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Swedish opposition leader: 'In Sweden, we speak Swedish'

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Swedish opposition leader: 'In Sweden, we speak Swedish'
Ulf Kristersson gives the speech in Stockholm. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT
16:44 CET+01:00
In Sweden, people should speak Swedish, said the leader of Sweden's opposition party in his Christmas speech on Friday.

Ulf Kristersson, who leads the Moderates party, spoke about integration at some length in the speech, highlighting three key points which he said could "solve Sweden's problem".

These were: In Sweden people work, in Sweden people speak Swedish, and in Sweden Swedish laws apply.

"Perfect Swedish is snobbishly overrated, but fully comprehensible Swedish is deeply underestimated. If you don't speak the Swedish language, you'll find it really hard to enter Swedish society," said Kristersson.

He also pointed out that new arrivals have a responsibility to make an effort to integrate.

"That's why you shouldn't be able to live on subsidies year after year without doing your utmost to learn Swedish so you can get a job," he said.

OPINION: Why it's time for Swedes to fully accept English in the workplace

"It takes nine years before even half of new arrivals have any kind of job. There are primary schools where the majority don't make it into high school. Gang crime is spreading: 279 shootings already this year, 124 injured and 38 dead," Kristersson continued, highlighting some of the issues linked to social segregation.

Sweden offers free language lessons to all new arrivals under the SFI (Swedish for Immigrants) programme, but many English-speaking foreigners find it easy to live in the country without the language, especially in bigger cities. Swedes are frequently ranked among the best non-native English speakers worldwide and people in for example Sweden's growing tech sector are likely to find themselves in an English-speaking workplace, as several startups have told The Local.

READ ALSO: Dear Swedes, please let us speak Swedish with you

Kristersson's speech also touched on the #MeToo movement to highlight sexual harassment, and the enormous response it has had in Sweden. Kristersson said he was "appalled but not surprised" by the allegations which were brought to light and have sent shockwaves through a country frequently lauded as one of the world's most gender-equal.

The Moderates will present their planned measures to tackle sexual harassment, the party leader said, adding that he had spoken about the #MeToo campaign with his three teenage daughters and encouraging other parents to speak to their children about it.

And he spoke about anti-Semitism in light of the recent attacks against Jews in Sweden. Kristersson said that it was important to condemn all hate crimes equally strongly, whether committed by "native Nazis" or "immigrants from the Middle East". 

"I'm disheartened that so many find it easy to condemn the one, but so hard to use plain language about the other," he said.

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