Politics For Members

Election Q&A: Do you want Swedish tests for would-be citizens?

Emma Löfgren
Emma Löfgren - [email protected]
Election Q&A: Do you want Swedish tests for would-be citizens?
We asked the parties how they want to improve SFI teaching, and if it should be compulsory to learn Swedish. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

The Local asked Sweden's eight parties to answer a number of questions relevant to internationals living and working in Sweden.


We asked the parties in the Swedish parliament: Does your party want Swedish tests for new citizens and how do you plan to improve the standard of Swedish For Immigrants (SFI) education across the country?

Click here to read more questions and answers that matter to YOU.

The Social Democrat Party

"We want more SFI teaching hours and more individualized teaching, so that students who learn faster get better support. It should be possible to a greater extent to combine SFI with work and internships. We have ordered a large state-run inquiry, which is to propose ways of improving SFI by February 2019. The Social Democrats do not propose to introduce a Swedish test as a citizenship requirement."

The Social Democrats are Sweden's biggest party and part of the centre-left coalition government. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

The Moderate Party

"The Swedish language is the key to Swedish society – to work, social mobility and understanding of our institutions. The Moderates want to introduce requirements for basic language skills in order to obtain permanent residency and citizenship. SFI education needs to be strengthened and a new arrival should meet individual learning targets in order to receive various benefits, for example the introduction benefit (etableringsersättning) that many new arrivals receive during their first two years in Sweden."

The Moderates are Sweden's second-biggest party and part of the right-wing bloc. Photo: Stina Stjernkvist/TT

The Sweden Democrat Party

"Yes, as far as the Sweden Democrats are concerned it is a matter of course that good knowledge of the Swedish language should be a prerequisite to obtain citizenship. The need for SFI has increased exponentially due to the migration crisis, and this has often meant that the level of quality could not be maintained. A strict migration policy will improve the conditions for providing a quality service for those who have the right to be in Sweden. It is also important that SFI is adapted to the ability of the individual. Skilled labour immigrants often have different needs to an asylum seeker who never sat on a school bench. At the same time, higher demands for results must also be placed on the latter group."

The Sweden Democrats are Sweden's third biggest party and run on an anti-immigration platform. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

The Green Party

"No. Learning to speak Swedish is an important aspect of becoming part of Swedish society but the Green Party does not want to reduce citizenship to a matter of language skills.

During our time in government we've individualized the study plans for SFI and extended the possibility of studying work related Swedish. To further improve the standard of SFI we've instituted an inquiry to, among other things, see how SFI better could be combined with other studies. Students of SFI should also be grouped with students of similar educational backgrounds so that they can advance their learning at a pace suitable to their educational level and ease of learning."

The Green Party is part of Sweden's centre-left coalition government. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

The Centre Party

"The quality of Swedish for foreigners (SFI) is insufficient. A large part of those who take SFI classes don’t learn Swedish and the teaching is often poorly adapted and of varying quality. At the same time, some private and non-profit educational organizers have proven successful in teaching Swedish. But today, those taking part in SFI programmes don’t have the option of choosing other courses than those offered by the municipalities, or that the municipalities have procured. By opening up competition between new educational providers, the quality of SFI can be improved."

"We propose the introduction of a results-based 'SFI check' (SFI-peng). Everyone who meets certain criteria will be given the opportunity to offer SFI classes. Those who want to learn Swedish are then given the opportunity to choose where they want to study, and the provider gets paid based on the results."

The Centre Party is part of the centre-right bloc in parliament. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

The Left Party

"The Left Party is against introducing language tests for citizenship. We want to improve the quality of SFI by making SFI teachers more equipped to do a good job. That's whey we want to develop new SFI teacher training. We also want to develop a new form of education to meet the need for SFI teachers, while working against the profit interest in SFI that means that resources go to corporate profits rather than to the service."

The Left Party is part of the left-wing bloc in parliament. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

The Liberal Party 

"Yes, we want to introduce a language test for Swedish citizenship. SFI enrolment needs to increase, but it is not enough to simply attend and sit out the time in the classroom. There is a need for increased focus on results. We therefore want to introduce a control station after 52 weeks of SFI studies. If you have only achieved limited results, you should instead get into work or an internship. It is much better to be in a context where you practise your Swedish on a daily basis instead of sitting in the classroom without results."

The Liberals are part of the centre-right bloc in parliament. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

The Christian Democrat Party 

"No, the Christian Democrats have not proposed that you need to take a language test to become a citizen. It is important that SFI classes are adapted to the person taking them. A person who has a lot of schooling behind them should be able to advance faster than a person who lacks the experience of studying, or even the ability to read and write. We want to work for a range of SFI providers throughout the country so that there are alternatives locally and so that people are not restricted to one single actor within a monopoly."

The Christian Democrats are part of the right-wing bloc in parliament. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT


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