“We have seen the trend moving in this direction over a long period of time. The Swedish people are getting more urban and most are highly educated, which breeds more tolerance,” Marie Demker of University of Gothenburg told The Local.
According to the figures, the number of Swedes who are of the opinion that Sweden should receive less refugees decreased in 2010 from 46 percent to 42 percent.
At the same time the number of people who think that Sweden should receive more refugee immigrants increased to 30 percent.
Both these figures are the most favourable since the polls were first begun in the 1990s.
Paradoxically, the data in the study was collected in 2010, the same year that the far-right Sweden Democrats successfully campaigned on an openly anti-immigrant platform, gaining representation in the Riksdag for the first time with 5.7 percent of the vote.
“There is always going to be a small group of people who want the Swedish culture to stay unmixed, and is the first time that they have a party to mobilise them,” Demker said.
She thinks that the Sweden Democrats have gone from being a party openly condemning Sweden’s policy on immigration to becoming one that takes a critical stance towards it.
The party has calmed down and worked on their organisation and are likely to maintain their presence on the political map of Sweden, according to Demker.
Whether the Sweden Democrats will be able to mobilise new voters is another matter and depends in part on Sweden’s other political parties, as well as how good the party is at pursuing questions that may sway voters over to their side.
Despite the increase in the number of Swedes positive toward refugee immigration, the figures from the SOM-Institute nevertheless reveal that a majority of Swedes remain cool toward the idea of accepting more refugees.
But according to Demker the shift towards a more positive outlook on immigration is a long term development. And Swedes in general are more positive to immigration and less xenophobic than many other countries.
“Even those who are answering in the negative may be having concerns regarding political problems, such as immigrants on the Swedish labour market or segregated housing areas, rather than a xenophobic outlook,” said Demker.
Demker thinks that this positive attitude towards immigration and refugees will continue to develop, although she is aware it must plateau at some point.
“But Sweden isn’t becoming less cosmopolitan and globally connected. And as long as we don’t face any wars or natural disasters I can’t see it changing in the opposite direction,” she said.
The survey was carried out by the SOM-Institute at Gothenburg University and 5,000 Swedes took part.