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TODAY IN SWEDEN

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

Plan to slash peak power demand, Löfven to lead EU socialists, and right-wing bloc agreed on stricter migration: find out what's going on in Sweden with The Local's roundup.

Today in Sweden: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday
Former prime minister Stefan Löfven in conversation with Magdalena Andersson at the Almedalen political festival in July. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Sweden’s parties united on plan to slash peak power consumption by 5-10 percent

Sweden’s Social Democrat caretaker government has agreed with the incoming Moderate-led government that the country should take action to cut power consumption at peak times by between 5-10 percent, something outgoing energy minister Khashayar Farmanbar says could “at least halve power prices” if successfully done across the European Union. 

“We stand behind the ambition to reduce consumption,” said Carl-Oskar Bohlin, the Moderate Party’s power spokesperson, after a meeting on Wednesday of the parliament’s Committee on Industry and Trade. “Then there are questions of how that should happen practically in real terms. In Sweden, electricity use is largely dependent on the outside temperature. If we have a mild winter, it will be extremely easy to hit the 5 percent target, if we have a really harsh winter, it might be impossible.”

Swedish vocab: en sträng vinter – a harsh winter

Former PM Stefan Löfven in line to lead Social Democrats in the EU

Sweden’s former prime minister is in line to lead the Party of European Socialists, the umbrella party for Social Democrats in the European Union, after the party’s current chair, Sergej Stanisjev, from Bulgaria, stood down.

“Stefan was the force behind the Gothenburg Social Summit which proclaimed the European Pillar of Social Rights: the landmark step forward for a Social Europe,” Stanisjev said in a press message. “I know he will bring this same leadership and vision to the historic challenges Europe faces today.”

Löfven is the sole candidate for the post, and will likely be voted in at the party’s congress in Berlin on October 14th and 15th. 

Swedish vocab: den europeiska pelaren – the European Pillar

Sweden’s right-wing bloc ‘agreed on stricter migration policy’: report

The four parties backing Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson to become Sweden’s next Prime Minister have already agreed on stricter migration and crime policies, a source has told the Aftonbladet newspaper.

According to the source, who the paper said “had insight into the negotiations to form a new government”, the four parties have also reached agreement on who should be voted in as Speaker of the country’s Riksdag parliament when the role goes up for a vote on Monday.

“We are counting on all parties sticking to [the agreed] line,” the source told the newspaper. “Everything is being negotiated as one comprehensive solution, as a packet, and the role of Speaker is part of that whole.”

“We have agreed that we should have a stricter migration policy, and we have also agreed on having longer prison sentences for criminals,” the source added.

The talks between Kristersson’s Moderate Party, the Sweden Democrats, the Christian Democrats, and the Liberal Party have been continuing for ten days, with most of the negotiations taking place at the Moderate Party’s premises, and precautions taken so that as little as possible leaks from the discussions.

Swedish Vocab: regeringsförhandlingarna – the government negotiations 

Sweden’s union federation warns of increased layoffs after rate hike

The Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO) has warned that the Riksbank’s decision to hike its key interest rate on Tuesday risks increasing the number of people being laid off by companies.

Laura Hartman, the chief economist at LO, said that the union was already seeing the number of people being laid off by their employers increase as Sweden’s economy started to enter a slow-down.

“Unfortunately, it’s looking pretty grim and it’s not been made any better by the interest rate decision,” she said. “We are on the way into an economic slowdown, and the Swedish Public Employment Service has also said that we are on the way into a period of higher unemployment.”

She said that the unions that are part of her confederation had already started reporting members losing their jobs.

“We are seeing that redundancies are beginning to climb upwards. That’s the signal we’re getting from our unions. This is to do with the downturn in the business cycle, which is getting worse. We don’t have any numbers for it, but our latest forecast for June had growth of 1-2 percent.”

Swedish vocab: varslen – redundancies

Sweden’s new immigrant party gets first elected positions

Sweden’s new immigrant party, Nyans, has won council seats in the port city of Landskrona and the Stockholm suburb of Botkyrka, the first elected positions it has won since it was founded in 2019.

Ever since the September 11th election, it has been touch and go whether the party would make it over the two percent threshold to enter the council in the Landskrona, but after the vote count was finally complete on Wednesday morning, the party had gained its first council seat.

The party also won 2.03 percent of the votes in Botkyrka, a tiny margin over the 2 percent threshold. The party’s leader Mikail Yüksel has retroactively registered himself as living in the municipality so that he can claim the seat. 

“It feels super exciting to get the chance to affect and experience how political work takes place on the city council,” the party’s lead candidate in Landskrona, Sead Busuladzic, told Sweden’s public broadcaster SVT.

“You don’t get that much influence with only one mandate, but we want to raise the importance of issues around integration and segregation, and around creating more meeting places where people’s prejudices can be challenged. Too many people live in their own bubbles and don’t meet one another.”

Landskrona was also the city where the far-right Sweden Democrats first broke through in a big way, back in 2006, winning 22 percent of the votes in the municipal election and gaining eight seats on the local council.

Although Nyans (which translates as “nuance” in English) is open to people of all faiths and backgrounds on paper, it particularly seeks to appeal to and represent Muslim immigrants and has called for Muslims to be declared an official minority in the country.

Swedish vocab: den slutliga rösträkningen – the final vote count

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TODAY IN SWEDEN

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

Hungary to approve Sweden's Nato bid, Björn Söder wants king to nominate PM, Central Bank rate hike, King's mysterious death solved and ice hockey legend dead: Here's Sweden's news on Friday.

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

Hungary to approve Finland and Sweden Nato accession next year: PM

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Thursday that parliament would approve Finland and Sweden’s accession to Nato next year, with only Budapest and Ankara left to green-light their application.

