Quick guide to the Swedish election

The 9th of September, the Swedish election will take place. Voters will elect members of the Riksdag (parliament), which in turn will elect Sweden’s statsminister (prime minister). There will also be elections for kommun (council) and landsting (county council). Here is a quick guide to the electoral system in Sweden, the parties that can be voted for, and some handy links to tests you can do to see which party is most representative for you.

The Swedish electoral system

Sweden hold elections every fourth year, always on the second Sunday in September. Riksdagen is made up of 349 seats in total. All seats are elected through proportional representation (unlike the system in countries like United Kingdom and United States for example). Each of the 29 constituencies has a set number of parliamentarians that is divided through constituency results to ensure regional representation. The other MPs are then elected through a proportional balancing, to ensure that the numbers of elected MPs for the various parties accurately represent the votes of the electorate. Sweden has parliamentarism in a constitutional monarchy, which means that you vote for a government, not a statsminister. In this sense, statsministern is indirectly elected. A minimum of 4% of the national vote is required for a party to enter the Riksdag.

Who can vote?

To vote for Riksdagen, you need to be at least 18 years of age and be a Swedish citizen (and be or have been registered at a Swedish address).

To vote for kommun and landsting, you need to be at least 18 years of age and either be an EU-citizen (or citizen of Iceland or Norway) and be registered at a Swedish address, or been registered at a Swedish address for at least 3 years.

Which are the major political parties?

There are currently 8 major parties who have seats in Riksdagen. They span from left to right on the political spectrum. There are many online tests you can do in Swedish to test which party suits you best. Some of them are SVT:s valkompass, TTs valkompass, Aftonbladets valkompass, and Expressens valkompass. Sveriges radio also has a test in several different languages, including English.

Socialdemokraterna (Social democrats)

The largest political party in the Swedish Riksdag, with 113 of the 349 seats. It is the major component of the current government (Löfven Cabinet), in which it governs together with the Green Party. Its current leader, Stefan Löfven, has been Prime Minister of Sweden since 3 October 2014.


A brief guide in English and other languages about their politics can be found here.

Website: https://www.socialdemokraterna.se/





moderaterna (the moderate party)

The second-largest party in the Riksdag with 84 seats. The party is involved alongside three other parties in the Alliance; all four will seek to return to power together. Ulf Kristersson is the party leader currently, since 1 October 2017.


A brief guide in English and other languages about their politics can be found here.

Website: https://moderaterna.se/





sverigedemokraterna (the sweden democrats)

The third-largest party in the Riksdag with 49 seats. In the 2014 general election the party increased its number of seats by 29, becoming the third-largest party. Its leader is Jimmie Åkesson, who is the longest-serving party leader. The other Riksdag parties have repeatedly stated that they will not cooperate with the Sweden Democrats in a future government. An extra general election was called after the Sweden Democrats gave its support to the oppositional Alliance budget. After the proposed extra election was cancelled, the party advertised itself as the ‘only opposition party’ and in the following months it saw a sharp rise in support.


No guides in English or other languages about their politics were found on their website

Website: https://sd.se/





miljöpartiet (the green party)

The fourth-largest party in the Riksdag with 25 seats, and a minor component of the current government together with Socialdemokraterna. It is the only Swedish party to have two spokespersons (the green party call them språkrör), currently Gustav Fridolin (since 2011) who serves as Minister for Education, and Isabella Lövin (since 2016) who serves as Minister for International Development Cooperation.








A brief guide in English and other languages about their politics can be found here.

Website: https://www.mp.se/

centerpartiet (the centre party)

The fifth-largest party in the Riksdag with 22 seats. It was a part of the government from 2006 to 2014, and is involved in the Alliance. The Centre Party has been led by Annie Lööf since 2011. It was subject to public attempts by Löfven to become a cooperation party, but the party traditionally leans towards the Moderate policy positions and stayed within the Alliance after the 2014 election.








A brief guide in English and other languages about their politics can be found here (click on Other languages).

Website: https://www.centerpartiet.se/

vänsterpartiet (the left party)

The sixth-largest party in the Riksdag with 21 seats. Its current leader is Jonas Sjöstedt. He has said that the party seeks to participate in a future Red-Green coalition government.


No brief guide in English or other languages about their politics were found, but they have an easy-to-read Swedish summary here.

Website: https://www.vansterpartiet.se/




liberalerna (the liberals)

The seventh-largest party in the Riksdag with 19 seats. It was a part of the government from 2006 to 2014, and is involved in the Alliance. The Liberals has been led by Jan Björklund since 2007.


A brief guide in English and other languages about their politics can be found here.

Website: https://www.liberalerna.se/




kristdemokraterna (the christian democrats)

The smallest party in the Riksdag with 16 seats. They have been led by Ebba Busch Thor since 2015, and are involved in the Alliance. According to opinion polls there is a significant risk that the Christian Democrats will fail to achieve representation in the next Riksdag.








