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POLITICS

Social Democrat leader backs Sweden’s harsh new immigration policies

The leader of Sweden's Social Democrat opposition has backed the harsh new policies on crime and immigration included in the new government's programme, and even signalled openness to the much-criticised begging ban.

Social Democrat leader backs Sweden's harsh new immigration policies
Magdalena Andersson speaks in parliament on Wednesday. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

In an interview with the Expressen newspaper, Magdalena Andersson said her party was absolutely agreed on the need for a stricter immigration policy for Sweden, going so far as to take credit for the Social Democrats for the illiberal shift. 

“There is absolutely no question that need a strict set of migration laws,” she told the Expressen newspaper, rejecting the claims of Sweden Democrat Jimmie Åkesson that the government’s new program represented a “paradigm shift in migration policy”. 

“The paradigm shift happened in 2015, and it was us who carried it out,” she said. “The big rearrangement of migration policy was carried out by us Social Democrats after the refugee crisis of 2015, with a thoroughgoing tightening up of the policy.” 

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She said that her party would wait and see what “concrete proposals” the new government ended up making, but she said the Social Democrats were not in principle against even the new government’s most criticised proposal: to slash the number of UN quota refugees from around 5,000 to 900. 

“That’s something we are going to look at,” she said. “It’s been at different levels at different points of time in Sweden.” 

Rather than criticise the new government for being too extreme on migration, Andersson even attacked it for not being willing to go far enough. 

The Social Democrats’ plan to tighten up labour market migration by bringing back the system of labour market testing, she said, was stricter than the plan to increase the salary threshold proposed by Ulf Kristersson’s new government.  

When it comes to the new government’s plans to bring in much tougher punishments for a string of crimes, Andersson criticised the new government for not moving fast enough. 

“What I think is important here is that there are a completed proposals for new laws already on the table which need to be put into effect,” she said. 

She also said she was not opposed to plans for a national ban on begging. 

“We Social Democrats believe that people should have the possibility to get educated, and work so they can support themselves,” she said. “That’s something we’ve believed in all along. You shouldn’t need to stand there holding your cap in your hand.” 

“It’s already possible to bring in a ban in certain municipalities today,” she continued. “So the question is really whether this should be regulated at a national or a local level. We did not decide at out national congress that it should be regulated at a national level, but when the inquiry publishes its conclusions, we will assess the advantages and disadvantages and decide on whether we will keep our position or change.” 

Where she was critical of the new government was in its failure to discuss how it would increase the budgets for municipalities and regional governments, who she said face being forced to drive through savage cuts in real spending to schools, healthcare and elderly care if they were not prioritised in the coming budget. 

“But that’s such a tiny part of this slottsavtal (“Mansion agreement”), and the government’s policy programme suggests they’ve missed something that should really be in focus for the government,” she said, warning that citizens should be braced for dramatic fall in the quality of welfare in the coming years. 

She said her party would also campaign against the new government’s plans to scrap Sweden’s goal of spending one percent of GDP on aid, and also against the new government’s plans to make it harder to build wind energy projects. 

Member comments

  1. Not sure nothing was really done by the Socia Democrats in terms of migration if anything things got worse. Doesn’t feel like an accurate statement at all by the leader of the party. Only now that there is a shake of the migration policy is anything planned to happened. Feels a little bit like the SD party are trying to get credit for doing nothing in this respect and trying to make themselves look like they did something after they lost power. From 2015 they achieved nothing in terms of migration policy and tightening up the rules for people who took advantage of the open arms of Sweden. Some refugees repaid Sweden’s kindness by committing crimes, gangland warfare and acts of terrorism. Sweden deserved and deserves better for being as welcoming as they have been as a nation. Sadly some migrants abused and disrespected that. For those people they should be thrown out of Sweden.

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POLITICS

Swedish government offers tax deferral to businesses

High energy prices and high inflation are hitting Sweden's businesses hard. With energy price subsidies for these consumers delayed, the government is now extending existing tax deferral schemes implemented during the pandemic to ease the pressure.

Swedish government offers tax deferral to businesses

Finance Minister Elisabeth Svantesson and Energy and Business Minister Ebba Busch announced the scheme at a press conference on Thursday.

“Many, many companies are now struggling with their liquidity,” Svantesson said.

The deferral scheme is similar to that proposed by the previous government in order to ease the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on companies, which was due to run out in February. The government has now proposed extending this scheme, allowing companies to delay their tax payments.

“These proposals will make things easier for many businesses,” Svantesson said.

The tax deferral scheme is not, Busch explained, being introduced as a replacement for the energy price subsidy for businesses which was supposed to be paid out “before Christmas” and which has now been withdrawn temporarily while the government figures out how it can be introduced without breaking EU law.

“No, rather this is a measure we’ve been looking at for a while, which should be seen as a complement,” she said.

According to rough estimates, the government believes that around 12,000 companies will apply for tax deferral, which would mean around 16 billion kronor in tax payments being delayed until a later date.

Företagarna, Sweden’s largest organisation of business owners representing around 60,000 companies across different branches, has welcomed the move, despite also voicing criticism that it’s just pushing these problems further into the future.

“It’s a loan and all loans need to be paid back over time,” Företagarna’s CEO Günther Mårder said.

Företagarna did, however, agree that the scheme will be necessary for some businesses to survive.

“Most companies going under are doing so because of liquidity problems, and this new measure will strengthen liquidity in the short-term,” Mårder said, adding that the measure could “save businesses”.

However, with many businesses already owing back taxes delayed during the pandemic, Mårder believes this could just be adding to the mountain of debt already faced by some companies.

“It means it will be record-breakingly difficult to get over this hump,” he said. “What they’re doing now is pushing problems into the future, and of course, that’s also a solution.”

The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise is positive towards the government’s proposal, adding that the many Swedish companies are currently in a difficult situation.

“Since the repayment of bottleneck revenues [energy price subsidies] is delayed, it is good and fair that companies have the opportunity to extend their tax deferrals,” Jonas Frycklund, vice chief finance officer of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise wrote in a statement.

“This will lower the risk of having to let employees go unnecessarily.”

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