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POLITICS

Swedish word of the day: talmansrunda

The word 'talmansrunda' is crucial vocabulary if you want to have any hope of understanding how a prime minister gets appointed in Sweden.

Swedish word of the day: talmansrunda
The word you need to understand Swedish politics. Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Let’s break the word down. Talman means “speaker of parliament” and is itself a compound word from the verb att tala (to speak) and the noun man (man).

There have been women speakers in Sweden’s political history, the first of them in 1991, but women in the role are still referred to as the talman (Fru Talman or ‘Ms Speaker’ in direct address, and en kvinnlig talman or “a female speaker” if it’s necessary to emphasise the speaker’s gender).

Then there’s the noun runda, which means “round” or “turn”. So far, so simple. But to explain what the word means, we need some context on the current political situation.

Currently the parliamentary speaker is Andreas Norlén, who has held the role since September 2018, and one of his main responsibilities is formally proposing a prime ministerial candidate. After elections with a straightforward “winner”, this is fairly easy: the job would almost always go to the leader of the largest bloc or party.

That wasn’t the case after 2018, with just one seat separating the two biggest blocs. As a result, Norlén had a key role to play in the ensuing negotiations, and that’s where the talmansrundor come into play. A talmansrunda is the stage of the political process when the speaker holds one-on-one talks with the different party leaders in order to work out the best way forward in forming a government.

Talks on forming Sweden's new government to continue next week
Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson partakes in a talmansrunda. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Previously parliament had always accepted the first prime ministerial candidate proposed, but after the 2018 election it took several “rounds” of talks before a government backed by a majority could take power. Even so, the result was a historically weak government, which needed backing from some of its former opposition parties, requiring some significant sacrifices on policy proposals in exchange for this support.

This increasingly fractured political landscape then brought us to June 2021. After a vote of no confidence that united both the left and the right-wing against the government, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven resigned, triggering a new talmansrunda. It’s rare to see these talks outside an election, and Löfven was the first sitting PM to be toppled by a no-confidence motion. After a successful round of talks, however, he was reinstated as prime minister shortly thereafter.

In November 2021, Löfven resigned voluntarily, deciding it was time for someone else to take over the reins. His preferred successor is Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson, but for her to be confirmed by a parliament we need, you guessed it, another talmansrunda.

Norlén is set to hold that round of talks on November 11th. To find out more about the current political status, read The Local’s article.

Examples

Talmannen kommer hålla en ny talmansrunda med partiledarna per telefon

The speaker will hold a new round of talks with the party leaders on the telephone

Talmannen har fixat fika till alla partiledarna under dagens talmansrundor

The speaker prepared fika for all the party leaders during the day’s talks

Villa, Volvo, Vovve: The Local’s Word Guide to Swedish Life, written by The Local’s journalists, is now available to order. Head to lysforlag.com/vvv to read more about it. It is also possible to buy your copy from Amazon USAmazon UKBokus or Adlibris.

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SWEDISH WORD OF THE DAY

​​Swedish word of the day: pyttipanna

This word of the day is a lot of bits of leftovers.

​​Swedish word of the day: pyttipanna

Pyttipanna or pytt i panna is a Swedish dish, but really a Nordic dish, as it exists in Norway (pytt i panne), Denmark (biksemad), and Finland (pyttipannu). The word or words supposedly mean ‘little bits in a pan’. Panna of course is simply ‘pan’ as in ‘frying pan’. But pytt, it seems, is an interesting little word. 

Taken as is, pytt has several meanings: a penis (see pitt), a small person (as in liliputian, lilleputt), a local name for the ‘marsh tit’, which is a little bird, or simply small. But all of those might be wrong. The Swedish Academy actually proposes that the pytt in pyttipanna did not originally mean ‘small’, but that it instead might come from putta, a word that today only means ‘push’, but which has the same root as the English ‘put’ and once also had that meaning. 

This would of course mean that the correct translation into English of pyttipanna is ‘Put in a Pan’! While many refer to it as ‘Swedish Hash’ or ‘Swedish Fry Up, and one could imagine it as ‘Pieces in a Pan’, Jamie Oliver sticks to the actual name pyttipanna when he makes it, and that is the recommended way.

The dish itself is a dish worth tasting for reference, as nearly every Swedish school child will have eaten it, sometimes several times a month, during their entire schooling. The dish is as Swedish as any. And there are fancier variations if you wanna go that way – look for krögarpytt. 

As is often the way with words, people constantly find new and at times even funny uses for them. Pyttipanna is no exception. 

Here you can see Swedish journalist Sara Mitchell-Malm making great use of pyttipanna in the sense of someone being ‘pyttipanna-ed’ or in other word proverbially cut to pieces. The target is British prime minister Liz Truss, and Mitchell-Mann also grabs the opportunity to get a jibe in at the Swedish minister for foreign affairs, Ann Linde.

Translation: ‘Aaah, a whole hour of British local radio journalists making pyttipanna of Liz Truss – the evening shift couldn’t start better. You have to listen, I beg you, she makes Ann Linde on German television seem like a professor of rhetoric.’

What Sara Mitchell-Mann is doing here is replacing the standard slarvsylta, another dish used to say that someone is being shredded by critics or opponents, with pyttipanna. An English language equivalent would be the American ‘making chop suey of someone’. 

Before you ascend to Mitchell-Mann’s Jedi level of pyttipanna use, start by making the dish for your friends. There are many great recipes online. Good luck!

Example sentences:

Gillar ni inte pyttipannan så kommer jag göra pyttipanna av er nästa gång! 

If you don’t like the pyttipanna, I’ll make pyttipanna of you next time!

Pyttipanna eller krögarpytt? Vad är skillnaden?

Pyttipanna or krögarpytt? What’s the difference?

Villa, Volvo, Vovve: The Local’s Word Guide to Swedish Life, written by The Local’s journalists, is now available to order. Head to lysforlag.com/vvv to read more about it. It is also possible to buy your copy from Amazon US, Amazon UK, Bokus or Adlibris.

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