Sweden profile

King: Carl XVI Gustaf

King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden attends his birthday ceremony at the Royal Palace in Stockholm on 30 April 2014 Sweden's king fulfils a purely ceremonial role

King Carl XVI Gustaf ascended the throne in 1973, on the death of his grandfather Gustaf VI Adolf. The current king's father died in a plane crash in 1947, when Carl Gustav was only nine months old.

During his long royal apprenticeship, Carl Gustav underwent the usual military training, but also studied history, politics and economics at Swedish universities, served in the diplomatic corps, and worked in banking and commerce.

Constitutional changes in 1974 deprived the king of all but ceremonial duties, such as opening parliament and representing Sweden at the diplomatic level.

King Carl XVI Gustaf is best known abroad for presenting the annual Nobel Prizes.

He married in 1976, and he and Queen Silvia have three children, the eldest of whom - Princess Victoria - is heir to the throne.

Prime minister: Stefan Lofven

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven

Former union boss Stefan Lofven heads a minority, centre-left coalition government made up of his Social Democrats and the Green Party.

He put together the coalition after parliamentary elections of September 2014, in which his party gained 31% of the votes and the Greens 7%.

One of the first announcements he made was that his government would recognise Palestine as a state, prompting a rebuke from Washington. Sweden would be the first European Union country to recognise Palestine as a state.

He said his party and the Greens had agreed to freeze nuclear energy development.

He promised he would seek wide support for his plans to boost welfare, schools and jobs.

Mr Lofven was only elected to parliament in the elections which brought him to power.

The former welder headed the Swedish Metalworkers' Union (IF Metall) between 2006 and 2012, when he was elected as leader of the Social Democrats.

The Swedish Social Democratic Party is the oldest and largest party in Sweden and dominated the political landscape for much of the time since it was founded in 1889. The party promotes workers' rights and built the modern Swedish welfare state, paid for by progressive taxation.

Mr Lofven's government replaces the Alliance for Sweden, a centre-right coalition headed by Moderate Party leader Fredrik Reinfeldt, which came to power at elections in September 2006, ending 10 years of rule by the Social Democrat Party.

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