Swedish boys are nicer
Santa was busy in Sweden this year, because there are a lot of nice Swedish children, especially the boys. A new study from Högskolan Väst shows that Swedish boys are at the bottom of the list when it comes to physical and emotional aggression among boys. Högskolan Väst leads an international study in which 100 children ages 7 to 10 have been interviewed. The children come from nine countries: Colombia, Philippines, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, China, Sweden, Thailand and the U.S. In all countries boys were more violent than girls, but in a comparison with the boys in the other eight countries, the Swedish were the nicest. “The larger portion of the children (76 percent) had not exposed another child for either physical or non-physical aggression,” says Emma Sorbring, university teacher in psychology at Högskolan Väst. “One possible explanation for Swedish children being nicer might be that we in Sweden are advanced when it comes to gender equality compared to many of the other countries.” The children in the study were culled from different environments and social classes. The next step now is to take a closer look at parenting in the countries. “That’s the overall objective with this work,” says Sorbring. The study is part of a major international research project on children and parents, running from 2008 to 2016.

'Hen' in court
The gender neutral word “hen” (used in lieu of 'hon'=she and 'han'=he in Sweden) is up in court. The controversial word was recently used by officials working on a particular case in northern Sweden. That means the pronoun now has a legal legitimacy. “It’s not a political statement and we’re not trying to be politically correct. We thought we need a personal pronoun for third person singular, which is gender neutral and can be used when you talk about people in general rather than a specific person,” says Judge of Appeal Hans Sundberg. The word “hen” can be traced as far back as the 1960s, when author Jesper Lundqvist wrote a book where he repeatedly used the gender-neutral pronoun. The use of “hen” has led to a debate in Sweden and opinions about it vary; today it is primarily used by people who don’t feel comfortable with the traditional gender division.

The rise and fall of Gnosjo?
Remember 'the Gnosjoe Spirit'? It used to be, and still probably is, an important element in Swedish culture, especially in and around the Gnosjö region where the term, “Gnosjöandan” was born (Gnosjö is located in Småland). The region has been successful in small business, and the expression Gnosjöandan is characterized by enterprise, informal networks and small, thriving businesses. Well, that’s more “was” than “is.” It doesn’t look too good for Gnosjö at the moment. Unemployment is hitting the municipality hard and taxes might have to be raised in order to help those in need. “It’s very worrisome,” says local commissioner Arne Ottosson. Municipal payments to the needy have more than doubled since 2008.

New proposal from the Center Party
Centerpartiet (the Center Party) wants to become Sweden's most liberal party, and now they are gunning for flatter taxes, free immigration, no compulsory school, and a sort of United States of Sweden. The most liberal party? “That would be an accurate description of us today,” says Per Ankersjö, chairman of the group in the party who is behind these new ideas. Ankersjö presented the new proposal from the Center Party today. One main principle in the proposal is the generous decentralization; regions are to be allowed to pass their own laws and take out local taxes, for instance for natural resources. “We suggest a federalization of Sweden. All answers are not to be found in Stockholm,” continues Ankersjö. Another big change, compared to the Center Party program from 2001, is the proposal of free immigration. According to the group it is necessary, since there’s a lack of manpower in many parts of the country, and also people are needed for the work “that Swedes don’t want to take”. “I think foremost of different jobs in the service sector,” Ankersjö says. When it comes to flat taxes, what that means is that the Center Party thinks everyone should pay the same percentage in taxes. No compulsory school means that the party wants to introduce compulsory education instead (“läroplikt”) where the parents are legally responsible in making sure their children receive adequate education. “We want to cause a real discussion around the values of the Center Party, both inside and outside the party lines,” says Ankersjö who doesn’t try to conceal that these proposals are causing a debate. According to political scientist Jonas Hinnfors, the program means that the party chooses to stay on the liberal path that Maud Olofsson (former leader of the Center Party) chose ten years ago – whether it will go down well with voters or not, remains to be seen. “Calling yourself liberal is not some ‘quick fix’,” Hinnfors says. “There’s already a party that calls itself liberal, and that’s Folkpartiet (the Liberal People’s Party) and they are doing very poorly.” Current Center Leader Annie Lööf will read the proposal over the Christmas holidays, and mid-February a decision will be made.

Disney cuts for Christmas
Two short scenes were cut from the traditional 'Kalle Ankas och hans vänner önskar God Jul' ('From All of Us to All of You'), which is shown every Christmas in Sweden. The first scene is that of a black doll in Santa’s workshop, the second one is a scene with an older bearded man, which might be viewed as a stereotype for Jews. “We were told that Disney had cut these sequences,” says Stephen Mowbray, head buyer at SVT (Swedish Television). “They deliver this program every Christmas to 40 countries and when asked, said they wanted to adjust Donald Duck’s Christmas from the 1930’s to the 21st century and other parts of the world.” Mowbray says that he accepts it and that it is OK. The cut-out scenes have also been discussed by the SVT management. However, our neighbors the Danes aren’t reacting the same way. “We take responsibility for what we can show in the program,” says Jakob Stegelmann, editor at DR (Danish Broadcasting Corporation) to daily Politiken. He refuses to accept the new version. “If Disney tells us we cannot show the original version, then we will take the fight.” However, according to Linda Andersson, marketing director at Disney in Scandinavia, the original version of “From All of Us to All of You” isn’t sent anywhere in the world today. “It hasn’t been shown for a long time, it has changed over time.”