Two weeks before the general election, the Sweden Democrats (SD) have attacked the practice of accepting quota refugees allocated through the UN, and are instead betting on sending migrants home, the tabloid daily Aftonbladet reported. The proposals will be included in the party's election manifesto, which is slated to be released later this week.
This represents a conspicuous change of course by the SD, who have pushed for more quota refugees as late as 2015, in order to stress that there were "legal pathways to Sweden." Sweden has been to receiving quota refugees since 1950. These people are elected by the UN's refugee body UNHCR and are considered to have special protection needs. Sweden takes in several thousand quota refugees annually.
However, the intake of quota refugees should only be suspended temporarily, according to the SD.
"In principle, we believe the quota system is a good thing. But we have also been clear that it entails that we have the opportunity for reception in Sweden. It presupposes the assumption that we have order in our systems. In one or two years' time, we do not see that opportunity," SD immigration spokeswoman Paula Bieler said.
At the same time, the Sweden Democrats' return program has been referred to as "the most important integration policy measure of the election campaign" by SD press head and integration spokesman Henrik Vinge.
Some residents who have roots in another country simply do not want to adapt to Sweden, Vinge explained to the Nyheter Idag news outlet. Therefore, the SD believes that it would be better for all the parties involved, if those people returned to their respective home countries, which would in turn facilitate the integration of other immigrants in Sweden.
"It may be that they don't want to break cultural patterns such as the oppression of women, don't want to learn the language or accept customs such as shaking hands," Vinge explained. "Many of those who don't want to adapt, instead, have a desire to return to their home country. But for economic or practical reasons it cannot happen. With the return program in place, we will enable these people to return. It benefits both the individual and cohesion in the country," he added.
While announcing the initiative, the SD cited party leader Jimmie Åkesson as saying "Those who aren't ready to adapt themselves, will have to choose another country."
In Swedish social media, the SD's initiative was instantly compared with yet more drastic plans by the Alternative for Sweden (AfS), which was founded earlier this year by maverick Sweden Democrats. AfS bosses including party leader Gustav Kasselstrand have been pushing for the expulsion of "at least 500,000."