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.