Swedish MPs enjoy election income boost

More than four of five new Swedish members of parliament have earned an increase in their annual income following their election to the Riksdag after the September general election.

Swedish MPs enjoy election income boost
Melker Dahlstrand/Riksdag (File); Emil Frisk (File)

A third of the new MPs have managed to more than double their income, according to a review by the Dagens Industri daily.

100 of 123 new parliamentarians have boosted their income by claiming their 56,000 kronor ($8,391) monthly salary.

Several MPs have joined the parliament directly from school or university and thereby dramatically increased their incomes.

Anton Abele, who last month became the youngest ever Swedish MP at the age of 18, is one of those enjoying the income windfall but explained to the newspaper that he pursued a political career for reasons other than money.

“The money has never been the motivation for me. I have worked on a voluntary basis for the past three years and put in a lot of hours for something that drives me. This is a continuation of that,” Abele told the newspaper.

While Swedish parliamentary salaries are modest by international standards, some MPs, notably the Green Party’s Gustaf Fridolin, argue that the salaries should be cut to prevent an erosion of confidence in politicians.

“It creates a feeling that they live in another reality than that in which oneself comes from,” he told the TT news agency.

A salary of 46,000 kronor would still come in above the Swedish average salary and far higher than the sum earned by many voters. Fridolin however argued that the change would be a step towards addressing the situation and boost faith in politicians.

“It would be a clear statement that the problem has been noted and that you want to do something about it.

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‘Success is all about having the right spices’

Karim Rezaul, owner of Sweden's Indian Garden restaurant chain, tells The Local about his newest restaurant, life for a Bangladeshi man in Stockholm, and the importance of "having the right mix of spices" to spark a successful Swedish career.

'Success is all about having the right spices'

Karim Rezaul was born in Bangladesh, and after a stint in the UK in the mid-nineties decided to take a chance on Sweden – even though the Indian food scene wasn’t so strong back then.

“I came here in 1995 after I met a woman who lived here,” he tells The Local on the site of his fourth and newest Indian Garden restaurant in Liljeholmen.

While the Swedes still hadn’t developed tastebuds for good Indian food, Rezaul busied himself with getting married and experimenting with the right spice mixes while working at a number of restaurants around the city.

IN PICTURES: Take a close up look at some of Chef Rezaul’s dishes

“I worked in many places, always making my own spice mixes; I played around all the time. When I found which ones worked, the ones people really, really liked, then I wrote them all down,” he says.

Eventually, after being employed at the Indian Garden on Stockholm’s Södermalm for six years, Rezaul purchased the restaurant in 2002 and unleashed his secret recipes on diners who quickly lapped them up.

“I changed the whole concept,” he says. “And my wife was a great waitress. Together, it worked.”

And it worked indeed. Word of mouth spread, and before long, Rezaul opened another restaurant, and then another. Now, in September 2013, he’s opened his fourth – Indian Garden Liljeholmen.

“This area is really nice, one of my favourite places in Stockholm. The water’s right there, the city’s close. A lot of people in this area asked for a good Indian restaurant in Liljeholm so we took the chance,” he explains.

The restaurant, a two-story locale with enormously high ceilings and views over the harbour, is located on the Sjövikstorget square just a few minutes walk from the Liljeholmen metro.

For Rezaul, cooking has been a lifelong dream that was born after he cooked with his mother as a child. In fact, one of the dishes on the new menu – the Lamb Roshnai – is dedicated to the memory of his grandfather, who also cooked the same dish. “When I miss him, I’ve always cooked it,” Rezaul says wistfully.

The secret to his culinary success?

“You’ve gotta have the right mix of spices. Swedes don’t like things that are too strong, not as much as we do in Bangladesh for example. And good presentation is important too, of course.”

While Rezaul claims to be no guru on giving advice to those wanting to move to Sweden, he admits that the language is one of the keys to success.

“Swedish is really important to learn, absolutely. I couldn’t go to school so much with my restaurant commitments, and just learnt by speaking with people I met, quite simply. And outside of the restaurant branch, my best advice to people is that Sweden is a great country to study, you can really take a chance on that,” he says.

“My only complaint about Sweden is the cold, but I love it here in the summer,” he adds.

“But I’m very motivated by the possibilities of the future. Swedes didn’t like Indian food so much ten years ago, now they love it,” he says, acknowledging that his restaurants have had a large part in making Indian cuisine a staple among Swedish restaurant goers.

As for now, Rezaul isn’t planning to open any more restaurants. Instead, he’ll focus on the new Liljeholmen location and his other three.

So lastly, what does the Bangladeshi expert on Indian food think about Swedish cuisine? Do Swedes have good food taste?

“Yes, overall, they absolutely do. When it comes to Swedish food, some dishes are quite good indeed. If I had to pick a favourite, it’d have to be the Wallenbergare,” he says with a laugh.

Oliver Gee

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