According to Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it has become clear that there is reason to review the government's powers during such crises.
At a press conference, Löfven explained that the Swedish constitution opens up a number of opportunities to protect the population during wartime. However, more leeway is needed to implement measures during peacetime crises, such as pandemics, terrorist attacks, or natural disasters.
“Sweden needs to be able to guarantee people's security, even in peacetime,” Löfven said. “These are events that lead to major consequences for society. Situations that require the government to have a legal basis to make the decisions that the situation requires,” Löfven added, as quoted by the newspaper Aftonbladet.
According to the Swedish Interior Minister, Löfven's fellow Social Democrat Mikael Damberg, it is a matter of the government in certain situations being able to take over parts of the parliament's duties. The goal is for the government to be able to quickly make decisions on measures that usually require legislation in the parliament.
“It is not about a state of emergency, but about a division between the government and the parliament,” Damberg explained.
A committee will thus be appointed to assess the possibility and scope of future legislative changes. All the political parties in the Swedish parliament will be represented in the committee. The committee’s report is expected to be completed sometime after the Swedish election in 2022.
The government also stated that changes are needed in the Swedish elderly care, which has been hit hard by the corona pandemic.
“Sweden has failed to protect the elderly,” Löfven admitted, echoing Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf.
He pointed out that care for the elderly has long been underfunded. Clearer national governance is needed, according to Löfven, who said that an investigation of a new law for elderly care will be initiated. Löfven maintained the goal for Sweden to get the world’s best care for the elderly, something the new law is intended to contribute to.
While Löfven announced a review of the constitution, Swedish health authorities announced that the death toll from Covid-19 has exceeded 8,000. Some 90 percent of the more than 7,800 Swedes who have died so far with the diagnosis COVID-19 have been 70 years old or older. Half of them lived in specialised housing. The total number of coronavirus cases stands currently at over 367,000 in a country of over 10 million.
In November, the Nordic nation, which has long stood out from the rest of the world in its no-lockdown approach to tackling the coronavirus, experienced its highest excess mortality since the 1918 Spanish flu and saw the rollout of a new batch of measures.