Swedish opposition leader: ‘In Sweden, we speak Swedish’

In Sweden, people should speak Swedish, said the leader of Sweden's opposition party in his Christmas speech on Friday.

Swedish opposition leader: 'In Sweden, we speak Swedish'
Ulf Kristersson gives the speech in Stockholm. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

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.


Swedish MEP comes forward as accuser in Christian Democrat ‘me-too’ case

Sara Skyttedal, a leading Christian Democrat MEP, has come forward as the woman who reported party secretary Johan Ingerö to the police, leading to his sudden dismissal on Tuesday.

Swedish MEP comes forward as accuser in Christian Democrat 'me-too' case

Johan Ingerö, the Christian Democrat policy advisor who helped develop its harder, more populist approach, was dismissed on Tuesday after Skyttedal reported him to the police for a sexual crime at a post-election party in May 2014. 

“I have not yet seen the [police] report, but from the little information I have received, I know which occasion it concerns and that what is being claimed is not true,” Ingerö said in a Facebook post explaining why he had had to leave. “Whatever the facts, the judgement has been taken that I can no longer carry out my duties as party secretary. It is of course a great sorrow to leave in this way.”

Skyttedal, who was the leader of the Christian Democrats’ youth wing, the KDU, at the time of the alleged incident, followed up with her own Facebook post on Tuesday evening.

“Eight years ago, a party colleague decided, against my will, to try and lay claim to my body. For all these years I have been silent. Tried to suppress what happened,” she wrote in a Facebook post which has since been removed following a large volume of hateful comments.

“I wish I’d said something earlier and feel ashamed that I did not act more powerfully in that moment.”

“That is why the other week, I decided to report the event to the police. The process will play out in the legal system and I will sadly be limited on how much I can comment in future.” 

Skyttedal further explained the background behind why she chose to report the incident now, eight years later.

“A few weeks ago the man crossed a line again, and that was the last straw,” she explained. “A professional line, not even close to the line crossed eight years ago. But something snapped. He, of all people, did not have the right to treat me badly again.”

It is not yet clear which specific crime or crimes Ingerö has been accused of. If he has been accused of ofredande or sexuellt ofredande (molestation or sexual molestation), the statute of limitations for those specific crimes will have expired and he will not be prosecuted.

The fall-out between Skyttedal and Ingerö may be related to her recent outspoken support of drug reform. 

Skyttedal in December went against Christian Democrat party line and began to campaign for the legalisation of cannabis.

She was then interviewed on SVT’s flagship 30 minuter interview programme about her cannabis use, saying she had taken the drug while sitting as an MEP, but only in countries where using the drug is legal.

Christian Democrat party leader Ebba Busch wrote on the party’s website that she had been informed of the accusations on January 29 and that the party had “handled this according to set procedures”.

“It has been handled with the care it requires. Regardless of the reason for Johan leaving his post, the report raises questions about Johan’s ability to fulfil his fiduciary duties,” she wrote.