A brief guide in English and other languages about their politics can be found here.

Website: https://kristdemokraterna.se/

minor parties

There are also minor parties who may hold seats in kommun, landsting, or the European Parliament, but have not reached a 4% threshold to win a seat in Riksdagen. Examples of these are Feministiskt Initiativ (Feminist Initiative) and Piratpartiet (the Pirate Party).

What happens next?

Voting will take place all over the country until (and in particular on) Sunday the 9th of September. While waiting for results, many media channels will host Valvaka – an event with discussions and debates, while the counting of the votes happen. It usually stretches into the early hours of the Monday, before any definite results can be confirmed.


When do we use ‘Kommer att’ and ‘ska’?

Do you find it tricky to understand the difference between ‘kommer att’ and ‘ska’ in Swedish? Fear not. In this week’s blog post, Swedish teacher Daniel is here to help!

Kommer att vs ska

Hej! Daniel here. In this week’s blog post I’ll help you to make sense of the Swedish words ‘kommer att’ and ‘ska.

In the early 1980s, I watched a Swedish cartoon called Alfons Åberg as a child. It’s about a young boy who starts his sentences with “Jag ska bara …” whenever his father tells him to get ready for school. The word ska (+ infinitiv verb) is used when the subject has decided or wants to do something specific. Alfons wants to do something else before preparing himself for school, and he’s stating his intention.

Sometimes you can also use the verb tänker as a substitute for ska. If Alfons decided to play with his toys before eating breakfast, he could tell his father: “Jag ska bara leka”. He could also say “Jag tänker bara leka.”

In contrast, kommer att (+ infinitiv verb) is used when the subject talks about future events they can’t control. Alfons’ father becomes stressed and tells his son: “Vi kommer (att) bli sena” (We will be late). This is a prediction that they will be late for school if Alfons doesn’t hurry up. The att is usually omitted in speech, but not in writing.

Another example to show intent is when we tell someone about our travel destination for the holiday: “Jag ska resa till Spanien” (“I will travel to Spain/My intention is to…/I have decided to…).

“Jag kommer att resa till Spanien” communicates that the issue is somehow outside of the subject’s control, may be travelling for a business trip, decided by someone else etc, which leaves little choice for decision making.

A third example is weather prediction where both kommer att and ska is sometimes used.

“Det kommer att regna i helgen” (It’s going to rain in the weekend). We don’t know for sure, but we predict rain because we’ve heard a rumour or based on the current weather.

“Det ska regna i helgen” (It will rain in the weekend). This is still a prediction, but there’s more evidence presented for the event to happen. Maybe the speaker has followed the weather report all week or cites another weather source.

Many Swedish learners struggle with these two concepts. There is a tendency to underestimate the use of the present tense for future meaning. I encourage to perceive the present tense as a sort of default choice, unless the utterance is cleary intentional or predictional.

Ha det gött! 



Swedish Exam – Känner du till SWEDEX?

Swedish Exam (aka SWEDEX)

Do you know of SWEDEX? It is an internationally recognised Swedish language exam, and it relates to the Common European Framework of Reference For Languages. You can currently take the exam at 3 different levels: A2, B1 and B2. Swedex is approved by the government body the Swedish Institute and can be taken irrespective of how you have learnt Swedish. The exam tests knowledge that can be applied in practice within all kinds of language proficiency: speaking, reading, listening and writing. The test can be taken both in and outside Sweden, in 92 cities, in 32 countries.


It is usable proof if you for example want to work in Sweden, continue your studies in Swedish or follow education in Swedish that does not require more advanced language knowledge. Swedex B1 approximately corresponds to the level for Sfi, course D. However, an important difference is that the Sfi exam tests whether you have passed a specific course while this exam tests general knowledge of Swedish.

For those who work in healthcare settings and need to prove level C1 to Socialstyrelsen in order to get a medical license to practice, Folkuniversitetet also has a C1 test that is accepted by Socialstyrelsen.

You pay to take the test, but the cost varies depending on the examination centre. Here is a list of all examination centres, and you can contact them directly to find out how much they charge.

The test takes between 2 and 4 hours, depending on the level you are testing for. You have to manage at least 60% on both the written and the oral parts in order to pass. If you have failed a module, you have failed the exam in its entirety. This means you have to take the whole exam again next time.

Both Anneli and Daniel at Swedish Made Easy can help you to prepare for a SWEDEX test.

Have a look here to read more about the test, and you can also find mock exams here, so you can test your current level.


Kräftor kräftor kräftor!

Kräftor – Crayfish

August is the season for kräftor crayfish in Sweden. But how did this tradition start in Sweden? What does it entail today? And what are some useful phrases for a traditional kräftskiva crayfish party?

