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TODAY IN SWEDEN

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

Parties call for compulsory pre-schools, insulating homes, and state paying energy costs, plus Biden signs Nato bid: find out what's going on in Sweden with The Local's roundup.

Today in Sweden: A roundup of the latest news on Wednesday
The Liberal Party's leader Johan Pehrson presented the party's election manifesto on Tuesday. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg / TT

US President Biden signs ratification of Finnish and Swedish Nato bids

President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed US ratification of bids by Finland and Sweden to enter Nato, taking expansion of the Western alliance in response to Russia’s Ukraine invasion one step closer.

Biden said the two northern European countries would become “strong, reliable highly capable new allies” by making the “sacred commitment” to
mutual defense in the US-led transatlantic alliance. 

Earlier this month, the Senate voted 95-1 in favor of the Nordic states’ accession, making the United States the 23rd of the 30 Nato countries to give formal endorsement. Unanimous support is needed for new membership.

Biden, who has made restoring traditional US alliances a cornerstone of his administration after Donald Trump’s move to upend ties around the world,
praised Nato as “the foundation of American security.”

“The United States is committed to the transatlantic alliance.”

Biden also praised Finland and Sweden, saying both have “strong democratic institutions, strong militaries and strong and transparent economies” that would now bolster Nato.

Swedish vocab: att undertecka – to sign 

Liberal party calls for compulsory kindergarten for toddlers with poor Swedish

The Liberal Party has called for children between the ages of two and five who are considered to have a low level of Swedish to be forced to attend pre-school or dagis, as the party announced its election manifesto on Tuesday. 

Liberal leader Johan Pehrson said that all children who do not already attend pre-schools would be required to have their language ability assessed by their local primary health centre, and then be sent to special “language pre-schools” to speed up language development, if they have poor Swedish.

In the manifesto, the party reiterated its calls for 1,000 new special teachers, better conditions for teachers, and more order in the classroom. 

Swedish vocab: en plikt – a duty 

Green Party: government should pay to insulate homes 

Sweden’s green party is proposing that Sweden’s government pay 80 percent of the costs of installing air or groundwater heat pumps, and improving ventilation and isolation in people’s homes, as a way of reducing their energy costs this coming winter. 

“The long-term solution for keeping down energy costs is for the state to help households reduce energy use now as much as possible,” he said. “If you succeed in putting in place these measures, then they won’t only have an impact this winter but in many future winters to come.” 

Swedish vocab: åtgärder – measures 

Sweden’s Moderates call for state to foot private energy bills

The opposition Moderate Party has proposed that the government contribute towards households’ electricity bills this winter, as electricity prices are expected to rise.

The party is proposing a system of “high-cost protection” or högkostnadsskydd similar to that found in Norway, where the state will commit to covering a percentage of all costs over a certain figure.

It is not yet clear how the system would work, but the Moderates’ finance spokesperson, Elisabeth Svantesson, said it the government should set a price threshold, above which the government would shoulder the majority of any extra cost.

“You could expect the state to pay for 75 percent of the cost of everything over one krona per kilowatt hour,” she suggested, adding that a one krona threshold would cut around 6,000 kronor off the energy bill of an average family in Norrland.

“We can’t completely protect the consumer, but we can make it easier,” she said. “No one should be forced to leave their home this winter because of an electricity bill.”

Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson is open to the suggestion, stating that her party would “study the proposal very carefully”.

Swedish vocab: högkostnadsskydd – high cost protection 

Swedish PM: Moderate Party’s property tax warnings ‘completely absurd’

In a long interview broadcast on Swedish state radio broadcaster SR, Andersson stressed that her party had no plans to bring back the property tax abolished by the Moderate-led government back in 2008.

“We are not going to campaign on the back of a property tax, have no plans to do it, and have shown over the last eight years that we are not doing it,” she said. “It is completely absurd that the Moderates are running their campaign about this for the third or fourth time in a row. They were cranking this out in 2014, 2018 and now in 2022, and we have not brought back the property tax.”

When pushed by the interviewer, however, Andersson refused to absolutely rule out making any changes to Sweden’s system of property taxation.

“If I start to draw red lines, I will risk creating an even more locked situation after the election,” she said. “But there’s no question over what I believe. If you don’t want to bring back property tax, you should vote for the Social Democrats.”

