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TODAY IN SWEDEN

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

Prison for sex-buyers, passport appointments doubled, and Easter Covid advice. Find out what's going on in Sweden today with The Local's short roundup.

Top Spain court reinstates first sex workers' union
A woman looks out of a window in Spain. Source: AFP

Swedish police to double number of passport appointment times 

From Easter Monday, police in Sweden will extend opening times at passport offices so that the number of appointment times for those seeking a new passport will double. 

In a press release issued on Thursday evening, the police said there were also recruiting 400 new staff to deal with the post-pandemic surge in applications which has led to waiting times more than six months long in some regions. 

“We are working across the board to improve the situation. From Monday onwards we are going to increase opening times successively and bring in the possibility to book passport times even outside office hours,” said Per Engström, who has been appointed to lead “a national special event” for the passport crisis.

Swedish Vocab: att fördubbla – to double 

Sweden proposes mandatory prison sentences for sex-buyers

People found guilty of buying sex will no longer be able to get away with a fine, under new proposals to tighten up Sweden’s sex law presented on Thursday evening.  

The proposals, are part of a new 40-point program to crack down on male violence against women agreed between the Social Democrats and the Green Party. 

The minimum punishment for rape and child rape is also increased to three years in prison under the proposal. 

Swedish Vocab: en torsk – a sex-buyer (slang)  

Swedish PM on Nato: ‘I see no point in delaying the process’

Sweden’s Prime Minister said on Wednesday that she aimed to make a decision on Nato membership early enough for it not to clash with this September’s general election, as her Finnish counterpart said her country would decide “within weeks”.

Speaking at a joint press conference in Stockholm with Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin, Andersson said that while Sweden would take as much time as necessary to properly assess the changed security situation, it would not draw out the process unnecessarily.

“I see no point in delaying this analysis, or the process,” she said. “We also have elections in September, so we want to, of course, later in the year have more focus on that.”

Finland’s parliament will next week start a plenary session to discuss the implications of the Finnish government’s reassessment of the security environment following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which was published on Wednesday and which concluded that if Finland joined Nato “the deterrent effect” would be “considerably stronger than it is at present as it would be based on the capabilities of the entire Alliance”.

“I think it will happen quite fast. Within weeks, not within months,” Marin told reporters at the press conference.

You can read our full story here

Swedish Vocab: ett nytt säkerhetspolitiskt läge – a new security situation 

Sweden’s PM wants to apply to join Nato at end of June: report

Sweden’s Prime Minister has already decided to join Nato, with her government planning to submit Sweden’s application at the Madrid summit of the security alliance at the end of June, the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper has reported.

The newspaper made the claim in a column by its political commentator, on the day that Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson is due to meet her Finnish counterpart Sanna Marin in Stockholm to discuss the publication of Finland’s new report on the security situation.

At the same time, the Aftonbladet newspaper reported that the Social Democrats have called a special meeting of the party’s ruling committee for May 24th, where it could decide to back Nato membership.

The meeting, the newspaper claims, will be the culmination of a six-week internal party dialogue punctuated by three national meetings on security politics, and a meeting in Stockholm on May 23rd of all 26 district chairs.

It is scheduled to last for five hours and will take place at the party headquarters in Stockholm.

You can read our full story here

Swedish Vocab: gräsrötterna – the grass roots/the base of a political party 

‘Stay away from elderly at Easter if you are sick’: Swedish Public Health Agency

Sweden’s Public Health Agency has recommended that people in Sweden keep a look for symptoms among themselves, especially if they are planning to celebrate Easter with the elderly. 

“You need to make your own judgement. It’s not as strict as it was earlier when it was the even the mildest symptoms, but you should make your own assessment,” Britta Björkholm, a unit chief with the Public Health Agency, told TT. 

“If you’re vaccinated, we see no reason under the recommendations to limit your travel or Easter celebrations.” 

