Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven takes questions from the media after Sweden's parliamentary question time. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT
UPDATED: Sweden’s centre-right opposition has reported Prime Minister Stefan Löfven to a parliamentary scrutiny committee over his government’s failure to take rapid action when authorities were overwhelmed by last year’s refugee crisis.
In the notification, reported to parliament on Friday morning, the centre-left government is accused of failing to respond to an alarm signal from the city of Malmö in August, warnings giving to foreign minister Margot Wallström in September, and continual police complaints that the situation was spinning out of control.
“We felt that no one stepped forward and took responsibility,” Jessica Polfjärd, who leads the centre-right Moderates in the Swedish parliament, told DN newspaper
. “The person ultimately responsible is the Prime Minister.”
Sweden's ruling Social Democrat-Green coalition in mid-November introduced a sudden tightening of asylum and border policies after a month when the country was receiving at times more than 10,000 new asylum registrations a week, completely overwhelming the authorities. The number arriving has since fallen to just 776 a week.
The inquiries will be carried out by the parliament’s Constitutional Committee (KU) – which is responsible for checking that Swedish governments follow regulations for government work.
“Because the government has the ultimate responsibility for emergency management, we feel that there are issues we need to get to the bottom of so we can tell the Swedish people why there have been delays. Despite having received information on the emergency situation, the government has chosen not to act at once,” Polfjärd said.
Polfjärd said that the government had taken up to three months to respond to concrete information from various authorities that they were becoming overwhelmed.
“Look, for example, at the housing situation, where the government, and even the Prime Minister, were well aware that there was an emergency situation which meant that people had to sleep on the street in Malmö,” she said.
“But the most serious thing is in the big picture. We were facing one of Sweden’s most difficult crisis situations but felt that no one stepped forward and took responsibility.”
As well as the prime minister, the notification mentions interior minister Anders Ygeman and foreign minister Margot Wallström.
On Friday, Hans Hoff, a Social Democrat MP, responded by promptly reporting former centre-right Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt of the Moderate Party to the committee. He referred to a speech Reinfeldt had given in the summer of 2014 in which he highlighted that the number of asylum claims had risen.
"It is thus well known that the previous government did not take sufficient steps to cope with the sharp increase in asylum reception during the years 2013 and 2014," he said.