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Today in Sweden: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday

Find out what's going on in Sweden today with The Local's short roundup of the news in less than five minutes.

Prison warden Lars Widholm opens a door at Skenäs prison outside Norrköping
Prison warden Lars Widholm opens a door at Skenäs prison outside Norrköping. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Sweden’s PM: ‘I do not rule out Nato membership’

Sweden’s Prime Minister has declared that she no longer rules out Nato membership, in a sign of the shifting position of the ruling Social Democrats.

“I do not rule out Nato membership in any way,” Magdalena Andersson told Sweden’s state broadcaster SVT. “But I want to make a well-founded analysis of the possibilities open to us and the threats and risks and involved, to be able to take the decision that is best for Sweden.”

Andersson faced criticism from opposition parties earlier this month when she warned that a Nato application from Sweden in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine risked “further destabilising the security of this part of Europe”.

Her party has also taken a decision at its annual congress not to join Nato, but Andersson told SVT that this decision had been taken in a different geopolitical situation, and could be revised.

Swedish Vocab: att utesluta — to rule out

Sweden Democrat MP leaves party after sharing Russian propaganda 

The Sweden Democrat MP Roger Richthoff is leaving the Sweden Democrats after he shared a video on Facebook which thanked Russia for the invasion of Ukraine, and included Russian propaganda on Ukrainian biological weapons, and claimed that the Nazis in Ukraine were funded by Jews who wanted to destroy Christianity in the country. 

He will also no longer represent the party in the parliament’s defence committee. 

“We do no longer have confidence in Roger Richthoff as an MP in the defence,” Henrik Vinge, the party’s group leader in parliament, told TT. 

Swedish Vocab: politisk vilde — politically independent (an independent MP)

Only half as many rooms needed for Ukrainian refugees: Migration Agency

Sweden’s Migration Agency has reduced its prognosis for the level of emergency accommodation municipalities need to provide for Ukrainian refugees by half.

According to the agency, Sweden will only need about 6,000 so-called evakueringsplatser or ‘evacuation accommodation in Sweden’s municipality, down from the 12,000 estimated earlier. So far municipalities have made about 4,500 such places available in places such as campsites or schools. 

Swedish Vocab: en bedömning — a judgement, estimate 

Swedish anti-tank weapons ‘unexpectedly effective’: 

Sweden’s Pansarskott 86 anti-armed vehicle weapons have shown themselves to be unexpectedly effective, taking out several heavily armoured tanks, even though Swedish Armed Forces normally only consider them sufficiently powerful to take out lightly armoured vehicles. 

“The catastrophic effects we have seen from being hit by a portable anti-tank weapon has anyway surprised me,” Lieutenant-Colonel Joakim Paasikivi told Norway’s state broadcaster NRK. 

The weapon’s effectiveness in Ukraine, he said, might be down to skilled use by Ukrainian troops, and their ability to find the best possible angle from which to fire them, or it might be down to the fact that Russian tanks are more poorly constructed than expected. 

“The ammunition is stored in the gun tower, so if you hit it around the gun tower you might cause the ammunition to explode, which will blow the tower clean off and kill the crew,” he said. 

Sweden has sent 10,000 anti-tank weapons to Ukraine, Norway has sent 4,000 of the M72 variety, which is also handheld but slightly weaker than the Swedish Pansarskott 86.

Swedish Vocab: att överraska — to surprise

Sweden could now make escaping from prison illegal

Sweden could finally make escaping from prison illegal, after the Green Party switched sides on the issue, giving a proposal to bring in a new law a parliamentary majority. Sweden has long been among the handful of countries where escaping from prison is legal, meaning those that do so and our caught face no additional punishment. 
The Moderate Party, Sweden Democrats, Christian Democrats and Liberal Parties have historically been in favour of making escaping from prison illegal, while the Social Democrats, Left Party, Centre Party and Green Party have historically been against it. 
Escaping from prison remains legal in a number of countries, including Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and Austria. 

Swedish Vocab: att rymma — to escape

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Today in Sweden: A roundup of the latest news on Friday

Biden backs Sweden in Nato, first case of monkeypox and labour market heating up. Here's Friday's news.

Today in Sweden: A roundup of the latest news on Friday

Sweden registers first confirmed case of monkeypox

One person in Sweden has a confirmed case of monkeypox, health authorities said on Thursday following similar cases in Europe and North America.

The rare disease usually manifests itself through fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a rash on the hands and face.

“One person in the Stockholm region has been confirmed to be infected with monkey pox,” Sweden’s Public Health Agency said in a statement.

The infected person “is not seriously ill, but has been given care,” according to the agency.

“We still don’t know where the person was infected. An investigation is currently underway,” Klara Sonden, an infectious disease doctor and investigator at the agency, said in a statement.

The health authority is now “investigating with the regional infection control centres whether there are more cases in Sweden,” it said.

On Wednesday, Spain, Portugal, Canada and the United States all reported having cases of confirmed or suspected monkeypox.

Authorities have generally been reassuring, with Spanish and Portuguese officials stressing that the disease is not very contagious between humans.

Swedish vocabulary: apkoppor – monkeypox

Biden gives ‘full, total, complete backing’ for Swedish Nato bid

US President Joe Biden on Thursday strongly backed Finland and Sweden’s bid to join Nato in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as the Nordic nations’ leaders promised to address concerns raised by Turkey.

With the red-carpet pomp of a White House visit, Biden welcomed Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto days after they formally announced their Nato aspirations and said he was submitting their applications to the US Congress, where there is bipartisan support for ratification.

“The bottom line is simple. Quite straightforward: Finland and Sweden make Nato stronger,” Biden said, offering the “full, total, complete backing of the United States of America.”

“Sweden and Finland have strong democratic institutions, strong militaries and strong and transparent economies, and a strong moral sense of what is right,” Biden said with the two leaders at his side in the White House Rose Garden.

“They meet every Nato requirement, and then some,” Biden told assembled reporters without taking any questions.

Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate who frequently fights Biden’s agenda, said he would seek quick action on the bids by Sweden and Finland. He noted that Finland already commits two percent of its GDP to defence and that Sweden “is on pace to reach that target very soon” — a threshold backed by Nato and long pushed by Washington.

“These nations are setting an example which current treaty allies would do well to follow,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “So I’ll be proud to continue amplifying their case for accession however I can.”

Swedish vocabulary: backar – to back

Labour market set to heat up over summer

According to new figures, this summer’s job market looks to be heating up.

Employers’ demand for staff has reached the highest summer levels ever, according to staffing company Manpowers’ quarterly measurements which started the measurements 19 years ago.

The employment index is standing at +25 before the third quarter and is based on 765 interviews with Swedish employers. Although lower than last quarter’s figure of +37, this is still the highest reported figure for a summer period.

The index shows the amount of employers planning to hire over the summer, minus those who are not.

“The high demand for staff is continuing despite high inflation and war close by,” Mikael Hansson, the staffing company’s Swedish boss wrote in a press statement.

The measurement was carried out between April 1st-29th, which means that factors such as the war in Ukraine and increased inflation are included in the figures, Manpower states.

All Swedish regions gave positive prognoses in all branches, but central Sweden showed a sharp decrease in the employment prognosis compared to the previous quarter. Stockholm and the Uppsala region and southern Sweden reported the strongest figures.

Swedish vocabulary: sysselsättning – employment