Open Administration

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An important principle in any democracy is the possibility for citizens to have access to insight into the work of the three branches of government; that government is publicly accessible.

This accessibility means that we as citizens have the right to follow the law-making process - we can come to parliament meetings and follow debates, we can read transcripts of debates, and debates may even be broadcast live on TV or on the Internet.

Openness with regard to administration also means that most hearings and trials are public, and that every person has the right to access documents which the police and other authorities may possess containing information about them. There exists, in other words, openness regarding documents and meetings at all levels of social organization including parliament, the courts, and the administration - the legislative, the judicial, and the executive powers.

There are, of course, exceptions in all of these areas, and most of them have to do with national security; for example, if the country is being threatened by a foreign power. Also, in the case of trials, the judge may decide that a hearing take place behind closed doors, in order to protect the people involved in the case.

It is hard to compare degrees of openness in different countries, but openness with regard to administration is a question that has caused great disagreement among the countries of the European Union. The general tendency is towards increased openness, and, especially since Sweden joined the EU, things have improved in this regard.

Next chapter: Local Politics and Participatory Democracy