“We need to keep track of the population in Sweden,” centre-left Social Democrat leader Löfven told the first party leader debate of the parliamentary season on Wednesday. But he added that the issue would have to be thoroughly investigated before deciding to carry out the census, which would be the first one since 1990.
Ulf Kristersson, leader of conservative opposition party the Moderates, who raised the issue in the debate, said that up to 200,000 people may be registered as living at the wrong address.
Sweden keeps a population register (folkbokföring) of all residents in the country, but it is up to each individual to report their new address to the registry when they move, and it does not always happen.
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These gaps may be down to a large variety of reasons, ranging from negligence to criminality.
They could include for example university students who remain registered at their parental home despite moving home during term time, residents who move abroad and never unregister with Swedish authorities, or criminal networks taking advantage of the system to be able to operate under the radar.
“This leads to crowded housing and benefit fraud, and it opens the door to criminals with double identities,” Kristersson told parliament, urging the Social Democrats to support a new legislative proposal for a census, which his party plans to put forward to the parliament's taxation committee.