The general welfare in Sweden means that everyone is entitled to a pension and a number of social insurance benefits, regardless of their financial position. It is financed by taxes, employers ‘fees and to some extent employees’ own contributions.
Social insurance is managed by the Swedish Social Insurance Agency and mainly includes child support, parental allowance, housing allowance, disability benefit, sickness benefit and sickness and activity allowance (formerly called early retirement pension). Payments from Försäkringskassan in 2017 amounted to SEK 228 billion, or just under 5 percent of GDP. Just over half went to sick people and people with disabilities, and a third to children and families.
- Countryaah Official Site: Official statistics for population in Sweden, including population growth, density, and estimation in next 50 years.
Pensions have been managed since 2010 by the Pensions Agency, which took over the work of the former Premium Pension Authority, as well as the tasks handled by the Swedish Social Insurance Agency’s pension department.
A new general pension system began to be introduced in 1999 and means that the pension is affected by the country’s economic growth. The system is divided into three main parts: income pension, premium pension and guarantee pension. The income pension is based on the total income during life and may be taken out from the age of 61. Two and a half percent of the annual pensionable income is called a premium pension and may be invested freely in, for example, mutual funds. The guarantee pension is aimed at those who have had limited income or have not worked and may be taken out from the age of 65. At the end of 2017, a majority of the Riksdag agreed on changes in the age levels in the pension system.
Employees are entitled to 25 vacation days each year. Parental leave covers 16 months, of which 12 with 80 per cent of the salary up to a certain limit. Two months are earmarked for each parent. Men took 28 percent of parental leave in 2017. The sickness benefit amounts to 80 percent of the salary, up to a certain ceiling, from the second day of illness.
Sick leave and, above all, early retirement increased over a number of years and became an increasing burden on the state. After a peak in 2003, the so-called ill-health rate fell steadily for several years. Stricter control to curb cheating was introduced in 2005 and the rules were tightened in 2008, although after strong criticism they were revised somewhat thereafter. The government’s goal was to get more people to return to work, but the critics felt that many sick people were affected by unreasonable demands. From 2010, the number of ill-health has increased again, which is partly due to the fact that previously insured individuals have returned to health insurance.
Health care is largely tax-financed, but primary and elderly care in particular is increasingly performed by private operators. Health care maintains a high standard, but is criticized, among other things, for long waiting times for planned interventions.
As in most parts of the world, the views on LGBTQ rights have changed significantly in recent decades. Homosexuality was decriminalized in 1944, but acceptance remained low in society. Sweden became the first country in the world in 1979 to stop classifying homosexuality as a disease.
Gay couples in Sweden were given the right to enter into marriage in 2009. From 1995 there was the right to enter into a registered partnership, and even before the marriage bar became gay, gays were given the right to have joint custody of children, become adoptive parents and have access to assisted conception. Since 2011, there has been a ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation in the Constitution. According to critics, there is much left to do regarding transgender rights.
FACTS – SOCIAL CONDITIONS
Infant Mortality: 2 per 1000 births (2018)
Proportion of population with access to clean water: 100.0 percent (2015)
Proportion of the population having access to toilets: 99.3 percent (2017)
Public expenditure on health care as a percentage of GDP: 11.0 percent (2015)
Public expenditure on health care per person: US $ 5,711 (2016)
Proportion of women in parliament: 46 percent (2018)
Fire attack against mosques
Three mosques – in Eskilstuna, Eslöv and Uppsala – are subject to fire attacks during the last week of the year. In Eskilstuna, five people are injured. Culture Minister Alice Bah Kunke says that the government should develop a national strategy against Islamophobia.
New elections averted by “December agreement”
At a joint press conference, the government and alliance parties announce that they have reached a settlement on how Sweden should be governed even with a minority government. According to the “December Agreement”, the party grouping that receives the greatest electoral support should have its prime ministerial candidate elected and a minority government should get through its budget. In addition, no part of the budget can be broken out (see December 2013). The six party leaders have also agreed on three political areas in which to work across the block boundary: pensions, defense and energy. The settlement will be valid until the election in 2022, ie two terms of office. The Left Party is not part of the agreement, but welcomes it. SD responds by saying that the party intends to request a vote of no confidence against Stefan Löfven.
Try to avoid new elections
Intense political debate follows the budget drama, with accusations between the blokes about who tried to “reach out” and who has refused to cooperate. Soon it becomes clear that negotiations are under way to find a settlement that would make it possible to avoid the new election; very little indicates that it would lead to a change in the parliamentary situation.