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TODAY IN SWEDEN

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

New moves towards Nato, Ukrainians to Lund, and a fall in online sales. Find out what's going on in Sweden, with The Local's short roundup.

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

Left-wing Aftonbladet newspaper backs Nato membership

The Aftonbladet newspaper, which describes itself as reflecting an “independent Social Democrat” viewpoint, has switched sides on Nato, with the newspaper’s chief political editor Anders Lindberg arguing in an editorial that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine makes membership of the security organisation necessary. 

“Vladimir Putin’s war demonstrates that we need to join Nato to guarantee Sweden’s security,” Lindberg wrote in an article on Wednesday.  

“I have never previously supported Swedish membership of Nato,” he explained. “On the contrary, I have argued that non-alignment, a strong national defence, and a pragmatic foreign and security policy has worked extremely well. It has kept us out of war and promoted our national interests.”  

But he said that Russia’s invasion had created a “security deficit in Northern Europe”. 

“When I read the arguments for continued military non-alignment, I cannot see any answers to the question of how we should compensate for this deficit,” he wrote. 

Swedish Vocab: en underksott – a deficit 

Finnish parliament to hold historic Nato debate 

The Finnish parliament is to hold a historic five-hour debate in parliament on Wednesday afternoon, which if it backs Nato membership, will make Nato membership for Sweden much more likely. 

The key will be the position taken by the Social Democrats, the part led by Prime Minister Sanna Marin, and also of the Centre Party, who say they will back Nato membership if the government as a whole does. 

The debate starts at 1.15pm Swedish time. 

Swedish Vocab: en besked – an indication/statement

‘No evidence riots result of foreign influence operation’

The new Swedish Psychological Defence Agency said on Wednesday that there was no evidence the riots over the weekend were encouraged by overseas powers. 

“At present we do not see any ongoing inappropriate influence operations against Sweden,” said Mikael Östlund, the communications chief at the Swedish Psychological Defence Agency. 

Police on Monday said that ahead of the riots over the Easter weekend, they had seen encouragement coming from overseas social media accounts. 

“We know that they is information about encouragement to commit violence against police officers, which has been orchestrated overseas,” said Jonas Hysing, the police officer leading the response to the riots, on Monday. ¨

Swedish vocab: påverkanskampanj – influence operation 

Lund wants to recruit more Ukrainian students 

Lund University wants to make it easier for students from Ukraine to study in Sweden, and has signed an exchange agreement with the Taras Sjevtjenko University in Kiev, it announced in a press release. There were ten Ukrainians studying in lund before Russia’s invasion, and the university aims for that number to increase and for those who are studying to be offered grants. 

Swedish vocab: att locka – to attract 

Swedish PM: ‘Police right to allow Paludan to burn Koran’
 
Sweden’s Prime Minister, Magdalena Andersson, has said that the police decision to allow Danish far-Right activist Rasmus Paludan to hold
a Koran-burning demonstration was correct under Sweden’s strong freedom of expression laws, and that, equally, those opposed have a right to mount a counter demonstration. 
 
“You have the right to demonstrate against it – but peacefully. What we’ve seen is something totally different, and it seems, as police are saying, that there have also been criminal gangs behind this.” 
 
“It’s important,” she added, “that those responsible are arrested and prosecuted.” 
 
She said the pictures of the riots had been “terrible”. “I have of course had a lot of thoughts about the police officers who were wounded.”
 
Swedish vocab: yttrandefriheten – freedom of expression
 
 
E-commerce falls from pandemic peak in Sweden

Revenues from e-commerce sites in Sweden fell 17 percent in March compared to the same month last year, according to the Swedish Trade Federation, with all the signs being that sales will decline this year compared to 2021.  

“The growth in e-commerce is flattening out, but it’s also a fact that the average purchase level in March 2022 was still 70 percent higher than just before the pandemic. The relatively high revenues from e-commerce are shadowed by the record year we saw in 2021,” said Johan Davidson, the trade body’s chief economist. 

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