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

A property price fall, proposed ban on conversion therapy and unemployed academics. Here's the latest news from Sweden on Friday.

Today in Sweden: A roundup of the latest news on Friday
The Swedish Public Employment Agency in Solna.huvudkontor i Solna. Photo: Simon Rehnström/SvD/TT

Increased pressure from political parties to ban conversion therapy

Multiple political parties want to ban so-called conversion therapy, which aims to change young LGBT+ individuals’ sexual orientation.

The Liberals have campaigned for a ban for some time, and a motion has now been submitted to parliament by the Social Democrats. Now, the Moderates and the Centre Party are joining them in calling for conversion therapy to be made illegal, Sweden’s public broadcaster Radio Ekot reports.

“The entire idea is that homosexuality is an illness which can and should be treated. That is, obviously, completely incorrect and a very out-of-place view in a modern society,” Centre’s spokesperson on legal issues, Johan Hedin, told the radio.

Conversion therapy consists of subjecting LGBT+ individuals to pressure or force to hide their sexuality or gender identity. According to MUCF, the Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil Society, it occurs “to a not insignificant extent” in Sweden.

“We think there should be a ban. Sweden should be a tolerant country, where nonsense like this quite simply shouldn’t be allowed to happen,” Johan Forssell, the Moderate’s legal spokesperson told Radio Ekot.

Swedish vocabulary: omvändelseterapi – conversion therapy

Swedish finance watchdog warns of possible ‘sharp fall’ in house prices

The Swedish financial supervisory authority warned this week that rising interest rates could hit households with large mortgages and lead to house prices falling “quite sharply”.

In the agency’s Swedish Mortgage Market 2022 Report, the authority, known in Swedish as Finansinspektionen (FI), reported that an increasing number of new borrowers had taken out large mortgages in relation to their income.

“Households with high debt ratios are particularly sensitive to rising interest rates, said Henrik Braconier, the authority’s chief economist.

As interest rates rise, FI also warned that house prices might fall.

“Now we can have a shift in the underlying factors that could affect housing prices downwards, potentially quite sharply downwards,” Erik Thedéen, the authority’s director-general, said at a press conference.

Here is The Local’s full article on the possible house price fall, as well as our explainer on the likelihood this will actually happen.

Swedish vocabulary: bostadspriser – house prices

Unemployment increasing amongst academics

For the first time since last year, the number of unemployed academics is increasing in Sweden, even though the increase is small.

In March, there was a net increase of 194 unemployed academics joining Akademikernas a-kassa, Sweden’s unemployment fund for people holding a university degree. This is the first time since July 2021 that this number has increased.

“We can’t comment yet on why we have an increase in unemployed members now and if it’s something which is going to continue,” said Alexandra Oljans Ahlin, communications officer at Akademikernas a-kassa, said in a press statement.

“But we have noticed from the questions we are getting from our members that there is some concern about the economic situation”.

In March 1,569 unemployed academics started working, the lowest number in two years.

However, there is positive news. Long-term unemployment among academics continues to decrease and since summer last year it has decreased by ten percent, according to Akademikernas a-kassa. However, the number of long-term unemployed is still around 50 percent higher than it was before the pandemic.

“Many are having a very hard time getting back into the labour market, and there are still a noticeably higher amount who have been unemployed for a longer period now than before the pandemic,” Ahlin said.

In total, 13,200 academics were unemployed in March, which represents 1.8 percent of Sweden’s academics. One year ago, 2.3 percent of academics were unemployed.

Swedish vocabulary: arbetslösheten – unemployment

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

Magdalena Andersson in the US, property prices drop and Turkey's Nato objections. Here's Sweden's news on Thursday.

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

Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson to visit US President Biden

Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson is in Washington today alongside Finland’s president Sauli Niinistö. The two will visit US President Joe Biden to discuss the war in Ukraine and Turkey’s opposition to their Nato applications, which were handed in yesterday.

“The meeting is an important security policy signal,” Andersson wrote on her Instagram account from Washington DC.

The two Nordic leaders boarded the flight to Washington DC shortly after their Nato ambassadors applied to join the alliance.

At the meeting in the White House today, the delicate security situation in both Finland and Sweden will be discussed. A number of countries, including the USA, have stated that they will support Sweden and Finland in the period before their Nato applications are approved by all member states in the alliance.

A final approval could take up to a year, and Russia is expected to react to the two countries joining Nato in some way.

Sweden and Finland’s decision to join the Nato alliance was applauded by Ukrainians taking part in a demonstration outside the White House.

Swedish vocabulary: stöd – support

Property prices plummet after central bank increases inflation rate

Property prices have dropped after the Swedish central bank increased inflation rates.

At the same time, the amount of apartments on property website Hemnet has increased to a record level, as sellers seek to get their property on the market quickly.

Valueguard’s price index, which measures changes in prices, sank by 1.7 percent in the two first weeks of May in the Stockholm region. In Gothenburg, prices decreased by 1.3 when compared with April.

This is the first property price measurement in May since the central bank decided to increase key index rates by 0.25 percent while also sharply raising their interest rate forecast.

Having said that, there was also a decrease in property prices in April – 0.3 percent for apartments and 0.5 percent for houses.

Swedish vocabulary: en nedgång – a decrease

Turkish president Erdogan urges Nato to ‘respect’ concerns over Sweden joining

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has threatened to block Finland and Sweden from joining Nato, urged the alliance’s members on Wednesday to “respect” Ankara’s concerns about the two countries, which Turkey accuses of harbouring terrorists.

“Our only expectation from Nato allies is… to first understand our sensitivity, respect and finally support it,” Erdogan told his party’s legislators in parliament.

Finland and Sweden submitted a joint application to join Nato on Wednesday May 18th as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine forces a dramatic reappraisal of security in Europe.

Erdogan accused Stockholm of providing safe haven to members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) designated as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.

“We asked them to extradite 30 terrorists but they refused to do so,” he said.

“You will not send back the terrorists to us and then ask our support for your Nato membership … We cannot say ‘yes’ to make this security organisation being lacking in security,” he added.

Swedish vocab: terrorister – terrorists