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

The Prime Minister's wife has got a new job, Swedish pensioners struggle with rising food prices, and gonorrhea infections are on the increase. Here's the latest news in Sweden.

Today in Sweden: A roundup of the latest news on Monday
Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson congratulates his wife, newly-ordained priest Birgitta Kristersson Ed. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Swedish consulate sign calls Paludan an ‘idiot’

Around 250 people demonstrated outside the Swedish Consulate in Istanbul after far-right extremist Rasmus Paludan burned a copy of the Koran in front of Turkey’s embassy in Stockholm.

The AP news agency reports that a sign on a window of the Swedish Consulate read: “We do not share that book-burning idiot’s view.”

It is not clear who wrote the sign, and the Swedish foreign ministry when approached by Swedish news agency TT declined to comment. Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson on Saturday also condemned Paludan’s act, albeit in more formal language.

Swedish vocabulary: a sign – en skylt

Swedish PM’s wife becomes a priest

Birgitta Ed, the wife of the Swedish prime minister, was ordained a priest at Strängnäs Cathedral on Sunday.

Her husband Ulf Kristersson, as well as Justice Minister Gunnar Strömmer and former Moderate leader Carl Bildt were among the guests present, reports TT.

Ed spent 25 years as a successful PR consultant, but decided to change her career in 2017. She holds a master’s degree in theology.

Unlike the Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church of Sweden has allowed female priests since 1958. In 2020 the number of female priests outnumbered their male counterparts.

Swedish vocabulary: ordained – prästvigd

Gonorrhea infections increase in post-pandemic Sweden

Gonorrhea infections increased in several regions across Sweden in 2022, reports TT.

In Skåne, southern Sweden, the number of infections increased 76 percent compared to 2021, with the majority of infections caused by heterosexual relations. The region says the increase cannot only be explained by the end of pandemic restrictions.

In Uppsala, central Sweden, the increase was 81 percent, rising the fastest among middle-aged men. This region links a lot of the new cases to increased travel after the pandemic, with the number of people getting infected abroad increasing by 300 percent.

Swedish vocabulary: an increase – en ökning

Swedish pensioners struggle amid rising food prices

Food prices have gone up 20 percent in the past year, according to an annual survey by Swedish pensioners’ organisation PRO. That’s in line with official calculations.

In PRO’s survey, which looked at the same items of food they looked at last year, the price of rapeseed oil went up by 45 percent and the price of Bregott (Sweden’s most popular brand of a mix of butter and margarine) went up by 42 percent.

“Many people contact us and are completely desperate. They say they go to the store but can’t afford to buy what they need. There are also some who get in touch and say that they can no longer afford to be part of PRO and go to PRO meetings, which for many are their only silver lining,” TT quotes PRO chair Åsa Lindestam as saying.

Swedish vocabulary: butter – smör

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

When will key interest rates drop, how large will your pay rise be this year, changes to residence permits for rejected asylum seekers and new Nato news. Here's Sweden's news on Friday.

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

SBAB bank predicts key interest rates will drop in November

A new interest rate prognosis from SBAB bank predicts that Sweden’s central bank will hike key interest rates substantially in April, but will be able to lower them again as early as November.

In the new report, state-owned SBAB bank believes that the central bank will raise key interest rates by 0.5 percentage points to a total of 3.5 percent.

Unlike many other banks, SBAB does not believe that the central bank will raise rates at the following meeting this summer, rather that rates will remain the same from April until November, after which they will drop by 0.25 percentage points to 3.25 percent.

“We believe that we will soon see underlying inflation and not least food prices dropping back,” chief economist Robert Boije told TT newswire.

It further predicts that the average interest rate on mortgages could hit a peak of 4.8 percent in the autumn, and that the drop in key interest rates in November will be the first of many, leading to a key interest rate of 2 percent by 2024.

Swedish vocabulary: styrränta – key interest rates, snittränta – average interest rate

Decision time for Swedish pay rises

At the end of this month, many salary agreements on the Swedish labour market will run out, meaning that unions and employers have been working hard throughout the winter to come to a new agreement.

Over the past 25 years, salary negotiations in industry have had knock-on effects for the rest of the labour market, with pay rises in the industrial sector setting the bar for how high pay rises will be across the board, which other branches usually follow.

The industrial unions and their corresponding employer groups have now had a first offer from the mediators, the so-called Impartial Chairmen (Opo). This afternoon, they are expected to answer, although the first answer is usually a ‘no’ from the unions, before a better offer is made within a week.

The unions have called for a 4.4 percent payrise in a one-year deal, with a higher bonus for those earning under 27,000 kronor a month, plus extra hikes on the lowest salaries. Employers have offered 2 percent plus a one-time 3,000 kronor bonus.

Historically, the final deal usually ends up at around three quarters of the original demands of the unions, which would be around 3.3 percent.ey are still supporting them.

Swedish vocabulary: facket – union, löneökningar – pay rises

Court ruling tightens residency rules for Sweden’s ‘high school law’

Rejected asylum seekers hoping to stay in Sweden under the so-called high school law will now have to have signed a job contract before their temporary residency runs out, following a court judgement.

The law, brought in by the former Social Democrat and Green Party coalition, was recently described as a “half-amnesty” by Mikael Ribbenvik, the outgoing head of the Migration Agency. 

Under the law, asylum seekers who have completed upper secondary school education can be given permanent residency if they show they can support themselves. 

Previously it was enough to be able to support yourself at the point when the Migration Agency handles your case. 

But after a judgment from the Migration Court of Appeal, the Migration Agency now believes that the applicant must have started their job before their temporary residency expires. 

Swedish vocabulary: gymnasielagen – high school law

Swedish PM to seek explanation from Hungary on Nato delay

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said on Thursday he would seek an explanation from Hungary about why it is delaying its parliament’s ratification of Sweden’s Nato bid but not Finland’s.

“I’m going to ask why they are now separating Sweden from Finland. These are signals we have not received before, so I’m absolutely going to raise this with (Hungarian prime minister Viktor) Orbán today,” Kristersson told public broadcaster Sveriges Radio.

Orbán and Kristersson both attended an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday.

Orbán’s ruling Fidesz party has said parliament will ratify Finland’s bid on March 27th, but “will decide on the case of Sweden later”.

On Thursday, Orbán’s chief-of-staff Gergely Gulyás told reporters there was “a serious chance” the Swedish bid would be ratified during the ongoing parliamentary session which runs until June 15.

Swedish vocabulary: Ungern – Hungary

Sweden Democrats threatens government crisis over biofuels obligation

The far-right Sweden Democrats are threatening to push Sweden’s three-party ruling coalition into a political crisis as they fail to reach agreement over how drastically to cut the country’s biofuels obligation, a key part in its plan to reduce emissions.

The party is claiming that a pledge in the Tidö Agreement calling for the biofuels obligation, or reduktionsplikt, to be cut to the “lowest EU level”, should mean that the amount of biofuels that must be blended into petrol and diesel and Sweden should be cut to close to zero, rather than to about half the current share, as suggested by ongoing EU negotiations. 

“We are being tough in the negotiations because of the power we have as the biggest party in this bloc,” Oscar Sjöstedt, the party’s finance spokesperson told TV4. “There is going to be a change at the end of the year that is going to be pretty significant and substantial, that I’m 99.9 percent certain about, otherwise we will have a government crisis.” 

The Liberal Party is pushing for a much less severe reduction, perhaps to a little more than half the current level, where 30.5 percent of all petrol and diesel must be biofuel. 

Swedish vocabulary: reduktionsplikt – biofuels obligation