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PRESS

Editor resigns over ‘racist’ press subsidy

Martin Ahlquist, editor-in-chief of Swedish news weekly Fokus, has resigned his post on the Press Subsidies Council (Presstödsnämnden) after a decision to award state funds to an extreme-right newspaper.

Editor resigns over 'racist' press subsidy

The decision to award 2.3 million kronor ($319,000) in state press subsidies to the openly xenophobic National Democrats’ newspaper Nationell Idag (‘National Today’), has prompted Ahlquist to call for a change in guidelines governing support.

“The decision is in line with established rules stating that the council can not take a newspaper’s content into account. If tax money is given to the spread of racism then it is a clear signal to me that the rules are wrong,” Ahlquist wrote in a statement on the Fokus website.

Ahlquist, who had a role as substitute on the council, which allocates 483 million kronor per annum to around 80 newspapers, argues in his statement that “racism is not diversity” and points out that neither Sveriges Television (SVT) nor Sveriges Radio (SR) are permitted to broadcast programmes which “spread hatred or insult”.

“I can not stand behind a regulatory framework which functions in this way and so I have thus resigned from the council,” he writes.

Nationell Idag was granted 699,583 kronor for August to December last year, as well as 1.679 million kronor for 2010.

The decision did not enjoy unanimous support, with one of the nine council representatives present calling for a further examination of whether Nationell Idag can be considered a “general newspaper that has the publication of regular general news as its primary function.”

The National Democrat party, which enjoys very little support among the electorate, blames the majority of Sweden’s modern day problems on immigration, as it explains on its website:

“Nordic virtues such as honesty, helpfulness, willingness to work, a good attitude toward women and respectful treatment of animals, are constantly being replaced by criminality and oppression of women, hostility against Swedes, abuse of social welfare, gang rapes and cruelty to animals. All as a consequence of the imposed multi-cultural society.”

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ELECTION

Swedish press highlights Obama challenges

Following the significant coverage of the US elections in the Swedish media, the opinion pages of the four main newspapers have moved focus to the challenges which lie ahead for the re-elected American president and the impact these will have on the country as well as the rest of the world.

Swedish press highlights Obama challenges

Independently liberal broadsheet Dagens Nyheter (DN) wrote on Thursday that Obama should follow Clinton’s example from 1994 and steer Democrat policy toward the middle of the political spectrum.

“The responsibility rests heavy on Obama’s shoulders to shape the next term of office. He must compromise and open up for dialogue with the opposition in congress. That’s the only way to expose their rigidity,” the paper wrote.

DN also said that there are major challenges ahead for President Obama and that the nation will be facing fiscal ruin in case the Democrats and the Republicans fail to together solve the financial crisis in the country, something which surely also affects the rest of the world.

Another Swedish paper that highlighted the international need for a strong US was tabloid Expressen, also independently liberal, which wrote that reaching an agreement on the nation’s finances with the opposition will be the big test to Obama’s second term in office.

“Will he manage to reach a budget compromise with the Republicans that both increases taxes ad slashes costs? If not, the US risks being thrown off the fiscal cliff which will send the US as well as the rest of the world into another recession,” the paper wrote.

In the independently liberal-conservative broadsheet, Svenska Dagbladet (SvD), political scientist Marcus Oscarsson wrote that the tests that await president Obama during his second term will be significant.

“The challenges ahead of the re-elected president are gigantic. The ever increasing national debt and the huge budget deficit will be an immediate test,“ he wrote for SvD.

As if this wasn’t enough, the nation is at the same time trying to deal with unemployment figures at 7.9 percent.

Neither will the fact that the Republicans are still in majority in the House of Representatives make it any easier for Obama in his second term of office, argues Oscarsson.

In the independently social-democratic tabloid Aftonbladet, editorial writer Karin Petterson was pondering what Obama will do next; which battle he will choose to take on.

Provided he reaches a crucial agreement with the Republicans on state finances, he will realistically have time to focus only on one more area, she argues, identifying immigration law or climate-friendly energy policies as alternatives.

She added that one must hope the president isn’t too tired after the long and often dirty election campaign.

“Because now he must choose his next battle – and win it,” she wrote.

Rebecca Martin

Follow Rebecca on Twitter here.

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