“As we have already informed Sweden and Finland, Hungary supports the Nato membership of these two countries. It will be on the agenda of the first session of parliament” next year, Orban told reporters after meeting regional counterparts in Slovakia.

The first session of parliament next year is scheduled to begin in February. All 30 Nato member states except Hungary and Turkey have ratified the accession of Sweden and Finland, which dropped decades of military non-alignment with bids to join Nato after Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

New members to the Nato alliance require unanimous approval. Hungary’s ruling party has repeatedly rejected scheduling a vote in parliament on the issue though the government insists it backs the two Nordic nation’s accession to Nato.

Earlier this month, Orban’s chief of staff, Gergely Gulyas, said Hungary had to pass anti-corruption reforms, closely watched by Brussels, before parliament could turn to the Nato issue.

EU member Hungary is in talks with Brussels to unlock billions of euros in EU funding currently held over corruption concerns. The Hungarian opposition has accused Orban’s party of dragging its feet by refusing to put the issue on parliament’s agenda for a vote.

The Socialist Party has called it “incomprehensible and unjustified”, while the Momentum party has accused the government of “blackmailing” the European Union.

Swedish vocab: Ungern – Hungary

Sweden Democrat: ‘King should nominate prime minister’

The King, in his role as head of state, should be responsible for nominating the next prime minister, Sweden Democrat MP Björn Söder argues in a motion he has submitted to parliament.

Currently, the speaker nominates the prime minister. Söder argues that after the election in 2018, the speaker became more involved in political maneouvring than previously.

“There is therefore a strong argument for adopting measures to separate the speaker role from the pure political games around the speaker role so it doesn’t continue to be an object of political strategy and dirty games,” Söder wrote.

“The fact that Sweden differs from other parliamentary democracies is due to a compromise struck between the Social Democrats and the liberal parties in 1971, the so-called Torekov’s Compromise,” he wrote.

Söder has proposed this multiple times without success.

Swedish vocab: statschef – head of state

Sweden’s central bank hikes key rate to highest level in 14 years

Sweden’s Riksbank central bank announced a further 75 point increase in the core interest rate on Thursday, in what it likely to be the last interest rate decision by outgoing governor Stefan Ingves.

While the 75 point hike was expected by the market, the bank signalled that it now expected rates to peak at 2.8 percent next year, up from 2.5 percent in it previous forecast. 

“Inflation is too high and it’s creating problems for many, many households and many, many others,” Ingves said at a press conference after the announcement. 

“Our judgement right now is that the core rate is going to need to be hiked again at the beginning of next year and will end up somewhere around 3 percent. This unusually high inflation that we’ve had demands unusually big increases in the core rate.” 

Thursday’s rate announcement follows the 100-point rise in interest rates announced at the end of September, the biggest single increase the central bank had made in 30 years. 

It means the country’s core interest rate will have risen from zero to 2.5 percent in less than a year.  

“The prognosis indicates that the core interest rate is probably going to be further increased at the start of next year to just under 3 percent,” the bank wrote in a press release. “The Riksbank is going to adapt monetary policy to whatever is required to make sure that inflation returns to the target level within a reasonable period.” 

Swedish vocab: styrränta – key interest rate

Researchers clear up Swedish King’s mysterious death from 1718

King Charles XII was shot to death over 300 years ago in a battle in Norway. Ever since, debate has raged as to whether he was hit by an enemy bullet or assassinated by an ally. Now, two Finnish researchers claim to have solved the mystery once and for all.

On a foggy November evening in 1718, Charles XII was killed during a siege in Norwegian Fredrikshald, now Halden. Ever since, his death has been shrouded in mystery.

The Swedish warrior king died from a bullet to the head, but there has been a great deal of speculation over the years as to whether the bullet was fired from an enemy weapon or a Swedish soldier tired of battle.

Now, researchers from Uleåborg University in Finland claim that they have solved the riddle by test-firing different kinds of ammunition, according to a study published in the PNAS Nexus scientific journal. According to Finnish researchers, Charles XII was killed by an iron bullet with a diameter of over 20 millimetres, and based on the bullet hole left in his skull, the bullet was probably travelling at a speed of around 200 metres a second.tt

This proves, the researchers claim, that the bullet came from the enemy fortress around 200 metres away from where the King died – and not from one of his own soldiers.

Swedish vocab: krigarkungen – warrior king

Swedish ice hockey legend Börje Salming dies at 71

Börje Salming, Swedish ice hockey legend and former player for the Toronto Maple Leafs died on Thursday aged 71, the team said in a statement.

Salming was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, in April which he had revealed in August.

After making his name in Sweden, Salming was signed by the Maple Leafs after they watched him play in exhibition games against Canadian junior teams.

He made his NHL debut in the 1973-74 season and quickly won respect for adapting to the more physical style of North American hockey.

He became the first European born and trained player to appear in 1,000 NHL games in 1988 and the following year, after 16 years with the Maple Leafs, moved to the Detroit Red Wings for what would be his final season.

“A superior all-around defenseman and the first Swedish star ever to play in the League, Börje Salming was as physically and mentally tough as he was skillfully gifted,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told the league’s website.

“He blazed the trail that many of the greatest players in NHL history followed while shattering all of the stereotypes about European players that had been prevalent in a League populated almost entirely by North Americans before his arrival in 1973.”

Salming was part of the Sweden team that were runners-up in the 1973 World Championships in the Soviet Union, a year after they finished third in the same competition in Prague. He was also a member of the Sweden team that finished fifth in the 1992 Winter Olympics.

Swedish vocab: ishockey (or even just hockey) – ice hockey

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