How are laws made in Sweden? Where do legislative debates take place? Where is the central government budget determined? TGS students learned the answers to these questions and more on a recent visit to the Swedish Parliament, Sveriges Riksdag.
The Riksdag is Sweden’s principal decision-making body, and the government carries out the Riksdag‘s decisions. The Prime Minister is chosen by the Riksdag, and every four years all citizens of Sweden who are entitled to vote may cast their ballot for the political party they want to represent them in the Riksdag. More than 45% of the members of parliament are women, and the youngest member is 18 years old (which the students found quite interesting). The King only has representative duties as head of state.
Monika, the official tour guide for the day, showed students around the parliament buildings and offices. The building holds more than 3500 individual pieces of art.
Monika explains the layout of the Parliamentary buildings
One highlight of the trip was the students’ visit to the parliament chamber itself. Students gathered in the public gallery perched above the seats for elected officials, normally reserved for the public to observe the debates and other proceedings. They had a bird’s eye view of the debates – even though the debates were rather limited on this particular day. There were only a few officials giving speeches to a relatively empty chamber.
Before entering the chamber, the security guard said that iPhones had to be turned off (not silent, off!)
It was a quiet day in Parliament; most of the members were back home in their districts and there was no significant legislature to debate.
During the tour, TGS teacher Andrew McLean engaged the students in a discussion about elected officials, writing and approving legislation, voting rights and different models of government. Each student talked about how laws are made in their own home country, with Andrew guiding the conversation to compare and contrast these different legislative models – including the models in Australia and China, the next host countries for this academic year.
Tour guide Monika explains the fundamentals of the Swedish government
Outings like this give students the opportunity to experience and understand the culture-specific elements of each country we visit. But more importantly, it provides an opportunity to open up a larger conversation to bring together and compare the unique aspects of each country.