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

No SFI for Ukrainians, interest rate hike, former defence minister calls for lobbyists register, and school minister open to some free school reforms: find out what's going on in Sweden with The Local's roundup.

Today in Sweden: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday
Ukrainian refugee Alexander Bashyn and Marcus Ahlqvist outside a meeting place for Ukrainians in Hässleholm. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Sweden’s new government will not offer SFI to Ukrainians

Sweden’s new government has told Swedish state broadcaster SR that it does not intend to extend Sweden for Immigrants courses to Ukrainian refugees to better help them find work and settle in the country. 

Instead the government intends to invest money in “Swedish from day one”, a voluntary education scheme which will be held in folkhögskolor, Sweden’s system of specialist education colleges, and in adult education centres run by various organisations. 

“The most important thing is that there is a right to learn Swedish. But exactly what form that should take is up for discussion,” said Sweden’s education minister Mats Persson. 

Swedish vocab: en rätt – a right

Sweden’s central bank chief to make final interest rate move

Stefan Ingves, the head of Sweden’s Riksbank, is today likely to announce yet another hike in interest rates in his final big decision in the role. 

After 17 years in the job, Ingves is due to stand down in the New Year, but not before announcing what the market expects will be a 75 point hike in the core interest rate, bringing it to 2.5 percent. Some suspect he may even go for a second 100 point rise as the bank pushes to get inflation under control. 

Ingves will be replaced by Erik Thedéen, the current head of Sweden’s Financial Supervisory Authority. 

Swedish vocab: en räntesmäll – an interest rate explosion

Former defence minister Peter Hultqvist calls for lobbyists to register

Former defence minister Peter Hultqvist has proposed a bill to parliament which will see lobbyists and PR companies have to register and declare their interests before they are allowed to meet MPs, government and public officials. 

Hultqvist said that when Sweden had been tendering for a new Patriot air defence system, the activities of lobbyists had seriously complicated the process. 

“I’ve experienced this myself,” he said. “We had a long line of lobbyists and PR agencies who tried to influence the process at various levels. It was partly about the relationship with the parliament, partly to the department, but there were also attempts to influence officials at the Swedish Defence Materials Administration.” 

He said that if Sweden had rules like in the US, it would improve the system and be “fully reasonable”. 

Swedish vocab: att påverka – to influence 

Sweden’s school minister open to tougher rules for free schools 

Swedens’ schools minister Lotta Edholm, has said that it might be right to provide lower amounts of money per pupil to free schools than to municipal schools, and agreed that some schools have sent state money out of the country. 

A government inquiry launched by the former Social Democrat government is likely to propose new laws limiting how money given to free schools can be used.

“We have never said that there is a problem with paying out profits [to shareholders] if you are fulfilling the quality requirements. The big problem is when pupils don’t get the education they have a right to,” she said. 

Swedish vocab: undervisning – education  

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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

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