What changes in Sweden in May 2023?

Becky Waterton
Becky Waterton - [email protected]
What changes in Sweden in May 2023?
Could Loreen win Eurovision for Sweden on May 13th? Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Public holidays, cheaper fuel, electricity price subsidy for businesses, taxes, more expensive post and a seal hunt. Here's what changes in Sweden in May 2023.


Public holidays

May brings with it two public holidays, May 1st and Ascension Day.

Ascension Day is always on a Thursday, falling on May 18th this year. This means Friday May 19th is a great klämdag opportunity, meaning you can book it off to give yourself a four-day weekend and only use one day of annual leave (although your Swedish colleagues probably got there ahead of you and booked it off months ago).

You probably figured out that May 1st falls on the same calendar day each year, meaning that the weekday changes. Last year it fell on a Sunday, meaning no extra day off, but this year it falls on a Monday.

The day off is to celebrate International Workers' Day (also referred to as Labour Day in some countries), with left-wing parties holding parades in Swedish towns and cities up and down the country.

The right-wing parties will still be busy, however, celebrating Valborg and the King's birthday the day before on April 30th.

May 13th: Eurovision

Another highlight of the Swedish calendar, Eurovision will take place in May in Liverpool.

We're aware that Liverpool is not in Sweden, but many Swedes will be watching the contest, especially considering Sweden's entry, Tattoo by former Eurovision winner Loreen, is hotly tipped to win this year.

You can watch the programme with Swedish commentary from 9pm on Saturday, May 19th on SVT


Don't miss your deadline to declare taxes! 

May 2nd is the last day on which people in Sweden can submit their tax declaration. If you are self-employed you can you can extend this until May 16th by logging into your page on the Tax Agency's website or calling them on 0771 567 567 or +46 8 564 851 60 from outside Sweden. 

If you miss the deadline you will have to pay a fee of 1,250 kronor initially, with a further 1,250 kronor after three months and a further 1,250 kronor after five months.

Will the Turkish election unlock Sweden's Nato application? 

Turkey is holding the first round of its presidential election on May 14th, a date that is seen as important in unlocking Sweden's blocked Nato bid. Many observers hope that if President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wins, he will afterwards have less to gain from using the Nato process to extract concessions from Sweden.

If he loses on the other hand, his rival Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the Republican People's Party, is likely to be an easier negotiating partner. 

Most polls give Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu a slender lead. If a second round is warranted, it will be held on May 28th. 


Cheaper fuel?

The three government parties pledged in their Tidö agreement with the far-right Sweden Democrats to lower fuel prices by lowering Sweden's reduction obligation - an obligation to mix more climate-friendly biofuels into diesel and petrol. In the agreement, it says that the share of biofuels should be reduced to the lowest possible level permitted under EU rules.

In the EU's climate package, Fit for 55, no official minimum level for the reduction obligation has been set, although there are binding rules dictating how far Sweden's carbon dioxide emissions must fall, which would be more difficult to reach if vehicle emissions increase.

Negotiations on how low the new reduction obligation level should be are still ongoing between the government and the Sweden Democrats, with climate minister Romina Pourmokhtari expecting an agreement to be reached in May.

"We've been clear in the Tidö Agreement that we need to change our reduction obligation and work to negotiate an agreement on this point is ongoing. It won't take too long before we have a result on this front," Pourmokhtari said.

Energy price support for businesses

Businesses in the south of Sweden are still waiting for compensation from the government for high energy prices between October 2021 and September last year: support which was originally promised to arrive before Christmas.

Finally, there is light at the end of the tunnel for many business owners who, if all goes to plan, should be able to apply for the energy price subsidy from May 30th, with payouts taking place over the summer.

This all depends on when - and if - the EU commission accepts the government's planned payment model.

"We've been very clear that the commission has to say yes in order for this to work, business know that," said energy and business minister Ebba Busch.

"Obviously, I hope that the commission can keep up with Sweden's schedule."

The subsidy will be decided based on usage, with payouts of 79 öre per kilowatt hour in energy zone 4 and 50 öre in energy zone 3. Businesses can receive a maximum of around 20 million kronor in subsidy, and those with fixed-price contracts will not be able to receive compensation for costs they have not incurred.


More expensive to send parcels to Swedish countryside 

Postnord will from May 2nd charge an extra 1.5 kronor on packets delivered into the countryside with both the "Mypack home small" and "varubrev" parcels affected. 

According to the company about 2,500 remote postal districts in Sweden will be levied the additional charge. 

New food price stats to put pressure on supermarkets to cut prices 

Statistics Sweden, the country's national statistics office, will in mid-May release new food statistics, which are likely to both put additional political pressure on Sweden's supermarket chains to reduce prices, and will also affect the likelihood of the Riksbank central bank increasing interest rates once again in June or September. 

The numbers are likely to show whether competition between supermarkets is succeeding in dampening price rises or if the cuts in the prices of some every day items have been largely symbolic. 


The Aurora 23 military exercise reaches its climax 

Aurora 23, the biggest military exercise in Sweden for 25 years, will come to an end on May 11th. The exercise, which involves more than 26,000 people, is primarily taking place on firing ranges and other areas owned by the armed forces but will also take place on private land, with troop convoys visible across southern Sweden and Gotland. 

Sweden's annual seal hunt continues  

Sweden's Environmental Protection Agency has issued licences for the hunting of 1,500 gray seals and 630 harbour seals in April and May. Hunting is allowed to take place between April 20th and May 20th for both gray seals and harbour seals.


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