Swedish word of the day: sakpolitik

Today's word of the day will be cropping up a lot in Swedish news over the next few weeks: sakpolitik.

Swedish word of the day: sakpolitik
You'll hear this word a lot on Swedish news over the coming days. Image: nito103/Depositphotos

Sak means 'thing' and politik can mean either 'politics' or 'policy', so sakpolitik means… 'policy about things'.

In Swedish, it stands in opposition to idépolitik, which literally means 'policy of ideas', and refers to party ideology and principles. Sakpolitik is a broad category, and can be broken down into policies relating to areas such as schools, healthcare, law and order, foreign policy, and so on.

The key thing is that all these issues are current and require action by politicians (such as introducing legislation, upping funding in a budget, and so on). Translated into English, you might define it as 'policies of substance', 'concrete policies' or 'sector policies'.

Sometimes you'll get what are called intressepartier (interest parties), which only concern themselves with one or more of these concrete, sakpolitiska (that's the plural adjectival form) issues – for example, parties set up to defend pensioners' rights or to oppose a specific project. 

So why is this word relevant today? Well, if politicians can agree on sakpolitik, such as the best strategy to improve healthcare or to tackle climate change, they can reach deals despite even large differences in idépolitik.

Currently, no group in Sweden's parliament has anywhere close to a majority, and so cross-party talks are taking place. The leader of the Centre Party, Annie Lööf, has said she wants to discuss sakpolitik with the other party leaders, in order to feel out support from both the left and the right of the political spectrum. If there's enough common ground in this area, Sweden might see some progress in government formation.


Jag vill att vi diskutera sakpolitik, till exempel klimatpolitik

I want us to discuss concrete policies, for example climate policy

Vi måste sätta mer fokus på sakpolitik än ideologi

We want to put more focus on concrete policy than on ideology

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​​Swedish word of the day: ockerhyra

A word of the day which makes strange use of usury.

​​Swedish word of the day: ockerhyra

Ocker is the Swedish word for usury, and not the Australian for someone who “speaks and acts in a rough and uncultivated manner, using Strine, a broad Australian accent” for the Aussies out there who might recognise the term. 

Usury, of course, is when a lender makes monetary loans which unfairly enrich them. The term is used either in a moral sense, then as a condemnation of taking advantage of others’ misfortune, or in a strictly legal sense, where ocker refers to the crime of charging a higher interest rate for a loan than that which is allowed by the law. You might know an individual who does that not as a usurer, but a loan shark

But ockerhyra has nothing to do with loans or loansharks, at least not directly. The shark, however, might still be there, as you will see.

Hyra simply means ‘rent’ – in this case the rent you pay for an apartment or any other rental property. So ockerhyra means ‘usury rent’, but how can a rent be usurious? Well, it cannot since it is not a loan. What instead is meant here, is at least part of the moral sense of the word ‘usury’, whereby someone is taking advantage of another’s situation. 

Someone setting an andrahandshyra, a second hand rent, which is unreasonably high, would be setting an ockerhyra. This is a topic which The Local has previously dealt with, and there are instances to get help with that. The main reason people can get away with this is because many are desperate to find a place in the city, often Stockholm, and therefore will not alert the authorities. But also, owing to the fact that it is not a punishable crime, all that might happen is that the person subletting their place for more than is reasonable might be forced to pay some money back.

Furthermore, the word ockerhyra does not necessarily imply this type of scenario, it can also be used to generally complain about rents being too high. And many do complain about this.

Do you feel a bit upset about the sometimes absurd rents in Stockholm or in another city? Why not make use of the word ockerhyror in a conversation on the topic?

Just remember that the word is quite strong, so try not to accuse a friend of charging an ockerhyra – might be safer to just question whether they are charging a bit much. Good luck!

Example sentences:

Alltså, det är verkligen ockerhyror på nybyggnationer! Jag är sååå trött på den här skiten.

I mean come on, the rents on new builds are outrageous! I’m sick and tired of this shit.

Duncan, varför tar du ockerhyra på stället du hyr ut i andrahand?

Duncan, why are you charging an exaggerated rent on the place you’re subletting?

Villa, Volvo, Vovve: The Local’s Word Guide to Swedish Life, written by The Local’s journalists, is now available to order. Head to to read more about it. It is also possible to buy your copy from Amazon US, Amazon UK, Bokus or Adlibris.