New elections are planned after budget cuts
After the vote in which the government’s budget was voted down, the prime minister announces that he will announce extra elections for parliament. The announcement will take place on December 29, the earliest possible date, and the election will be held on March 22, 2015.
Government crisis after budget outage
The day before Parliament is to vote on the budget, the Swedish Democrats announce that they intend to vote on the Alliance’s budget motion. Thus, the government does not receive support for its budget, and the result is a government crisis. The SD also says that the party will in the future try to trap all governments that want to increase immigration, and points out the Environment Party as an “extremist party”. Deputy party leader Mattias Karlsson says the error is the prime minister’s, as he has not wanted to negotiate with the SD.
Unchanged care choice
Following criticism from the Law Council, the government withdraws a proposal to change the rules for the free choice of care, which the previous government introduced. According to the proposal, county councils would no longer be required to offer care choices. The Law Council considers that the proposal has been submitted too hastily and that the consequences are too poorly investigated.
Swedes in IS
Säpo states that around 100 Swedes are estimated to have joined the extremist group Islamic State (IS) and to participate in fighting in Iraq and Syria.
Mediterranean institutions may retain funds
The government amends a decision to withdraw funding for the Mediterranean institutes, three research and cultural institutes in Athens, Istanbul and Rome, following extensive criticism.
Changed asylum forecast
The Swedish Migration Agency re-writes the figures on the number of asylum seekers expected to come to Sweden in 2015 to 95,000, which is 18,000 more than was predicted six months earlier. In 2014, the number of asylum seekers is estimated at 83,000, which in itself is a large increase. The large flow raises questions about the municipalities’ responsibility for receiving asylum applications, and about the lack of housing.
Palestine formally recognized
The government formally recognizes Palestine, to which Israel responds by calling its ambassador from Stockholm. Large parts of the opposition in Sweden are also very critical of the decision.
The repo rate is zero
For the first time, the Riksbank lowers its key policy rate to 0 percent, from 0.25 percent (see July 2009), which means that the banks can borrow free of charge from the Riksbank. The main reason stated is that inflation is too low.
Jimmie Åkesson sick leave
SD leader Jimmie Åkesson is on sick leave indefinitely for fatigue syndrome. Group leader Mattias Karlsson temporarily takes over the leadership of the party.
Submarine hunting outside Stockholm
The military launches an extensive search in the archipelago for information that a damaged Russian submarine has been targeted. At least three “probable observations” of an underwater vehicle are made at different locations. Moscow denies Russian presence, but the search continues for a week before the military blows off the operation, noting that any vessels are likely to have left the archipelago. The possible intrusion revives in the debate about the major cuts made in the defense.
Declaration of Government and new government
When Prime Minister Löfven reads his declaration of government, there is an unexpected element that Sweden should recognize Palestine as a state. Furthermore, the parental allowance must be abolished, as is the right to a routine deduction for homework. Instead, money should be invested in homework for all children. Löfven also presents the new government. Margot Wallström becomes new Foreign Minister, Magdalena Andersson becomes Finance Minister and Morgan Johansson Minister of Justice. Of 24 ministers, 6 are environmentalists and the rest are social democrats. The gender distribution is even.
Stefan Löfven becomes prime minister
S leader Stefan Löfven is elected head of government. The support is weak: only social democrats and environmentalists vote yes. The Swedish Democrats vote no while both the Left Party and all the bourgeois parties abstain.
Parliament appointed Social Democrat Urban Ahlin as new president. First Deputy Speaker will be Moderate Tobias Billström and Second Deputy Speaker Sweden Democrat Björn Söder. The choice of the South is controversial; he is an unusually contentious representative of his party after a series of statements about immigrants, Muslims and homosexuals, among others. A closed ballot is requested and three rounds are required and will take over three hours before Söder is elected. Support is low: 52 of the 344 parliamentarians present vote for, while the rest cast their votes.
V is rated by Löfven
Left Party leader Jonas Sjöstedt makes it clear that the party would like to be part of the government, but may call the hand of S leader Stefan Löfven. The future prime minister makes it clear that S wants to form a government with MP, and also seek support from the central parties FP and C in parliament.
The Moderate Leader resigns
Fredrik Reinfeldt leaves the party leader post after the election defeat and Finance Minister Anders Borg also says he is now leaving politics.
