Sweden is divided into 290 municipalities and 21 regions.
There is no hierarchical relation between municipalities and regions, since all have their own self-governing local authorities with responsibility for different activities. The only exception is Gotland, an island in the Baltic Sea, where the municipality also has the responsibilities and tasks normally associated with a region.
The Parliament, Riksdagen, is the supreme political decision-making body in Sweden.
The country's municipalities and regions are responsible for providing a significant proportion of all public services. They have a considerable degree of autonomy and have independent powers of taxation. Local self-government and the right to levy taxes are stipulated in the Instrument of Government, one of the four pillars of the Swedish Constitution.
There are approximately 46,000 political assignments in the 290 municipalities and 3,500 political assignments in the 21 regions. This means that 1 per cent of the adult population in Sweden holds a political assignment in a municipality or region.
In local government councils, 42 per cent of the councillors are women and 58 per cent are men. In the region assemblies, 47 per cent are women and 53 per cent are men.
Approximately half the councillors in local government councils and region assemblies are between 50 and 65 years old. Only 5 per cent are between 18 and 29 years old and close to 10 per cent are older than 65.
Overall, municipalities and regions employ more than one million people, corresponding roughly to 25 per cent of total employment in Sweden.
Municipalities employ approximately 760,000 people and regions employ around 250,000.
Women represent just over 80 per cent of the total employment figure for municipalities and regions.
Local and regional self-government is an important element in the democratic system of Sweden. Local and regional self-government is written into the Swedish Constitution (the Instrument of Government).
The right of municipalities and regions to levy their own taxes among their citizens was established as long ago as in the local government ordinances of 1862.
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