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SWEDEN ELECTS

Sweden Elects: Why tomorrow is a big day in Swedish politics

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

Sweden Elects: Why tomorrow is a big day in Swedish politics
Swedish Finance Minister Elisabeth Svantesson. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

Hej,

For the first time since before the election, the conservative Moderates are polling higher than their far-right allies, the Sweden Democrats, at least according to public broadcaster SVT and the pollsters at Novus.

They’re now at 20.2 percent, compared to the Sweden Democrats’ 19.4 percent. The change is small and not statistically significant, but is a confidence boost for the Moderates, whose leader Ulf Kristersson holds the post of prime minister despite his party being the second-largest on the right – being second is a role many Moderates will have found hard to stomach. Here’s a link to the poll if you want to compare all the parties.

Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson is set to travel to Ankara tomorrow to meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. They are expected to discuss Sweden’s application to join Nato, which Turkey is one of only two member countries (the other is Hungary) that has yet to ratify.

On the list of Turkey’s demands is that people it describes as “terrorist suspects” be extradited from Sweden, which has been hotly debated.

Tomorrow is also a big day in domestic politics for Sweden, as it’s the day when the new right-wing government will present its first budget bill.

Finance Minister Elisabeth Svantesson is set to hold a press conference at 8.30am. That will be half an hour after she, presumably, will do the iconic “budget walk” from the government building to the parliament building to submit the bill to parliament.

It always takes a while to get used to new ministers when there’s a change of government (just ask the new Moderate Defence Minister Pål Jonson, who through a slip of the tongue addressed his predecessor Peter Hultqvist as Defence Minister in one of his first parliamentary debates after the election) and part of me still thinks of Magdalena Andersson as finance minister, a position the Social Democrat held for seven years before she took over the prime ministership from Stefan Löfven in 2021.

Andersson was as well respected as they come as finance minister, but she also had the benefit of leading Sweden’s finances through a period of general economic growth. Svantesson will not have the same luxury.

Last week, Svantesson presented gloomy figures for the economy going forward, predicting that inflation could reach 5.2 percent next year, that unemployment is likely to grow, and that the economy will shrink slightly rather than grow. And she warned that the situation could get even worse. “The Swedish economy is headed for a rather grim winter,” she said.

Here’s a link to The Local’s 52 top ways of saving money in Sweden.

What else do we know about the budget? As I wrote last week in Sweden Elects, it’s usually announced in dribs and drabs in the weeks leading up to the release of the complete bill, so that the parties can maximise their media coverage. Here’s some of what we’ve learned in the past week:

Unemployment insurance should remain at the same level for now.

The government has said it wants to earmark another 50 million kronor a year for preventing honour-related violence, 100 million a year for making sports more accessible to young people in troubled suburbs, as well as increased support to women’s groups and healthcare in these areas.

It also wants to step up its investment in bioenergy and carbon storage, a technology which aims to convert and store carbon dioxide underground to remove it from the atmosphere. The 36 billion kronor in state funding from 2026-2046 will go to the lowest bidders, said the government.

While we’re on the topic of the environment, I recommend listening to the latest edition of The Local’s Sweden in Focus podcast for an interview with Kimberly Nicholas, a climate scientist at Lund University.

You can also read an interview with Nicholas HERE.

“The bottom line is that if the world follows the path that Sweden is now headed on, we are headed for climate disaster,” she says, but she also offers advice for individual people like you and me on what we can do.

She talks about what each of us can do in the spheres where we have power, and I love that idea that none of us are completely powerless. We may not be able to run a country and make big policy decisions, but we each have the ability to affect the world around us in some way, however small – whether it’s in the way we talk to our neighbours, the way we raise our families, the clubs or societies we join or the jobs we have.

As always, thanks for reading, and remember that if you sign up to receive this column as a newsletter in your email inbox each week you’ll get the column plus a few extra features. Just click on this “newsletters” option or visit the menu bar.

Best wishes,

Emma

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CLIMATE CRISIS

Why did Sweden’s emissions drop in 2023 – and what’s in store for the future?

Sweden's greenhouse gas emissions fell by two percent last year, but the good news may be short-lived.

Why did Sweden's emissions drop in 2023 – and what's in store for the future?

In 2023, the Scandinavian country’s emissions amounted to 44.2 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, a drop of about one tonne from 2022, according to preliminary statistics, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency said in a statement.

The two percent decrease was in line with a 1.6 percent drop announced by Statistics Sweden in late May.

The EPA said the 2023 figure represented a decrease of 38 percent from 1990.

The EPA attributed the year-on-year drop primarily to lower emissions from industry – in particular the cement, iron and steel industries, due to lower production as a result of Sweden’s economic recession – and the electric and district heating sector, due to lower electricity prices.

“Emissions have continued to decrease, not least in industry and electric and district heating, which form part of the EU’s emissions trading system,” Anna-Karin Nyström, the head of the EPA’s climate target division said.

“The pace has slowed compared to the year before, when above all domestic transport and (fuel-based) work machinery contributed to a sharp reduction.”

But in March, an independent panel of experts tasked with reviewing climate policy said the government’s plans would lead to short-term emissions increases in 2024 and knock it off-course from its 2030 reduction target.

The Swedish Climate Policy Council, said in the March report that “policy adopted in 2023 will increase emissions and does not lead towards the fulfilment of Sweden’s climate goals and EU commitments by 2030”.

The council said several measures, such as a reduced fuel tax, put climate ambitions at risk.

But it also lamented a lack of concrete measures in the government’s “climate policy action plan”, a roadmap that the government is required by law to present every four years.

Sweden’s Minister for Climate and the Environment Romina Pourmokhtari said she was “not particularly worried” about the review’s assessments.

“They are based on the government’s policy announcements during 2023, and there are several measures that have been added since then,” Pourmokhtari said.

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