Election loss for the government
The election ends as expected with defeat for the alliance parties, but the red-green opposition is only increasing slightly. The election’s big winner will be the SD, supported by 12.9 percent of the electorate in the parliamentary elections (49 seats) and make major incursions into county councils and municipalities around the country. For M, defeat becomes stifling; the party receives support of 23.3 percent (84 seats), which is the lowest figure since the 2002 election. The other bourgeois backs more marginally. C gets 6.1 percent (22), FP 5.4 (19) and KD 4.6 percent (16). S gets 31.0 percent (113), MP 6.9 percent (25) and V 5.7 percent (21). FI, which made a rapid advance at the end, gets 3.1 percent and is thus without parliamentary place.
Severe forest fire in Västmanland
One person dies, hundreds of people are forced to leave their homes and both homes and around 14,000 hectares of forest areas are destroyed in what is described as the worst forest fire in modern times. Assistance with water bombing plan may be called in from Italy and France. The government allocates SEK 300 million to support affected municipalities and forest owners.
Wall promises in the Almedalen
The traditional Almedals week in Visby will be a prelude to the September elections. Alliance parties promise a major investment on high-speed trains, having previously been strong opponents. The Social Democrats propose a bank tax and talk about the ceiling for the size of children’s groups in preschool.
The IMF warns about household debt
In its annual Sweden report, the International Monetary Fund highlights the high debt of households and the size of the banking sector as risks in the Swedish economy. The IMF is also calling for measures to reduce unemployment and increase housing construction.
Right Liberal Summit in Sörmland
Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfelt welcomes German Chancellor Angela Merkel, UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte and discusses the future of the EU. The summit is held at Harpsund, the prime minister’s official recreation center in Södermanland.
High turnout in EU elections
The interest contributes to voter turnout in the European Parliament elections 50%, an increase from 45% in the previous EU elections and significantly higher than the EU average of 43%. The election result represents a strong success for SD but also for the overall left. S is the closest and stomps, but MP and Feminist initiative (Fi) are progressing strongly and V is increasing slightly. MP goes for M as the second largest party and Fi, like SD, is sitting in Parliament in Brussels for the first time. For M, it is a disaster choice and even FP loses significantly, while C and KD increase slightly (all in relation to the last EU election). The pirate party goes out. S gets 24.2% (-0.2 compared to the 2009 election), MP 15.4% (+4.4), M 13.6% (-5.2), FP 9.9% (-3, 7), SD 9.7% (+6.4), V 6.3% (+0.6), Fi 5.5% (+3.3), C 6.5% (+1.0), KD 5.9% (+1.3), Pirate Party 2.2% (-4.9).
Hot before EU elections
The political debate is unusually high before the European Parliament elections. This is partly due to the fact that elections to the parliament, county councils and the municipality take place in the autumn, but also to a large mobilization against xenophobia and racism. The Swedish Democrats ‘active campaign, but also the focus on the neo-Nazi Swedes’ party, has sparked a wave of protests and counter-demonstrations around the country.
Compensation for room registers
The Chancellor of Justice decides that 4,700 people who are in a register of Roma should receive SEK 5,000 each in compensation, provided they request it. The register with the Skånepolisen was revealed by Dagens nyheter 2013 and turned out to include a large number of children and a number of deceased people. The register has been declared illegal and has sparked much debate about the police’s working methods and the vulnerable position of the Roma.
In the first judgments following the violence in Kärrtorp in December 2013, seven Nazis are convicted of violent riots. Three men receive six and eight months’ imprisonment respectively, while four teenagers are sentenced to juvenile care or service. Another 30 people are being investigated for crimes in connection with the incident, including those with links to left-wing groups.
Murdered are released after legal scandal
Sture Bergwall, formerly known as Thomas Quick, is released after more than 20 years of closed psychiatric care. He has since been released from previous murder convictions, in what many call Sweden’s biggest legal scandal in modern times. Bergwall admitted over 30 murders in connection with therapy and was convicted in all eight cases tried in court. He later withdrew the confessions which he said had been made under heavy medication, and was released after raising applications when the witness and technical evidence were missing.
Frozen aid to Uganda
The strict anti-gay law recently adopted in Uganda causes Sweden to follow several other European countries, which have already stopped their assistance to Uganda
Headwind for the opposition
Several polls before the parliamentary elections in September indicate that the red-green parties may get their own majority, with between 51 and 53 percent of the vote.