“I consider several of the comments to be inappropriate,” Schlingman wrote in a letter to local Moderate politicians across the country.
The Moderate party hierarchy has acted in response to comments from Skåne party chairperson and Vellinge county counsellor Lars-Ingvar Ljungman.
Ljungman was critical of the decision by Malmö County Council to use a former youth hostel in Hököpinge to house around 30 young boys from Afghanistan and Somalia saying that Vellinge had been unfairly overruled.
Ljungman vowed to find ways to close down the hostel before the refugee children’s arrival.
His position attracted media attention to the general issue of Swedish municipalities freedom to decide over how many refugees to take into their care and to Vellinge County Council’s refugee policy in particular.
Ljungman’s comments have also sparked conflict within the Moderate party in Skåne with vice-chairperson, Pia Kinhult, distancing herself from her Vellinge colleague.
“The Skåne Moderates and I dissociate ourselves from the statements and the policy pursued by the Vellinge Moderates. I talk for a majority within the Skåne Moderates, but obviously not for our chairperson,” Kinhult from Ängelholm told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.
The Swedish migration minister Tobias Billström told news agency TT that he was tired of discussing Vellinge specifically and would like instead to consider the bigger picture.
“I have no different view than that of my party colleagues in Skåne: More councils have to agree to receive refugee children, and Vellinge council, just like all the other municipalities, should sign agreements with the Migration Board (Migrationsverket), because they have the capacity and knowledge to do so,” he said.
Billström underlined that it is up to Malmö and Vellinge to find a resolution to the problem and warned of the consequences for the system if county councils do not take a greater responsibility.
“The main focus needs to be that if nothing happens now, with regard to the number of municipal places, then the system which we have today will collapse at some point in the middle of December, with or without Vellinge.”
Vellinge County is a municipality in the south-western tip of Sweden and is home to 32,270 people. It is considered to be one of the most economically prosperous parts of the country and enjoys one of the lowest levels of income tax.
According to Migration Board statistics for the period up to and including September 2009 Vellinge is the only county council in Skåne that has not accepted a single refugee.