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Rising fears about integration in Sweden

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Asylum seekers in northern Sweden in January 2015. Photo: TT
08:51 CET+01:00
More than 60 percent of Swedes believe that immigration is good for Sweden, but a new poll suggests growing concerns about integration in the country.

While a clear majority of Swedes support their country's open immigration policy, just 10 percent agree that integration efforts are working well, according to the survey by pollsters Ipsos commissioned by Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter.

"The results should serve as a lesson for our politicians. Swedish people give a clear disapproval of how integration works,” David Ahlin, Head of Research at Ipsos told the newspaper.
 
Criticism of integration policies came from across bloc boundaries.
 
Among centre-right voters who support the four Alliance parties that formed Fredrik Reinfeldt’s previous coalition government, 66 percent said that these efforts were working poorly.
 
54 percent of those who back Sweden’s left wing and green parties offered criticism.
 
Unsurprisingly, supporters of the nationalist Sweden Democrats were the least supportive of integration efforts, with 85 percent slamming current policies.

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"Most Swedes agree - across party lines, generations, in all parts of Sweden, different levels of education and so on. It seems that there is a fairly broad consensus,” noted Ahlin.

The most common complaint among respondents was that immigrants in Sweden can end up segregated or isolated from other Swedes, due to problems with housing, jobs and education. 

Those polled also cited growing racism and xenophobia as a key issue as well as slow processing times for paperwork linked to migration.

But despite these concerns, the report’s authors argued that Swedes should still be proud of their open borders.

"We have long been an immigration country and it has been of major importance for society. The results confirm what other studies have shown. For example, Eurobarometer, which shows that Swedes are the most positive nation about immigration in the EU", said Ahlin.

There has been a growing debate about integration and immigration since Sweden’s last general election in September 2014, when the nationalist Sweden Democrats (SD) became the third largest party in parliament. The group is the only political party in openly in favour of cutting immigration to Sweden. 

Since the SD’s success at the polls, discussions about integration have become more commonplace in the Swedish media and political sphere, with signs that other parties starting to review their own policies.

Sweden has a global reputation for peace and tolerance and currently takes in more asylum seekers per capita than any other European country, with 81,000 arriving in 2014.

In January, a separate survey by Ipsos suggested that immigration and integration were the biggest concerns for Swedish voters, after education.

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