A county council is responsible for certain collective functions within a county. It has the right to levy taxes, and it is controlled by politicians who are elected directly by the citizens of the county.
Sweden’s political system has three democratically elected levels. At the national level there is Parliament and the Government, at the regional level there are county councils/regions, and at the local level there are municipalities. The state decides on the laws and regulations that govern the work of the county councils/regions and municipalities.
Parliament and the Government
Parliament has legislative power. The Government takes the initiative for new laws, and implements the decisions of Parliament. The Government is assisted by Government Offices, which include a number of departments and around 400 state authorities and services.
Counties, county councils and municipalities
A county is the smallest unit of state administration. A county administrative board deals with the state functions within the county, such as the police, driving licence registers and a certain amount of EU support.
County councils are responsible for collective functions within the region, with a special emphasis on healthcare, public transport and regional development.
Municipalities deal with local functions, including schools, childcare, caring for the elderly and the disabled, and water and sewage.
Municipal taxation rights
Municipalities and county councils have taxation rights. In other words, they are entitled to levy taxes in order to finance the functions they perform. The level of taxation is determined by the municipal council and the county council assembly.
The Swedish Local Government Act
The Swedish Local Government Act governs the work of the county councils and the municipalities. The Act gives a great deal of scope for municipal autonomy, which is an underlying principle of Swedish society.
Citizens elect politicians to the county council assembly every four years. These elections take place at the same time as the parliamentary and municipal elections.
The responsibility of the assembly
The county council assembly is the highest decision-making body at the regional level. When the county council assembly sets the county council’s budget, it also decides on the tax rate, patient fees and transport fares – in other words, how much tax the inhabitants must pay to the county council for services such as healthcare and public transport.
All assembly meetings are open to the public, and all assembly documents are, in principle, public documents.