Thumbs up for Sweden’s economy
Good news – Sweden’s economy gets thumbs up. The financial situation is in good shape, at least according to a prognosis from the Swedish National Debt Office. “It looks very good, we are coming closer to budget balance,” says Bo Lundgren, director of the Debt Office. In a press release, the Debt Office writes that Sweden is approaching budget balance already this year. This is described as a surprisingly fast recovery of the Swedish economy after the financial crisis, which hit Sweden hard due to its export dependent economy. Stronger incomes from taxes and less expenses for unemployment will contribute to the stronger budget of 2010 and the positive trend is expected to continue in 2011. The National Debt Office new prognosis points towards a budget deficit of 14 billion SEK ($1,816,675,386,510.95) in 2010 and 8 billion SEK ($1,038,497,486,977.08) for 2011. This is 39 (2010) and 29 (2011) millions SEK less than in the previous prognosis. If lending is excluded, the budget is more or less in balance. The Debt Office continues in their report saying that there are clear signs that the Swedish economy has recovered faster than expected before. Many companies report higher demand and the unemployment increase is weaker than expected. But the export situation is still not safe while there are several economies in Europe, which shows signs of crisis. The Swedish national debt is expected to be 1,190 billion SEK ($154,462,456,137,239.34) in the end of 2010 and 1,178 billion SEK ($152,904,851,537,536.09) in the end of 2011. This equals to 34 and 32% of the Swedish GDP for each year. This is rather low compared to other countries. The chairman of the National Debt Office Bo Lundgren seems very satisfied in his comments of the Swedish economy: “Today Sweden is seen as a role model for many other countries.” The numbers look good that is true, but perhaps we ought to be aware of the fact that Bo Lundgren is the former chairman of the Moderate Party, which is now the leading political party in government. May Lundgren's happiness therefore be a bit exaggerated?

“Yes”, to nuclear power
After a ten hour-long debate (and a close call), the Swedish Parliament voted for the government’s proposal to lift the ban on new nuclear power. 174 voted for and 172 voted against the proposal. Two MPs, both from the Center Party (green liberal), chose to vote against their own bloc, the center-right Alliance coalition. Earlier, another two MPs considered to vote against their own government, but after some minor changes in the proposal, they stepped down. The opposition, the Red-Green coalition, has agreed that "nuclear power gradually shall be phased out with reference to employment and welfare, in the pace of when nuclear electricity could be replaced by electricity from renewable sources and energy efficiency". Tomas Eneroth, Social Democrats' industrial spokesman, promised that if opposition wins the general election in September, other parties will be invited to deliberations on a new agreement on energy policy. But Minister for the Environment, Andreas Carlgren, says that it is useless to have any discussions as long as the Red-Green have not presented their own concrete policies.

Hallström is shooting with Lena Olin
Swedish Hollywood super couple Lasse Hallström and Lena Olin haven’t worked on a film together since “Chocolat” (in 2000). But now they’re planning to get together professionally again, and this time with Richard Gere . “I’m working on a script for Lena and Richard,” says Hallström. “I have long wanted to work on a film writing both the script and directing. And now it’s close. I feel very strongly for this project. I see Richard Gere in one of the parts, as well as Pierce Brosnan in another.” The film is only in the early stages of planning. Hallström and Olin have bought a house outside Stockholm but they are no longer planning on moving back to Sweden this fall.

The Wedding: the day before the day…
Massive security surrounded Drottningholm Palace late Thursday as the sneak start of the royal wedding celebrations took place with a private party. Most of the guests were young friends of the bride and groom, including one of Victoria’s best friends, Caroline Krüger, her cousin Gustav Magnusson, and the Danish and Norwegian Crown Prince couples. Meanwhile, a debate is raging in Swedish media concerning the representatives on the guest list for the royal wedding from dictatorships like Iran and Eritrea. “It is deeply distasteful to let, for example, a representative of Eritrea, who have imprisoned Dawit Isaak (a Swedish citizen and journalist), participate," says Left Party foreign policy spokesman Hans Linde. And TV journalist Lars Adaktusson, who has made a strong commitment to the Isaak-campaign, agrees: “This is unacceptable. You become upset."