The Swedish Trade Union Confederation LO, is in favour of bringing back the property tax, which it describes as “one of the best taxes”, as is the Left Party.

Swedish vocab: att lova – to promise

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TODAY IN SWEDEN

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

Russian tourist ban, pandemic slashed consumption emissions, and bomb shelters 'functional': find out what's going on in Sweden with The Local's roundup.

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

Majority in Swedish parliament wants to ban Russian tourists

Parties representing a majority of MPs in Sweden’s parliament want to follow Finland’s example and ban Russian tourists, according to commercial broadcaster TV4. 

At midnight on Thursday, Finland closed its borders completely for Russian citizens with tourist visas, and now five out of eight parties in the Swedish parliament want to take the same decision. 

Only the Moderates and the Social Democrats, who together hold 170 of the parliament’s seats are currently opposed to a halt to the issuing of tourist visas to Russian citizens. The Moderates want to wait for a common EU decision, while the Social Democrats want to leave the decision to the incoming government. 

So far this year, Sweden’s Migration Agency has taken in 2,300 applications from Russians seeking visas. 

Swedish vocab: ett totalstopp – an absolute halt 

Swedish per capita consumption-based emissions dropped by a tonne in pandemic

Sweden’s consumption-based emissions fell by 12 percent in 2020, compared to the preceding year, chiefly as a result of people stopping flying abroad for holidays and work, according to new data from Statistics Sweden.

“The biggest reduction happened within household transport, which fell by 23 percent. That can be explained by a reduction in flights and personal transport as a result of the pandemic,” said Nils Brown, an investigator for the agency, in a statement. 

Consumption-based emissions also fell for housing, clothes and shoes, but were unchanged for food and groceries. 

Swedish vocab: växthusgaser – greenhouse gases

Swedish bomb shelters ‘in functional condition’: Civil Contingencies Agency

After carrying out thousands of checks this year, Sweden’s Civil Contingencies Agency has concluded that most of the bomb shelters in Sweden are in a ‘functional condition’, with most having only minor shortcomings which can be easily righted. 

“We have done a few thousand inspections on our own initiative, but we have also seen that property owners have themselves done many inspections of their own bomb shelters, with the help of specialists,” Lars Gråbergs, from the agency, told TT newswire.

The government in May 2021 ordered the agency to assess the capacity and condition of Sweden’s bomb shelters, and how evacuation and housing would be handled in the event of a military attack. The agency is due to report on November 7th.

Swedish vocab: vid väpnat angrepp – in the event of an armed/military attack

Swedish retailer H&M sees profits slump after Russia exit

Swedish fashion retailer H&M reported a sizeable drop in third-quarter profit on Thursday following its decision to leave the Russian market.

The world’s number two clothing group is among a slew of Western companies that have exited Russia following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

H&M paused all sales in the country in March and announced in July that it would wind down operations, although it would reopen stores for “a limited period of time” to offload its remaining inventory.

The company said Thursday its net profit fell to 531 million kronor ($47 million) in the third quarter, down 89 percent from the same period last year. “The third quarter has largely been impacted by our decision to pause sales and then wind down the business in Russia,” chief executive Helena Helmersson said in a statement.

Swedish vocab: en avveckling – a wind down

Sweden detects fourth leak at Nord Stream pipelines in Baltic Sea

A fourth leak has been detected in undersea pipelines running from Russia to Europe, the Swedish Coast Guard said on Thursday, after pipeline explosions were detected earlier this week in the Danish and Swedish economic zones, in suspected sabotage.

“There are two leaks on the Swedish side and two leaks on the Danish side,” a Swedish Coast Guard official said, after three leaks were confirmed earlier this week on the Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea.

The official added that the two leaks on the Swedish side are “close to each other”.

The Swedish coast guard could not immediately say why the latest leak only appeared days after the initial breaches.

Media reported that the latest leak was detected at the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, but the coast guard did not confirm this.

Sweden had previously reported a leak on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline northeast of Bornholm, while Denmark has confirmed a leak on Nord Stream 2 to the southeast of the island, and another to the northeast above Nord Stream 1.

Swedish vocab: Kustbevakningen – the Swedish Coast Guard

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