The Swedish Constitution (Grundlagen) consists of four Fundamental Laws; the Instrument of Government, the Act of Succession, the Freedom of the Press Act and the Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression. The central provisions on how the state is to be governed are contained in the Instrument of Government. However, all of the fundamental laws except, perhaps, the Act of Succession (regulating the succession of the Swedish monarchy) contain regulations directly relevant to the field of arts and culture.
Article 2, Chapter 1 of the Instrument of Government (1975) concerns the basic principles of government:
Public power shall be exercised with respect to the equal worth of all, and the liberty and dignity of the private person. The personal, economic and cultural welfare of the private person shall be a fundamental aim of public activity. In particular, it shall be incumbent upon the public institutions to secure the right to health, employment, housing and education, and to promote social care and social security. Public institutions shall promote sustainable development leading to a good environment for present and future generations. Public institutions shall promote the ideals of democracy as guidelines in all sectors of society and protect the private and family lives of private persons. Public institutions shall promote the opportunity for all to attain participation and equality in society. The public institutions shall combat discrimination of persons on grounds of gender, colour, national or ethnic origin, linguistic or religious affiliation, functional disability, sexual orientation, age or other circumstance affecting the private person. Opportunities should be promoted for ethnic, linguistic, and religious minorities to preserve and develop a cultural and social life of their own.
These regulations also regard cultural policy, which is often considered a part of the welfare state, and sometimes especially heritage policy is considered part of its environmental policy, promoting a “sustainable development leading to a good environment for present and future generations”. Sweden has a tradition of viewing cultural policy as a democratising force in society, guaranteeing equal access to culture, thus promoting “the opportunity for all to attain participation and equality in society”. ´´The last sentence of the paragraph quoted above, relates to minority culture; “Opportunities should be promoted for ethnic, linguistic, and religious minorities to preserve and develop a cultural and social life of their own.”
In addition to articles on fundamental democratic rights and freedom of expression, information, religion, and assembly, there is a special Article 19 in Chapter 1 of the Instrument of Government concerning artists and artistic copy rights: ”Authors, artists and photographers shall own the rights to their works in accordance with rules laid down in law“. These issues are further regulated in special copyright legislation.
The Freedom of the Press Act (1766) is the oldest existing law on freedom of speech in the world, and in some ways the first. It regulates the principle of openness in government administration as well as freedom of speech in written media. The corresponding freedom of expression on radio, television and other transmissions, as well as in films, video recordings, sound recordings, and other recordings are further regulated in the Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression (1991).