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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

Explosion in Solna, deadly shooting record broken and autumnal equinox. Here's Sweden's news on Friday.

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

Apartments evacuated after explosion in Solna

A major explosion occured in Huvudsta in Solna, just north of Stockholm, late on Thursday night. Residents of the affected apartment block have been evacuated.

No one has been arrested after the incident which is being investigated as grov allmänfarlig ödeläggelse (grave devastation endangering the public).

The explosion occured in or next to an apartment block, damaging the stairwell and some windows, police press spokesperson Daniel Wikdahl told newswire TT.

The blast was heard over large parts of Solna and in some areas of Stockholm. Rescue services were still on-site early on Friday morning, but residents were not yet able to access their apartments.

There are no known injuries and police are unsure as to whether the explosion was targeting a specific apartment or whether it is related to gang violence.

Swedish vocabulary: flerfamiljshus – apartment block (literally, “multiple family house”)

Autumnal equinox arrives: ‘Days the same length worldwide’

The autumnal equinox – the time between the summer and winter solstice where day and night are the same length worldwide – took place this morning at 03:03am.

From now on, the nights will be longer than days in Sweden.

“Darkness is drawing in and it might be time to get your cosy lighting out,” SVT’s meteorologist Marcus Sjöstedt told the public broadcaster.

The onset of autumn can also be seen in the weather, where Sjöstedt predicts more cloudy skies this weekend with some rain showers.

“Next week we can expect some more unstable weather with rain and clouds at times. High pressure is conspicuously absent, as is the warmth,” he said.

Despite the weather, Sjöstedt is still positive.

“It’s quite nice that the days are equally as long across the whole world. That still gives you a certain feeling of solidarity.”

Swedish vocabulary: höstdagjämningen – autumnal equinox. (Bonus vocabulary: mysbelysning – cosy lighting)

Sweden breaks yearly record for deadly shootings

A man in his twenties was shot to death in Kristianstad, Skåne, late on Thursday night.

He is the 48th person to be shot dead in Sweden this year, meaning that the previous record set in 2020 has been overtaken, despite it only being September.

The alarm was raised at 11pm om Thursday, where police were informed of a shooting in the north of the city.

“Then there were a number of calls concerning gunfire, but also about an injured person on Göingegatan,” Evelina Olsson, police press spokesperson in the southern police district, told TT during the night.

He was transferred to hospital in an ambulance but his life could not be saved.

“We know who he is now and his family has been notified,” duty officer Mikael Lind told TT. “We can’t say more than that he is in his twenties and that we currently have no suspects.”

Kristianstad has been affected by multiple shootings – as recently as this weekend, a man in his 30s was found with bullet injuries in the same area of the city.

Swedish vocabulary: skjutningar – shootings

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