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

More than 5,000 people notified of layoffs in Sweden, Americans in Sweden warned of terror threat in wake of Koran burning, and the Swedish Migration Agency presents a new forecast for 2023. Here's the latest news.

Today in Sweden: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday
The Swedish Public Employment Service has released new statistics about job cuts. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

More than 5,000 warned of layoffs in Sweden last month

A total of 5,328 people were affected by potential layoffs in Sweden in January, according to preliminary statistics by the Public Employment Service.

Swedish law states that employers in most cases have to first give employees and the service notice that there may be layoffs, so not all of those people will necessarily lose their jobs. Here’s a link to The Local’s guide to what happens if you lose your job in Sweden.

In January last year, the corresponding figure was just over 1,400 people, but it has been increasing every month since, writes Swedish news agency TT.

Swedish vocabulary: a notice (when notifying staff that they may be laid off, but they could still end up keeping their jobs or get a new job at the same company) – ett varsel

US citizens in Sweden warned of terror attack in wake of Koran burnings

In a new notice, the US embassy warns its citizens in Sweden of possible terrorist attacks in retaliation of recent Koran burning incidents in Europe.

In Sweden, a far-right extremist last month burned the Koran outside the Turkish embassy, causing Turkey to suspend Nato talks with Sweden and Finland, and causing outrage in many Muslim countries.

The notice advises US citizens to “use caution” in busy public venues, diplomatic facilities and gathering sites such as places of worship. Sweden has not changed its terror threat level, which remains at level three on a scale from one to five.

Swedish vocabulary: a terror threat level – en terrorhotnivå

Swedish Migration Agency’s new forecast for 2023

The Migration Agency estimates that 16,000 people will seek asylum in Sweden in 2023, and 15,000 Ukrainians will seek protection. However, it adds that the number of Ukrainian arrivals could vary from 8,000 to 100,000 depending on how the war develops.

It also believes that around 80,000 people will apply for Swedish citizenship this year, and that the agency will receive 60,000 work permit-related first-time applications (this also includes for example family members of work permit applicants and job hunters).

Swedish vocabulary: a refugee – en flykting

Cost of living: How food prices rose in Sweden in early 2023

The increase in food prices in January was 1.4 percent – one of the largest increases reported since food prices started rising almost a year ago, according to independent comparison site Matpriskollen.

In January, the price of groceries increased 1.3 percent on December, with the price of food specifically increasing by 1.4 percent. Food prices have now gone up 16.3 percent in the last 12 months. Read more in The Local’s article.

Swedish vocabulary: food prices – matpriser

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

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.

Today in Sweden: a roundup of the latest 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