The history of kräftor in Sweden

In Sweden, we have been eating kräftor for many hundreds of years. Earlier, it was mainly considered food for the upper classes, and it wasn’t until late 1800’s and early 1900’s that it became more widely popular in Sweden. About 100 years ago, the idea of kräftskiva crayfish party started to become firmly established.

Why august?

Kräftor has become associated to the month of August because of legislation. Since the Swedes ate large amounts of crayfish, it led to the introduction of legislation in terms of when it was allowed to fish for crayfish. In late 1800’s for example, it was not allowed to fish for crayfish throughout June and July. In the past decades, legislation has become more relaxed again, and there are no strict dates or times for crayfishing any longer. But since it has been associated with August for so long, it is still customary to begin the ‘crayfish season’ (to eat crayfish and to have crayfish parties) in early-mid August.

How do you catch kräftor? (or where can you buy them?)

In Sweden, there are two species of freshwater crayfish: flodkräftan and signalkräftan. Flodkräftan is from Sweden, whereas signalkräftan has been introduced into Sweden and does not originate from Sweden. They live in shallow waters where they build holes next to stones and roots.

As a private person, you are not allowed to fish for crayfish anywhere you like. Only Lake Vättern is actually open to the public. In other waters around the country, you will need some kind of license (unless you are lucky enough to be the owner of the lake!). On the West Coast, people tend to eat havskräftor – which is more like a langoustine. 

Kräftor are nocturnal animals, and are therefore caught at night. The most common way to catch them is by putting out special netted crates on the lake bed and fill them with fish, so that the crayfish are lured inside.

It is said that you should minimise the suffering of the crayfish by putting them head first into boiling water, so that they die more quickly.

You can also buy them from most supermarkets throughout August.

Kräftskiva Crayfish party

The typical kräftskiva is a party where we eat crayfish and other foods, sing songs and drink (usually quite a lot).

The crayfish are cooked whole in salted water accompanied with dill, other herbs and sometimes also beer. This is accompanied with baguettes, knäckebröd, herb-infused cheese, prawns, and often västerbottenpaj. To drink, Swedes often opt for snaps (herb-infused vodka), beer and soft fizzy drinks. It is quite common to sing songs when drinking snaps.

It is also common to wear special paper hats and bibs with a crayfish motif, and use serviettes with images of crayfish. Lanterns, bunting and candles often accompany the scene of a kräftskiva.

A word of caution…. Crayfish takes some time to eat (because of the challenge of cracking the shells) and the combination of slow eating and drinking snaps can mean a high likelihood of getting drunk quickly! Remember you don’t actually have to empty the snaps every time, even though some Swedes might try and insist on it.

Some useful phrases for a kräftskiva

Åh vad gott det var! Oh it’s really tasty!

Hur öppnar man den här? How do you open this one? (referring to the crayfish)

Kan jag få…? Can I get…?

Kan du skicka…? Can you pass me…?

Det är bra, tack. I’m good thanks. (as in ‘no more, please’)

Tack för maten! Thanks for the food! 

Kan jag hjälpa till med något? Can I do anything? (for example help clearing the table)

Jag är mätt. I am full. 

Jag är full. I am drunk. 

Soundcloud documentary: Who learns Swedish?

Who learns Swedish?

Earlier this year, I (Anneli) was contacted by Annika Beth Jones, a UK journalist student making her final year project: an audio documentary about the rise in Swedish learners during the past five years. She asked me if I wanted to participate in the documentary, to which I said yes!

Annika Jones

The documentary theme stemmed from Annika’s own experiences of learning Swedish, and that in the last 4-5 years the numbers of learners and online resources have exploded. Duolingo is currently recording over 5m registered learners, which considering that of the less than 10m living in Sweden 90% speak English, begs the question why the sudden popularity? Who learns Swedish?

Annika had spoken to lots of people with different reasons for learning, including relationships with Swedes, learning for the joy of it or the kudos – polyglots, refugees, those with Swedish ancestry they wish to connect to, those who have moved to Sweden for educational opportunities or simply because they love the idea of Sweden. These interviews would then be crossed with interviews with linguists, Swedish language youtubers, etc.

What she wanted to discuss with me firstly was some facts about Swedish itself. None of the language experts she had spoken to knew much specifically about Swedish. Annika was looking for someone to explain about the background/origins of Swedish and how it fits into the European language landscape.

She was also interested in my take on language learning, how it’s changed, what the future might hold and what that means for learners, teachers and eventually maybe the languages themselves.

One theme that had come up time and time again is that the world seems to be in love with the perceived culture of Sweden, so she was keen to discuss that and how accurate those perceptions are, how learning a language is a way of buying into that, etc. She asked: “As a Swede is it strange that so many people want to learn your language?”

We had a long, interesting conversation over Skype that we recorded, and you can now listen to the full documentary – Who learns Swedish – on Annika’s soundcloud profile. I think many will find this piece very interesting.