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The Year in Review
Sweden's biggest news stories in 2012

Sweden's biggest news stories in 2012

Published: 21 Dec 2012 17:01 GMT+01:00
Updated: 21 Dec 2012 17:01 GMT+01:00

With the end of 2012 in sight, The Local looks back at some of the stories that dominated headlines in Sweden over the past year.

A lot can happen in a year, and 2012 was no exception.

With the new year just around the corner, we took some time to sift through the hundreds of stories that appeared on The Local in the past 12 months.

After a thorough review, we identified a few news stories that not only dominated Sweden's domestic news agenda, but also put Sweden in the headlines abroad.

The birth of Princess Estelle

On a morning in late February, Swedes awoke to news that a very pregnant Crown Princess Victoria had been taken to hospital. A few hours later, the Royal Court made news of the royal birth official:

The Marshall of the Realm is happy to announce that H.R.H Crown Princess Victoria on Thursday the 23rd of Februrary 2012 at 04.26 gave birth to a daughter.

Both mother and child are doing well.

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The birth of the new princess, later christened Estelle Silvia Ewa Mary, Duchess of Östergötland, was a high point for Sweden's monarchy, which has struggled with a bout of bad publicity in the last couple of years.

Not only is the birth of Sweden's future head of state significant for the country, the royal birth – Sweden's first in more than three decades – attracted a huge amount of international media attention as well, as did her baptism in May.

Loreen's Eurovision win

Sweden went mad with Eurovision mania in May, when Loreen took home the title for the Swedes in Azerbaijan with her hit Euphoria.

Sweden was behind the singer from the beginning, voting her through in the preliminary Melodifestivalen rounds, and holding their collective breath for the finals in Baku.

Loreen’s whirling and shadowy dance routine in the live performance prompted fan videos from around the world, including one we featured from the UK with dancing animals at a wildlife park.

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--Fans divided as Malmö to host Eurovision 2013

In July, officials confirmed the 2013 Eurovision finals would be held in Malmö, southern Sweden. The news baffled some Stockholm fans and disappointed some Gothenburgers, whose cities had also been in the running to host the event.

While the 2013 competition to elect Sweden's entrant has yet to get underway, Swedes and music fans across Europe are already setting their sights on Malmö to see who will claim the title next.

Exit Juholt, enter Löfven

After 10 tumultuous months marred by scandal and questions about his leadership, Håkan Juholt resigned as leader of the opposition Social Democrat Party in February, giving way to union boss Stefan Löfven.

The previous head of the powerful IF Metall union helped bring much needed stability to the party, which was stuck in an extended struggle to recover from the dismal election results in 2010 that prompted then-party leader Mona Sahlin to resign.

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Löfven gave the party a bump in polls and, by keeping a low profile, allowed voters and the party to focus on other matters.

Despite an extended period of calm under Löfven's leadership, the electoral prospects of the Social Democrats in 2014 remain uncertain.

Sweden's Twitter success

This year was also a big year for Sweden, or should we say @sweden, when it came to social media.

Officials at Visit Sweden and the Swedish Institute launched an initiative where a different Swede took over the @sweden Twitter account each week – and the world listened.

It didn't hurt that some of the curators issued a few head-turning tweets, including posts about masturbation and one including a picture of a curator breastfeeding.

And The Local was right in the thick of it when US comedian and talk show host Stephen Colbert got wind of the account after the world was collectively outraged and curious about Sonja Abramsson’s tweets that asked "what's the fuzz with Jews?"

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Colbert launched his own campaign to take over the account himself, but Swedish officials eventually brushed him off, remaining true to their initial guidelines that state only Swedish citizens can Tweet be @sweden.

The account currently has almost 70,000 followers, and has inspired similar national accounts far and wide.

Racist cake and other debates

Sweden's Culture Minister Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth dished up a heaping portion of global outrage when she cut into a cake at the opening of an art exhibit in Stockholm in April

The cake was designed to reflect widely held stereotypes of a black woman’s body, but when the artist Makode Linde, who was hiding inside, started screaming, it created a scene which caused people around the world to drop their forks in shock.

The minster's racist cake cutting drew sharp criticism from African-Swedes, civil rights groups abroad, and even from Swedish pop queen Robyn.

Adelsohn Liljeroth apologized but ignored calls for her resignation.

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--Minister in 'racist circumcision outrage'

--'Racist' ads removed for Swedish kids' film

--Black doll cut from Swedish Disney mash-up

Cutting the cake, some said, conjured up images of female genital mutilation, a practice widely considered barbaric but still practiced by some African communities, increasingly in secret.

The incident was one of several which prompted Swedes to debate racial stereotypes in 2012, including the decision to remove Tintin comic books from library shelves, and questions about whether a children's book with multicoloured characters may have also had racist overtones.

And just last week, public opinion was divided once again over whether it was right to delete scenes from Swedes' much-loved Christmas Eve Disney mash-up.

Fantastic football feats

After Sweden's dismal performance at the Euro 2012 football tournament this spring, many fans wondered if the year would give them anything to cheer about.

But a couple of incredible performances later in the year have all but overshadowed Sweden's Euro disappointment, buoying hopes that Erik Hamrén's side may yet achieve greatness in the next big international tournament – the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

In October, the men's national side mounted an unprecedented comeback against Germany, salvaging a draw after being down by four goals, in what the Swedish press hailed as the "miracle in Berlin".

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--Swedish press hails 'miracle in Berlin'

--Zlatan nets four as Sweden claim victory

--Praise aplenty for Zlatan after 'best goal ever' (includes video)

A few weeks later, Sweden's football fans were in for another unexpected treat when star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic single-handedly beat England, scoring four goals, including a spectacular bicycle kick many commentators claimed was the best football goal ever scored.

Of course, it remains to be seen if this pair of noteworthy performances will be the exception or the rule as Sweden continues its World Cup qualifying campaign.

The fall of the Swedish economy

In 2011, the Swedish economy was fêted far and wide for somehow managing to avoid being sucked into the financial woes that had dogged the rest of Europe.

But the Swedish economy steadily lost its sheen in 2012, proving that not even the much-vaunted and mythical "Swedish model" managed by Finance Minister Anders Borg could withstand the effects of the eurozone debt crisis.

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--Swedish economy hit by eurozone troubles

--Sweden budget bill sparks heated debate

--Sweden slashes 2013 growth forecast

Already by February, statistics revealed that the juggernaut Swedish economy that broke growth records in 2011 was set for a much more sluggish 2012, prompting a series of interest rate cuts by the Riksbank, Sweden's central bank, and forcing Borg to lower continually his previous bullish growth forecasts.

Borg also found himself in the hot seat when he presented the budget, drawing criticism for overly optimistic predictions and deficit spending.

While the government likes to tell voters that its policies have kept Sweden better off than many other countries, heading into 2013, it appears that perhaps the Swedish economy may not be as exceptional as previously thought.

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