Federal Supreme Court
• The Federal Insurance Court
• The Federal Administrative Court

The election:
There are three types of elections in Switzerland, parliamentary elections, executive elections and referenda elections. In the parliamentary elections and executive elections the citizens get to vote for what candidate they want to represent them in the government. Parliamentary elections decide the members of the Council of States and the National Council. A person that can vote is sent several ballots to fill in, each one if for a different political party.

When there are elections within the cantons, the people gather on a square and vote by raising hands. This is called direct democracy.

Political parties:
• Swiss People''''s Party
• Social Democratic Party of Switzerland
• Free Democratic Party of Switzerland
• Christian Democratic People''''s Party of Switzerland
• Green Party of Switzerland
• Evangelical People''''s Party
• Liberal Party of Switzerland
• Federal Democratic Union
• Swiss Democrats
• Swiss Labor Party
• Solidarities
• Christian Social Party
• Ticino League
• Freedom Party of Switzerland


Conclusion

The form of government in the US, Sweden and Switzerland are very different on some points and alike on other points.
The US, Sweden and Switzerland are western democracies with a good economy. The people in the countries are free to do what they want within the frames of the laws that are much alike. Most western democratic countries have laws that are based upon laws from the bible that have become the foundation of the western moral. The fundamental laws are much alike in these three countries that are compared in this paper. The fundamental laws are based upon freedom, for example “freedom of speech” and “freedom of religion”. But, some laws are different, like the US law “the right to own a gun”. It’s said that guns are bad, and I agree. People buy guns to protect themselves against guns. In Sweden it’s not even allowed to carry a knife in public places if you don’t need it in you work, right there, right then. The “own a gun” thing really reflects the role of the US in the word.
Sweden and Switzerland are rarely heard on the world news, but there is always something about the US. The foreign policy in the US is Republican, they like being a superpower, and they will use the title. Sweden and Switzerland are neutral countries, the US is not.

Switzerland and the US both have presidents, but the roles of the presidents are way different. In the US, the president has the most power of the politicians, and is often called the most powerful man in the world (there has never been a female president in the US; I will come back to this later).
In Switzerland, the president has no more power than the others in the parliament, just a little more since his or hers vote is the heaviest. The power in Switzerland is very divided.
Sweden is a constitutional monarchy, and has no president. The head of state of Sweden is the king, but he has no power what so ever. Sweden has a prime minister and a “riksdag” (parliament). The power is divided more like the swizz way than the US way. The power is very much shared between lots of people, and not only a few persons can decide the faith of Sweden. This has a couple of meanings; Sweden and Switzerland can much easily keep a direction that most people would like, whiles in the US, the president and his closest ministers have a lot of power and can almost decide anything. An example of this is the Iraq war: A lot of people in the US are against the Iraqi war, but the people with power want the war to continue. In for example Sweden, the government would probably have been forced to give up. This gives Sweden perhaps a more coward appearance, but I see it like “the lines of your country are drawn there for the powerful to decide over the faith of the land within the lines”.

The elections within the countries are also very different. In Sweden, the people can vote for both candidates and parties, such is the case in Switzerland as well. If a person votes for a party, nothing can be made to manipulate the vote in these countries, but in the US it’s different.
In the US, the average Joe first vote to show his support to one of the candidates, but then, they vote for electors. The electors in their turn are bound to give their votes to the candidate that got the most support in the state, but this is not always the case. For example: In 1968, an elector for North Carolina chose to not give his vote to Richard Nixon, and gave it to his opponent George Wallace even though Nixon had gotten the most support from the people in the state. This, I believe gives the electors too much power and takes power from the average Joe. The elector can totally ignore the people and vote for the candidate that he likes instead, but this is probably not too popular with the people and the elector probably get’s a small hell after that.
They ways of Switzerland on local matters are also very strange. They use direct democracy in i...

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Inactive member [2007-07-01]   Statsskick. Sverige, USA och Schweiz. (På engelska)
Mimers Brunn [Online]. http://mimersbrunn.se/article?id=8476 [2018-06-22]

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