Six hours work, full day's pay.
Leftists refuse to let go of party credo despite more burning issues. Calling it an issue that is at the very soul of their political views, Sweden's Leftist Party repeated their election time vows from numerous previous years that entailed converting to a six hour workday with full time pay. Speaking at their convention last weekend in Gävle, other party figures had promoted the dropping of the aging party work day standard in order to attract more moderate voters from the green parties. However, leading members of the most left-leaning party that is represented in Parliament adamantly succeeded in retaining the six hour workday plank in this September's election platform. Opponents in the party's elected leadership had campaigned for focusing on other issues, still on the table, in which the Leftists call for guarantees of full time jobs, employment tenure and tailor made, paid leaves of absence for both parents. Voting delegates at the convention stood firm and raised the six hour day to the top of the Leftist Party's promises going into the 2010 general elections.

The first new potato of the year – 995 SEK a kilo.
You’re looking at it – the first new potato of the year. Potato grower Lars Grönkvist in Boarp sold these golden bumps for 995 SEK ($130) per kilo (2.2 lb) to a grocery store in Stockholm. An Internet auction was otherwise planned for the first new potatoes to come up, with half of the proceeds going to charity. But since the first potatoes have already been sold, and a price has been set, an auction seems pointless. What do they taste like then, these potatoes? “They taste divine!” Grönkvist says. He says you enjoy new potatoes best with herring and a schnapps. “And use a lot of salt in the pot and only 7-10 minutes on the stove.”

Norway best – Sweden number 4.
Hooray for Norway, they’re best in the world! At least for mothers and children. According to Save the Children’s annual mother’s index, Sweden takes fourth place. What makes Norway so good for mothers and their offspring has to do with easy and good access to healthcare for both the mother and the baby pre- and postpartum, good healthcare in general, the education of the mothers and the economy as well as a low mother- and infant mortality. Sweden has for many years come out as the winner but has now given way not only for Norway, but also for Australia and Iceland. Following Sweden on fourth place, are Denmark, New Zeeland, Finland, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany. And where is the US? Way down on the list at number 28, below Estonia, Latvia and Croatia. What drags the US down is one of the least generous maternity-leave policies in terms of duration and pay.

Art and the royal family.
The Danish Crown Prince and his wife have ordered expensive contemporary art for their new dwelling, Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen. But the Swedish royal house, what about them? They have a much lower profile, at least publicly, when it comes to art. When Crown Princess Victoria and her husband move into Haga Palace this summer, they’re moving into a home that has been renovated for 40 million SEK ($5,194,247.14). But no art has been purchased for it, according to the court. Meanwhile Danes come in droves to Amalienborg, to see what contemporary artists have done to the 18th century castle. It’s the only time the new, expressive art of Amalienborg will be shown to the public. The thought of having art like that adorn Haga or Drottningholm seem audacious, according to Aftonbladet’s cultural editor Åsa Linderborg. “One never hears them (the royal family) refer to culture at all when they express themselves. The impression you get of the princesses is that they’re just traveling and shopping.” The royal family has a delicate relationship to contemporary art. When the King and the Queen appointed artist John-Erik Franzén to paint their family portrait, he had to endure some scorn. “You never get close to these people,” he said. “The picture you get of them is heavily influenced by the media, and that is mirrored in my painting of them, there’s always a distance.” Former Swedish royals have shown greater interest in art, just look at Queen Kristina, who is credited as being the one who brought theater to Sweden in the mid 17th century, or Gustav III who founded the first opera in 1782. Even Karl XV showed an interest in art, he wrote poetry and was interested in painting. Oscar II also wrote poetry, but he cannot have much of an ear for literature; in an 1884 letter to his brother Karl XV, he dismisses August Strindberg’s poems as being “vederstyggliga” (abominable).

Queen Silvia: “I didn’t get much help”
Queen Silvia is talking about the difficulties she had in the time immediately following her and the King’s wedding in 1976. “I did the best I could,” she said in TV4’s program “Familjen Bernadotte”. The Queen was busy learning Swedish, busy finding her place in life as a queen, and trying to win the respect of the royal court. “Everything was new,” she explains. “Many times I asked for advice but often only got a ‘whatever the Queen desires’ as a response. And that wasn’t much help.” Mistress of the robes Alice Trolle-Wachtmeister was Silvia’s closest lady-in-waiting and she remembers how disrespectfully the court treated the new queen. She says: “It was a court full of men then. All decisions were taken over her head and nobody showed the kind of respect I felt one should show a wife or a queen.” Denmark’s then queen, Queen Ingrid, who has her roots in Sweden, supported Silvia. Say’s Denmark’s current queen, Margrethe, Ingrid’s daughter: “Silvia has a great sense of responsibility, and my mother recognized that quality in her right away.”