Swedish PM seeks to cut inflow of foreign workers

Sweden's prime minister wants to curb labour migration to the Scandinavian country to provide more jobs for its own unemployed, including refugees accepted in recent years.

Swedish PM seeks to cut inflow of foreign workers
Swedish prime minister Stefan Löfven. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

“Jobs that require little or no education will first be filled by the unemployed who are already in our country,” Social Democratic leader Stefan Löfven told reporters in Stockholm.

A country of almost ten million people, Sweden took in 244,000 asylum seekers in 2014 and 2015, the highest number per capita in Europe. Figures have since dropped to fewer than 30,000 in 2016, following tighter borders and asylum rules.

“It's unreasonable for us to have a labour migration that consists of dishwashers (and) restaurant employees when we have capable people who have arrived here as refugees,” Löfven added.

“The first thing we will do is to emphasize that everyone who can work will work,” the 59-year-old leader said as he presented the Social Democrats' programme for its party congress in April when it will lay the foundations for its 2018 election campaign.

Löfven said there were 100,000 jobs available in Sweden and some 300,000 jobless workers.

Around four percent of people in Sweden aged 15-29 were either unemployed or not attending school in 2016, according to Statistics Sweden.

The country granted work permits to more than 12,000 people from countries outside the EU in 2016.

This figure includes around 4,000 unskilled labourers such as cleaners, chefs, waiters and waitresses and mechanics, according to the Swedish migration board.

The Social Democrats run a minority government with the Green Party, which opposes the plan, making it unlikely for Sweden to restrict labour migration before the September 2018 election.

“If the Greens choose to dig their heels in and fight then there'll be a government crisis,” Jonas Hinnfors, a political science professor at the University of Gothenburg, told AFP.

“It's more likely that this will be a (Social Democratic) election promise instead of forcing the Greens to agree,” he said.

The Social Democrats have traditionally had a large working class voter base, and Löfven's comments were seen as an attempt to win over voters fleeing to the anti-immigration far-right Sweden Democrats.

According to a poll conducted between January 23rd and February 19th by public broadcaster SVT, the Sweden Democrats were the third-largest party behind the Social Democrats and the opposition conservative Moderates.

Article written by AFP


Sweden’s right-wing parties agree to bring back Norlén as Speaker 

The four parties backing Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson as prime minister on Sunday announced that they had agreed to keep the current Speaker, Andreas Norlén in place, when the role is put to a vote as parliament opens on Monday.

Sweden's right-wing parties agree to bring back Norlén as Speaker 

The parties won a three-seat majority over the bloc led by the incumbent Social Democrats in Sweden’s general election on September 11th, and are currently in the middle of negotiating how they will form Sweden’s next government. 

Sweden’s parliament meets at 11am for the official installation of the 349 MPs for this mandate period. The votes for the Speaker and three Deputy Speakers are the first item on the agenda, after which the parties each select their parliamentary leaders and then vote on who should chair each of the parliamentary committees. 

READ ALSO: What happens next as parliament reopens? 

In a joint press release announcing the decision, the parties also agreed that the Sweden Democrats would be given eight of the 16 chairmanships the bloc will have of parliamentary committees in the next parliament, and that MPs for all four parties would back Julia Kronlid, the Sweden Democrats’ Second Deputy Leader, as the second deputy Speaker, serving under Norlén. 

In the press release, the parties said that Norlén had over the last four years shown that he has “the necessary personal qualities and qualifications which the role requires”. 

The decision to retain Norlén, who presided over the 134 days of talks and parliamentary votes that led to the January Agreement in 2019, was praised by Social Democrat leader Magdalena Andersson. 

Norlén, she said in a statement, had “managed his responsibilities well over the past four years and been a good representative of Sweden’s Riksdag.” 

The decision to appoint Kronlid was opposed by both the Left Party and the Green Party, who said that she supported tightening abortion legislation, and did not believe in evolution.

The Green Party’s joint leader Märta Stenevi said that her party “did not have confidence in Julia Kronlid”, pointing to an interview she gave in 2014 when she said she did not believe that humans were descended from apes.

The party has proposed its finance spokesperson Janine Alm Ericson as a rival candidate. 

The Left Party said it was planning to vote for the Centre Party’s candidate for the post second deputy Speaker in the hope of blocking Kronlid as a candidate.