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Sweden Elects: Budget reforms, a paradigm shift and 26 seconds of silence

The Local's editor Emma Löfgren explains the key events to keep an eye on in Swedish politics this week.

Sweden Elects: Budget reforms, a paradigm shift and 26 seconds of silence
Elisabeth Svantesson, Sweden’s finance minister, along with Erik Slottner, Sweden’s new Minister for Public Administration and Niklas Wykman, new Minister for Financial Markets. Photo: Finance Ministry


I’m writing this newsletter early in the morning. It’s still dark outside but I can see a thin strip of sunny orange on the horizon and it’s almost November.

Later next month, on November 8th to be specific, Sweden’s new government is expected to hand over its first budget bill to parliament.

Rumours have it that it will not contain some of the most far-reaching reforms of the Tidö Agreement, the deal between the three right-wing parties in government and the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats.

Those reforms are instead planned in time for next year’s budget, reports Swedish finance newspaper Dagens Industri, giving the parties more time to work out the finer details of the proposals that allowed Moderate party leader – and now Prime Minister – Ulf Kristersson to form his government.

We already know a little bit about what will be proposed in this year’s budget (3,000 pages, according to Expressen). As is usually the case, the parties have been releasing information in dribs and drabs to maximise the time that the Swedish media will spend reporting on their budget.

One of the proposals is a dedicated 6.7 billion kronor (approximately $612 million) to tax cuts on fuel, following up on election promises to lower petrol and diesel prices. This would mean a decrease of one krona per litre from the start of next year, according to the parties, although Swedish news agency TT reports the actual effect at the pump will be a decrease of 0.14 kronor per litre of petrol and 0.41 kronor per litre of diesel.

Last week the government also announced its plan for a so-called “high-cost protection” for those hit by high power prices. More on that HERE.

In other news, the government has also spent the past week cautiously warning that some of the ambitious pledges made before the election may take slightly longer to implement than voters may be expecting (the above-mentioned high-cost protection was supposed to have been introduced by November 1st, which is no longer a likely deadline). 

“It could get worse before it gets better,” said Kristersson in his first speech to parliament about his promise to crack down on gang crime, a line he repeated in the first parliamentary debate last week.

Social Democrat opposition leader (and former Prime Minister) Magdalena Andersson at a press conference attacked the government on missing the November 1st deadline on the high-cost protection for energy costs. “You shouldn’t make promises you can’t keep,” she told reporters.

But she was reluctant to offer any strong criticism of the government on its migration policies, when asked in an interview by the Expressen newspaper, instead suggesting they did not go far enough.

“There is absolutely no question that we need a strict set of migration laws,” she said, rejecting the claims of Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson that the new programme represented a “paradigm shift”.

“The paradigm shift happened in 2015, and we carried it out,” she said, taking credit on behalf of the Social Democrat-led government at the time.

Has there been a paradigm shift? More than 500 readers responded to a recent survey by The Local, with over half saying they felt less welcome in Sweden than before the election. Many shared personal stories of racism or xenophobia they had faced since moving to Sweden. Read it HERE.

The Local carried out the survey after US tech worker Kat Zhou found herself in the eye of a storm after posting on Twitter about her experiences of racism. Our Sweden in Focus podcast spoke to her after her series of tweets went viral for both the right and the wrong reasons.

In the world of local Swedish politics, an interview with the deputy mayor of Norrtälje went viral (it even made Australian news!) after he was asked by an SVT reporter about the top councillors’ decision to raise their salaries by up to 27 percent… and was speechless for 26 seconds.

SVT lets the camera roll while awaiting his response, and in the end he answers “it’s a question of priorities”. You can watch the video here.

To be fair, after this election, 26 seconds of silence felt like a relief.

In Sölvesborg, the hometown of Jimmie Åkesson, the Sweden Democrats unexpectedly lost control of the municipality after their Moderate allies switched sides. Here’s The Local’s report in English.

In Gothenburg, a red-green coalition took power after the Social Democrats, Green Party and Left Party managed to oust the Moderates, despite failing to strike a coalition deal with the Centre Party.

And in Nynäshamn, a Sweden Democrat councillor resigned after being outed as a former propagandist for neo-Nazi site Nordfront. Anti-racist magazine Expo and Expressen found that she had used the racist N-word several times in posts, described gay pride celebrations as “disgusting” and called on women to live a “National Socialist life”.

Sweden Elects is a weekly column by Editor Emma Löfgren looking at the big talking points and issues after the Swedish election. Members of The Local Sweden can sign up to receive the column as a newsletter in their email inbox each week. Just click on this “newsletters” option or visit the menu bar.

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Sweden’s emissions to rise as budget relaxes green targets to fight inflation

Sweden's government conceded that greenhouse gas emissions would rise in the short term as a result of budget decisions, but insisted they would fall in the long term.

Sweden's emissions to rise as budget relaxes green targets to fight inflation

The conservative administration, run by the Moderates and backed by far-right Sweden Democrats (SD), announced that greenhouse gas emissions would increase by 2030, at least in part owing to heightened tax relief on fuels.

Stockholm wants to reduce fuel and diesel taxes to ease price rises, which peaked last December at 12 percent year-on-year and have hammered Swedes’ purchasing power.

“Following decisions taken between July 1st, 2022 and July 1st, 2023, emissions are expected to increase by 5.9 to 9.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2) by 2030, but decrease long term by 1.8 million tonnes by 2045,” according to the draft budget.

Transport emissions notably are set to rise by 3.6 MtCO2 to 6.5 MtCO2 by 2030.

The government said it would not be possible to achieve transport objectives as the reduction in fuel tax notably “contributes to an increase in their consumption, an increase in traffic and a delayed electrification” of on-road vehicles.


The slashing of those taxes will shrink contributions to the Swedish treasury by around 6.5 billion kronor or some $600,000.

“It will be cheaper to refuel your car,” said Oscar Sjöstedt, an SD lawmaker who helped to draft the budget. The party “will continue to work for a reduction in fuel taxes”, he added.

Sweden has fixed a target of reaching net zero by 2045, five years ahead of an EU target.

“Sweden will pursue an ambitious and effective climate policy which will make it possible to achieve climate objectives,” Climate Minister Romina Pourmokhtari told Dagens Nyheter.

But Green lawmaker Janine Alm Ericson said the budget comprised “a catastrophe for the climate”.


Greenpeace also criticised the budget as appearing to under prioritise the greening of the economy.

Anna König Jerlmyr, former Stockholm mayor for the Moderates, also criticised the budget for “falling short” in the field of climate.

“We must work to reduce emissions in Sweden, not increase them,” she wrote in a LinkedIn post. “Totally opposite the goals of the Paris agreement.”

Sweden’s independent Climate Policy Council earlier this year criticised the government for policies which it predicted would at least in the short term raise rather than cut emissions.

Article by AFP’s Etienne Fontaine