16:48 GMT07 August 2020
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    While public opinion is in favour of a more restrictive policy, the ruling Social Democrats are hesitant to introduce a “ceiling” on immigration, pressured by the centre-right opposition and their junior left-wing allies, the Greens.


    An increasing majority of Swedes want to see a reduction in asylum immigration, a new survey conducted by pollster Novus on behalf of national broadcaster SVT has indicated.

    Wholly 63 percent of Swedes said they want their country to receive fewer asylum seekers than in 2019, when Sweden took in some 22,000 migrants. Last year, 56 percent answered “yes” to the same question.

    At the same time, the share of people with a welcoming attitude is decreasing. Only 8 percent of Swedes want to receive more immigrants, compared with 12 percent last year.

    “These are significant changes in opinion, both the increase among those who want fewer and the decrease among those who want more,” Novus CEO Torbjörn Sjöström told SVT.

    Asked whether they want a “ceiling” on immigration, 28 percent said it should be 10,000 per year, whereas 11 percent said there should be no limit whatsoever.

    The poll came at a time of a nascent government crisis, as the two parties in the minority ruling coalition, the Social Democrats and the Greens, are clashing over whether Sweden should tighten its asylum immigration, an issue that has largely dominated the past two general elections.

    While the ruling Social Democrats have voiced cautious support for a tightening, pressed by opposition parties, their sidekicks the Greens strenuously oppose limiting immigration and have even threatened to leave the government.

    As the Social Democrats, following their worst electoral performance in a century, cannot afford to lose key allies, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has already pledged to rule out a maximum limit, which the opposition parties have been pushing for.

    However, the Social Democrats are still facing a dilemma. While agreeing for a more relaxed asylum policy may whip up support for their right-of-the-centre rivals, a tougher immigration stance may further rob the party of key voters, including Swedes of immigrant descent, who previously were found to favour the Social Democrats.

    A shift toward tighter rules would also mean the end of a decade-long experiment initiated under Moderate Party two-term prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, under whose leadership Sweden became arguably the most welcoming country for asylum seekers in entire Europe. The Moderates have since reconsidered their stance and now advocate harsher policies.

    In the words of political commentator Mats Knutsson, “for Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, the difficult challenge is to negotiate a broad and credible migration policy agreement without simultaneously cracking the government and triggering a crisis. And this doesn't seem to be a simple task.”



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