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Five key points: The joint migration policy proposal from Sweden's opposition

Catherine Edwards
Catherine Edwards - [email protected]
Five key points: The joint migration policy proposal from Sweden's opposition
STOCKHOLM 20200909 Ebba Busch (KD) lämnar talarstolen vid riksdagsårets första partiledardebatt i riksdagen. Ulf Kristersson (M) och Jimmie Åkesson (SD) i sina bänkar. Foto: Henrik Montgomery / TT / 10060

Four of Sweden's opposition parties have put forward a joint migration policy proposal, taking a harder line than the government's own proposed bill.


What's happened?

Sweden's government has put forward a bill that would mean an overhaul of migration policy.

Now four opposition parties – the Moderate Party, Christian Democrats, Liberal Party, and Sweden Democrats – have put forward their own proposals, which set out a stricter migration policy.

This is the first proposal to be signed jointly by the four parties, which all fall on the right of the political spectrum.

The Moderates and Christian Democrats are close political allies to the right of the political spectrum. Before 2020, they were part of a four-party Alliance with the Liberal Party as well as the Centre Party, who are not involved in the new proposal. Disagreements over what degree of cooperation with the Sweden Democrats was acceptable was the reason the Alliance broke down, so this new agreement is a sign of the increasing tolerance from right-of-centre parties towards the Sweden Democrats.


What are the proposals?

The proposals are a reaction to the migration bill put forward by the Social Democrat-Green government, which these four parties do not think goes far enough.

Under the proposals, a new basis for residence permits on "humanitarian grounds" would be limited, and would not apply to adults who have previously lived in Sweden with a residence permit and during that time developed a close connection to Sweden.

The four parties also want language requirements for permanent residence permits to be stricter than the government has set out, and included explicitly in legislation. They also want to put tighter limits on residence permits for relatives of people living in Sweden, including limiting exceptions to the so-called maintenance requirement (under which the family member already in Sweden must prove they have sufficient accommodation and income to support the relative applying for a permit).


What does it mean for migration policy? 

Well, it puts some pressure on the government, now that four opposition parties have joined together behind the competing proposals. Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, in comments to TT, said the proposals showed Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson was pulling the strings. Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson and Liberal leader Nyamko Sabuni denied this, with Sabuni saying the new proposals are based on a previous Liberal Party motion.

But the most likely outcome, most political commenters believe, is still that the government's proposals would be passed.

The four parties behind the new proposals would currently be two seats short of a parliamentary majority. Meanwhile, it is likely that the centre-left government will be able to rely on support from the Left and Centre parties to get a majority in favour of its own bill -- despite the Left Party criticising it as too restrictive.

L-R: Ulf Kristersson (Photo: Fredrik Persson/TT), Jimmie Åkesson (Photo: Jessica Gow/TT), Nyamko Sabuni (Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT) and Ebba Busch (Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT).

What does it mean for Swedish politics?

It is the latest step in the normalisation of the Sweden Democrats. Christian Democrat leader Ebba Busch, as well as Kristersson, have said that more joint proposals are on the cards, on issues such as law and order, healthcare, or nuclear energy. But the party leaders have denied that this was the start of a conservative bloc.

In Sunday's televised party leaders' debate, it was clear that there are still significant differences between the parties' stances, with Liberal leader Nyamko Sabuni and Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkeson in particular going head-to-head.

Åkesson said he was not satisfied by the proposal and wanted a stricter migration policy, while Sabuni accused him of intolerance – at the same time asking her former ally, Centre Party leader Annie Lööf, if her intention was to "let the whole world in to Sweden".

The traditional centre-right bloc of the Moderate, Christian Democrat, Liberal and Centre parties does not come close to building a majority, and based on current poll numbers, their best chance of getting into government is accepting cooperation with the Sweden Democrats.

However, the Centre Party has so far refused to accept this, instead cooperating with the centre-left government on policy issues, and strongly criticising the latest migration proposals.

What happens now?

Sweden needs to put forward a new migration law when its temporary migration policy, introduced in 2016 in response to the previous year's increase in asylum seekers, expires this summer.

A parliamentary Migration Committee was set up to work out a new migration policy for Sweden, and it presented an over 600-page report last year. The Social Democrat-Green government then together a draft bill based on the proposal.

The opposition's proposals will first be voted on in parliament's Social Insurance Committee, where Moderate Leader Ulf Kristersson believes they will get a majority of votes, and then they would also be put to parliament.

The government's proposals will also go to a parliamentary vote, and if passed, will become reality on July 20th, 2021.


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
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suresh7719 2021/05/12 07:34
Blind immigration policies of leftists led to this volatile situation. It’s natural that people want a stricter control on this. I am also an immigrant, but really pained to see how this once peaceful country is being hammered everyday by fringe groups.
  • lan17481 2021/05/13 11:44
    Agree with you, suresh7719. It's really painful for me to see this country is being destroyed by the nasty Right-wing parties. The stupidity is that those who votes for the Right and the Sweden Democrats believe that their life will be "better" when foreigners, adding up to 2 millions of the Swedish population, are out.
kiran.auengg 2021/05/08 23:35
natby2003 2021/05/05 09:20
Well, you probably need to ask the same question to yourself: do you agree to allow anyone to share your own house/apartment. And depending on the answer, you move on to a bigger picture )
natby2003 2021/05/05 09:15
Well, you probably need to start with yourself: would you allow anyone in your own house/apartment? Depending on the answer, you move on )
  • mgoldhand 2021/05/07 14:18
    That question alone is BS... Comparing a Country to your own Home... Typical right wing racist BS...
GeoffHall121 2021/05/04 10:23
Let's be honest, I agree with the four parties alternative plans. If I read correctly elsewhere, the Danes have quite strict rules and I think the rest of Europe should have them, too; stricter ground rules for allowing anyone into the country and even stricter rules to allow them to stay. It makes a lot of sense.
  • mgoldhand 2021/05/07 14:21
    Sure in a racist mind it makes sense... And read the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights".
  • lan17481 2021/05/04 13:53
    Why it would make a lot of sense to have strict rules against immigration? Could you explain?

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