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

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 20 Mar, 2023 Updated Mon 20 Mar 2023 06:37 CEST
Today in Sweden: a roundup of the latest news on Monday
Former Botkyrka mayor Ebba Östlin speaks to press after she was beaten to the role of Social Democrat leader. Photo: Fredrik Persson/TT

New 'Sweden course' for immigrants, Sweden's Nato chances 'not worsened', political chaos at an end in Botkyrka and much more. Here's some of the news on Monday.


Government wants to bring in 'Sverigekursen' civics course for immigrants 

Sweden's government has announced plans to bring in a new course on Swedish society called the Sverigekursen or "Sweden course", which the country's labour and integration minister Johan Pehrson has said would help people integrate in the country. 

"We believe this will be absolutely crucial for integration. If people are to have a chance in Sweden, then they need to understand how Sweden works," he told Sweden's public radio broadcaster SR. It was not immediately clear whether such a course would be compulsory for all immigrants, however based on similar policies from the government it is likely it would apply mainly to people moving to Sweden as refugees.

Bringing in a new course on Swedish society for immigrants arriving in the country was part of the Tidö Agreement between the far-Right Sweden Democrats and the three parties in the ruling coalition. That deal proposes that the course would only be compulsory in the sense that people who rely on benefits such as a daily allowance from the Migration Agency would not be able to get their allowance if they did not take part in the course. 

The government will soon launch an inquiry into how best to design the course. 

Swedish vocabulary: absolutely crucial – helt avgörande


Finnish President: 'Sweden's chances not affected by Finland joining Nato first' 

Finland's president Sauli Niinistö has argued on Sweden's main TV news programme that Sweden's chances of joining Nato have not been negatively affected by the decision of Finland to push ahead and get ratified by Turkey alone. 

"No, I don't see such a risk at all," Niinistö told the Agenda news programme. "Do you think we should have refused Turkey's ratification? That sounds a little crazy. It would have created an extremely difficult situation if we'd said 'no' to Ankara." 

Niinistö said that he believed the security of the two Nordic countries were not seriously affected, particularly given new plans for a direct military alliance agreement between Finland, Sweden, Denmark and the US. 

"I think that would be a big change, almost bigger than Nato membership, if we all have a pretty similar agreement directly with the US, I think that will mean a lot." 

Swedish vocabulary: security – säkerhet

Swedish Foreign Minister on Turkey’s ‘different yardsticks’

Turkey has been using different yardsticks when assessing how well Sweden and Finland have fulfilled the terms of the deal struck between the three countries last summer, Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström told Agenda.

Turkey demands that Sweden extradite people it considers terrorists before it is willing to ratify its Nato membership.

“It is pretty interesting that Finland has faced exactly the same type of demands throughout this process, and has as far as I know not extradited more people than Sweden has or has done anything differently to what Sweden has. They’ve also followed the memorandum. It is pretty interesting how Turkey has apparently been using different yardsticks,” Billström told Agenda.

Swedish vocabulary: a yardstick – en måttstock


Stockholm politician whose supporters complained of 'gangland coup' loses new vote

The Botkyrka politician whose supporters claimed was this year ousted due to gang infiltration has been beaten once again to the post of group leader of the local Social Democrats in a new vote. 

Ebba Östlin, the former mayor of Botkyrka, lost a vote on who should be the group leader of the local Social Democrats to her rival Emanuel Ksiazkiewicz, with only 80 votes to his 121. 

The local party had been in chaos since January, when Östlin lost a no-confidence vote of members, and resigned as mayor a few weeks later. After the vote, her supporters complained she had been the victim of a coup, and that people with known criminal connections had infiltrated the party in order to oust her. An internal investigation by the Social Democrats found no hard evidence to support the claim.

"Hopefully this will bring an end to a long and drawn-out personal conflict," Ksiazkiewicz told SVT after the vote. 

The local chair of the party, Jens Sjöström said that Ksiazkiewicz was a "uniting force" within the party. 

Swedish vocabulary: victim of a coup – ett kuppoffer


Atchoo! Alder pollen invades Sweden

Warmer weather may have brought spring to southern and southeastern Sweden, but with it came the pollen. The common alder is blossoming, and allergy sufferers may already have had an itchy nose, even as far north as Stockholm and Norrland.

“If it gets even warmer, around 15C, in the coming days, we could get a lot [of pollen] at once,” Gothenburg University biologist Åslög Dahl told the TT news agency.

Swedish vocabulary: an itchy nose – en kliande näsa

Foreign buyers snap up cheaper Swedish holiday homes

Sweden’s weak krona is creating a property boom for estate agents selling houses to foreign buyers who wish to settle down in the Swedish countryside, reports TT.

“It’s practically a sale for our Danish and German, Dutch and Swiss customers. They’re seizing the opportunity too, so we’re really busy,” said estate agent Christer Stjernfeldt.

Some three decades ago, when the krona was also low, they used to buy summer houses, but are today looking more for a second home where they can spend much of the year. The trend of working from home during the pandemic has made remote working easier.

Foreign buyers also benefit from the fact that the cost of buying a holiday home has gone down in Sweden, with the average price falling two percent in one year.

Swedish vocabulary: a holiday home – ett fritidshus



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