Instrument of Government (1719)

The Instrument of Government of 1719 (Swedish: 1719 års regeringsform) adopted on 21 February 1719 by the Riksdag of the Estates was one of the fundamental laws that made up the constitution of Sweden from 1719 to 1772. It came about after the succession crisis which occurred after the death of Charles XII of Sweden, when the monarch died childless during the Great Northern War, leaving two potential heirs: his sister Ulrica Eleonora of Sweden, and his nephew Charles Frederick, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp.[1][page needed] The constitution was a result of the agreement made between Ulrica Eleonora and the Riksdag of the Estates, were the latter acknowledged her as queen regnant in exchange for signing a new constitution of reduced royal power and introduction of a parliamentarian system.[2][page needed] The Instrument of Government of 1719 was only revised to a very small extent in the following Instrument of Government (1720), and it can therefore said to be in effect during the entire Age of Liberty, and represent the political system in Sweden until the Swedish Constitution of 1772.

The Instrument of Government of 1719 abolished the Carolinian absolute monarchy with a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary system, where the monarch shared his/her power with the parliament referred to as the Riksdag of the Estates. The Riksdag of the Estates consisted of the estates of the nobility, clergy, burghers and the peasantry, which were elected by those eligible to vote. Also women were in fact granted limited suffrage, providing they were taxpaying guild members of legal majority.[3] The Government was referred to as the Royal Council. It consisted of 16 members, from the first three estates of the Riksdag. The members were appointed by the Riksdag: each of the first three estates appointed three candidates for the cabinet posts of government to the monarch, who were then allowed to select his/her preferred candidate among the three. During the votes among the members of government, every member had one vote each, while the monarch had two.