While Swedish is effectively the country’s official language, it has not been written into law. It is, however, an official language in Finland, Åland and the EU.
On paper there appeared to be a majority in favour of formalising the status of Swedish, since the Green Party had aligned itself with the conservative parties pushing for the change.
But MPs rejected the idea by 147 votes to 145, apparently due to a combination of absences and miscast votes.
“We will try again next year,” said Leif Björnlod, who is responsible for the issue within the Green Party.
The government argued that there is simply no point in passing a law that cannot be upheld in any meaningful way.
But Leif Björnlod said it is important to protect the language by law to guarantee that all official documentation is translated to Swedish.
“Primarily it’s important in our work with the EU. Not everyone is bilingual,” he said.