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TODAY IN SWEDEN

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

Brits get vote for life, no Nato referendum and a possible shortage test for work permits. Here's a rundown of the news on Friday.

Today in Sweden: A roundup of the latest news on Friday
Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson has spoken out against a possible Nato referendum. Photo: Paul Wennerholm/TT

Referendum on Nato ‘a bad idea’, Andersson says

Sweden’s prime minister Magdalena Andersson came out against holding a referendum on Nato on Thursday afternoon, following calls from the Left Party leader Nooshi Dadgostar to put the decision to a public vote.

“I think it’s a bad idea, for several reasons. It’s a question which isn’t suitable for a referendum, in my opinion,” she said in a press conference.

She explained her decision by saying that the question involves classified information which can’t be debated openly, as well as information to do with national security.

“There are important questions in such a referendum which can’t be discussed. Important facts which can’t be laid out on the table,” she said.

Andersson also criticised Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson’s requirement that the government should seek parliamentary support for a Nato application.

She underlined that parliamentary parties are discussing security policy in an analysis group, with a report to be presented in two weeks.

“We’re working to find consensus in this situation. I can only regret to say that Ulf Kristersson, again and again, seems to seek conflict on these issues,” she said.

Swedish vocabularysekretessbelagd – classified

British citizens in Europe finally get right to vote for life

British citizens living abroad will no longer lose their right to vote in UK elections if they have been abroad for over 15 years, after a long-term government pledge finally became law. Here’s what we know about the new rules.

The UK government’s Elections Bill finally passed through the House of Lords in the British parliament on Wednesday night. Part two of the bill was hugely important for British citizens living abroad because it restored their right to vote in UK General Elections, no matter how long they have lived abroad.

Previously the so-called ’15-year rule’ meant Britons who had been out of the country for more than 15 years lost the right to vote back home. This rule effectively barred tens of thousands of Britons abroad from voting in the 2016 EU referendum, despite the fact the result had a direct impact on their lives.

It is believed the bill now extends voting rights to some 3.5 million British nationals living around the world, over one million of those living in Europe.

The move marks a victory for those Britons who have long campaigned against the 15-year rule, none more so than 100-year-old Harry Schindler, a British citizen living in Italy who began the campaign many years ago.

See the full article on the changes here.

Swedish vocabulary: rösträtt – right to vote

Swedish government announces plans to bring back shortage test for work permits

“We need order in the Swedish labour market,” Anders Ygeman, Sweden’s migration minister, said, announcing plans to bring back a labour shortage test for work permits at a press conference on Thursday. “Sweden should not compete with low wages and bad working conditions”.

The government now wants to introduce so-called arbetsmarknadsprövning, a system scrapped in 2008 where prospective labour migrants wanting to work in Sweden will only have their work permits approved if they are filling a position where there is a national shortage.

The change comes on top of new tighter rules due to come in on June 1st, which will require work permit applicants to have a job contract before a permit can be granted. 

If arbetsmarknadsprövning is brought back, the availability of work permits will be dependent on unions, employers, and other authorities confirming that they lack staff in the profession in question.

The government has not yet submitted a proposal to reintroduce the law, rather they are in the process of initiating an investigation into how possible legislation could be formulated. This investigation is expected to launch by this summer, after which it will run for at least a year, meaning that any change in legislation is unlikely to happen before the latter half of 2023.

Swedish vocabulary: arbetsmarknad – labour market

Swedish central bank raises inflation for first time since 2014

Sweden’s Riksbank has increased its key interest rate to 0.25 percent, marking the first time the rate has been above zero for nearly eight years.

In a press release announcing the move, the bank said that it needed to take action to bring down the current high rate of inflation, which it predicts will average 5.5 percent in 2022, before sinking to 3.3 percent in 2023.

“Inflation has risen to the highest level since the 1990s and is going to stay high for a while. To prevent high inflation taking hold in price and wage developments, the directors have decided to raise interest rates from zero to 0.25 percent,” it said. 

The Riksbank, which is tasked by the government to keep inflation at around two percent, has been caught off-guard by the speed and duration of price rises.

Just a few months ago, in February, it said it expected inflation to be temporary, predicting there was no need to increase rates until 2024.

The last time the key inflation rate was above zero was in the autumn of 2014. 

Swedish vocabulary: styrränta – key inflation rate

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TODAY IN SWEDEN

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

Nato, Nato, and more Nato: Find out what's going on in Sweden with The Local's roundup.

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

Sweden’s defence minister: Nato decision to be taken today

Sweden’s government will meet later on Monday to take the historical decision to join Nato, the country’s defence minister Peter Hultqvist, has told state broadcaster SVT. 

“I can’t say exactly when the application will be sent in, but the decision is going to be taken today,” he said. 

Turkey have voiced their opposition to Sweden and Finland joining the alliance.

Hultqvist said that Sweden was sending a group of civil servants to discuss Turkey’s objections to Swedish Nato membership — something Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Sunday would not prevent Sweden joining the alliance. 

“We are going to a send a group of civil servants who are going to carry out a discussion and have a dialogue with Turkey, so then we’ll see how the issue can be solved and what the discussion is actually about. But the signals we’ve had from Nato are that there’s unanimity that both Sweden and Finland should join.” 

Swedish Vocab: avgör – to decide 

Sweden’s ruling Social Democratic Party backs Nato bid

Sweden’s ruling Social Democratic Party on Sunday said it was in favour of joining Nato, reversing its decades-long opposition and paving the way for the country to submit a membership application.

The turnaround comes amid soaring political and public support in Sweden for joining the Western military alliance after Russia’s February 24th invasion of Ukraine.

The issue has divided Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson’s Social Democrats, with some party members expressing concern that the decision was being rushed through.

The party said on Sunday that if Sweden’s application were approved, it would work to express “unilateral reservations against the deployment of nuclear weapons and permanent bases on Swedish territory.”

Swedish vocab: att vara orolig – to be worried/concerned

Finland confirms it will apply to join Nato as Sweden set to follow

Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö confirmed on Sunday that his country would apply for Nato membership as Sweden’s ruling party was to hold a decisive meeting that could pave the way for a joint application.

The announcement came after Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Thursday they both favoured Nato membership, in a major policy shift prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Today, we, the president and the government’s foreign policy committee, have together decided that Finland … will apply for Nato membership,” Finnish President Sauli Niinistö said at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Sanna Marin in Helsinki on Sunday.

“I have great feelings, of course, this is an historic day. It started in the morning when I visited the memorial service to honour Finland’s fallen heroes”, Niinistö told reporters.

Niinistö said that the decision will secure Finland’s security policy and that it “does not disadvantage anyone”.

Sweden’s foreign minister Ann Linde said the decision would have “great significance” for Sweden.

Swedish vocab: betydelse – significance 

US in support of Sweden and Finland joining Nato

The State Department’s top diplomat for Europe, Karen Donfried, and President Joe Biden have reiterated US support for Sweden and Finland joining Nato, ahead of a meeting between Alliance foreign ministers in Berlin on Saturday.

In a phone call on Friday morning with Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, US President Joe Biden reiterated support for Nato’s open-door policy, the White House said. He had also stressed that Sweden and Finland had the right to decide their own future.

Donfried said on Friday: “The United States would support Finland or Sweden joining Nato should they choose to do so.” A formal membership application by the two countries would be “further evidence of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strategic miscalculation,” she said.

Finland and Sweden are “valued Nato partners” and “thriving democracies,” Donfried said. Referring to remarks by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the top diplomat said Turkey’s position must now be clarified. 

Swedish vocab: att stödja – to support 

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