Nearly six out of ten Swedes want Sweden to change its laws and regulations to receive fewer refugees than today, a recent survey by the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet and pollster Sifo has found.
When asked "What should Sweden's refugee reception in terms of residence permits for refugees and their relatives look like in the future?", 58 percent of respondents supported a change of laws to reduce the intake of immigrants, Svenska Dagbladet reported, noting a statistically significant increase from the 54 percent found in a survey carried out in March.
Only eight percent want Sweden to receive more refugees. Some 19 percent want to receive as many as today, while 15 percent are on the fence over the issue.
Overall, public support in favour of reducing immigration has been stable at over 50 percent for several years in a row.
In the bigger picture, public opinion against refugee reception has increased significantly. Merely five years ago, in September 2015, when Prime Minister Stefan Löfven held his famous speech "My Europe doesn't build walls" in favour of mass immigration, just under 30 percent wanted to receive fewer refugees. Five years later, the share has doubled. At the same time, the proportion who want more refugees has plummeted. Since June 2016, more than half of respondents have consistently polled for tighter immigration laws.
Among Swedish parties, there is a left-right divide is manifest regarding immigration. One-third of Green Party supporters want to receive more immigrants, and the same picture is generally valid for the ruling red-green bloc and their sidekicks the Liberals and the Centre.
Only among the right-of-centre parties is there a majority in favour of curbing immigration. In this respect, the national-conservative Sweden Democrats are in the lead with 99 percent in favour of reduced reception, followed by the liberal-conservative Moderates and the Christian Democrats at 80 and 73 percent, respectively.
The recent increase in anti-immigration sentiment may be attributed to a remarkable u-turn by Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, who after years of denying any link between gang crime and immigration admitted integration problems.
"If you have migration of such magnitude that you no longer cope with the integration, then you will get social tensions in a society and that is not good", Löfven said. "With a large migration where we cannot cope with the integration follows a greater risk of the problems we see. It's crystal clear", he concluded.
In the words of Sifo's head of public opinion Toivo Sjörén, refugee reception is associated with integration and also to some extent law and order, which has been high on the political agenda in recent years.
In recent weeks, the Swedish media landscape has been dominated by the proliferation of immigrant gangs and their increasing influence on communities, law enforcement, and even local politics. According to the Swedish police, at least 40 crime families have established themselves in Sweden solely for the purpose of organised crime and have been gaining more traction in recent times.