Swedes are much more positive towards immigration than the citizens of any other country in the European Union, according to figures from the latest Eurobarometer survey.
No fewer than 72 percent of Swedes said they were either fairly positive or very positive towards immigration from countries outside the European Union, with an even greater 82 percent welcoming immigrants from other EU countries.
No other country came anywhere close, with only 48 percent of the citizens of the next most open countries, Croatia and Spain, saying they felt positive to immigrants from outside the EU.
On average, a solid majority of 57 percent of European citizens described themselves as either fairly or very negative to immigration from outside the EU, with just 35 percent in favour.
“We are used to high levels of immigration and see the positive effects of it,” Marie Demker, a politics professor at Gothenburg University told TT. “Asylum and immigration policy has never been a major contentious issue in Swedish politics, which again may explain Swedes' positive attitude.”
She said that the figures could help assuage the worries many Swedes feel about the recent election success of the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats, which won nearly 13 percent of the vote in September's general election.
"Racism and xenophobia are modes of thought and ideas which Swedes are unhappy with and afraid of as phenomena," she said.
Latvia was the least welcoming country, with only 16 percent of citizens describing themselves as positive to immigrants from outside the European Union, followed by Italy, where only 18 percent of citizens welcomed non-EU immigrants.