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POLITICS

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

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.

Five key points: The joint migration policy proposal from Sweden's opposition
Ulf Kristersson, Jimmie Åkesson and Ebba Busch in the parliamentary chamber last autumn. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

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.

Member comments

  1. 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.

    1. Why it would make a lot of sense to have strict rules against immigration? Could you explain?

    2. Sure in a racist mind it makes sense…

      And read the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”.

  2. Well, you probably need to start with yourself: would you allow anyone in your own house/apartment? Depending on the answer, you move on )

    1. That question alone is BS…
      Comparing a Country to your own Home…
      Typical right wing racist BS…

      1. Exactly! The next election will the the triumph of this right-wing alliance.

      2. I don’t see any connection between my question and racism. Unless you are a robot you have to explain why. And if you can’t explain “why” you should apologise.

  3. 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 )

  4. 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.

    1. 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.

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2022 SWEDISH ELECTION

What’s the Swedish Christian Democrats’ abortion contract all about?

Ebba Busch, leader of Sweden's Christian Democrats on Monday presented an "abortion contract", which she wants all of Sweden's party leaders to sign. What's going on?

What's the Swedish Christian Democrats' abortion contract all about?

What’s happened? 

Ebba Busch, leader of Sweden’s Christian Democrat party, called a press conference on Monday in which she presented a document that she called “an abortion contract”, which was essentially a pledge to safeguard the right of women in Sweden to have an abortion.  

“There is room for signatures from all eight party leaders,” she said. “I have already signed on behalf of the Christian Democrats.” 

What does the so-called “abortion contract” say? 

The document itself is fairly uncontroversial.

It states simply that Sweden’s law on abortion dates back to 1974, and that it grants women the right to an abortion up until the 18th week of pregnancy, with women seeking abortions later in their pregnancy required to get permission from the National Board of Health and Welfare. 

“Those of us who have signed this document support Sweden’s abortion legislation and promise to defend it if it comes under attack from forces both within our country and from outside,” the document reads.  

Why have the Christian Democrats produced it? 

The decision of the US Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs Wade, and so allow US states to ban abortion has aroused strong feelings in Sweden, as elsewhere, and Busch is seeking to send a strong signal to distance her own Christian party from the US religious right. 

Abortion has been a recurring issue within the Christian Democrats with several politicians and party members critical of abortion. 

Lars Adaktusson, a Christian Democrat MP, was found by the Dagens Nyheter newspaper to have voted against abortion 22 times when he was a member of the European parliament. 

The party has also in the past campaigned for the right of midwives and other medical professionals who are ethically opposed to abortion not to have to take part in the procedure. 

So why aren’t all the other party leaders signing the document? 

Sweden’s governing Social Democrats, and their Green Party allies, dismissed the contract as a political gimmick designed to help the Christian Democrats distance themselves from elements of their own party critical of abortion. 

“It would perhaps be good if Ebba Busch did some homework within her own party to check that there’s 100 percent support for Sweden’s abortion legislation,” Magdalena Andersson, Sweden’s prime minister, said. “That feels like a more important measure than writing contracts between party leaders and trying to solve it that way.”  

In a debate on Swedish television, Green Party leader Märta Stenevi argued that it would be much more significant if Busch’s own MPs and MEPs all signed the document. 

It wasn’t other party leaders who needed to show commitment to abortion legislation, but “her own MPs, MEPs, and not least her proposed government partners in the Sweden Democrats and even some within the Moderate Party”. 

She said it made her “very very worried” to see that the Christian Democrats needed such a contract. “That’s why I see all this more as a clear sign that we need to move forward with protecting the right to abortion in the constitution,” she said. 

How have the other right-wing parties reacted? 

The other right-wing parties have largely backed Busch, although it’s unclear if any other party leaders are willing to actually sign the document. 

Tobias Billström, the Moderates’ group parliamentary leader, retweeted a tweet from Johan Paccamonti, a Stockholm regional politician with the Moderate Party, which criticised the Social Democrats for not signing it, however. 

“It seems to be more important to blow up a pretend conflict than to sign the Christian Democrats’ contract or look at the issue of [including abortion rights in] the constitution, like the Moderates, Liberals and Centre Party want to,” Paccamonti wrote. 

The Liberal Party on Sunday proposed protecting abortion rights in the Swedish constitution, a proposal which has since been backed by the Moderate party and the Centre Party

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