Sweden’s centre-right opposition Moderate Party will continue to support a liberal immigration policy that has allowed thousands of asylum seekers to enter the country, the party’s incoming leader said on Tuesday. Anna Kinberg Batra’s comments came a week after a far right party brought down the centre-left minority government by demanding stricter immigration policies. Sweden will hold a new election in March and the 44-year-old could become the country’s first female prime minister.
“We have an asylum system which means that if you have to flee from war and oppression, you should be able to have your case tried here and get protection here,” Kinberg Batra said at a news conference after being nominated party leader.
“I am proud that Sweden have the finances and opportunity to do that … More European countries should take that responsibility.”
Well, I suppose that is more of an argument than her predecessor, Fredrik Reinfeldt came up with the other day:
“What does the word “enough” mean? Sweden is full? The Nordic region is full? Are we too many people? We are 25 million people living in the North. I often fly over the Swedish countryside and I would advise others to do. There are endless fields and forests. There’s more space than you might imagine. Those who claim that the country is full, they should demonstrate where it is full.”
The Moderates saw their support crumble in September’s election winning just 23 percent of the vote, down from 30 percent four years earlier.
That was enough to see them thrown out of office. Quite a good number of its former voters defected to the Sweden Democrats, an unlikable party of unsavory origins, but one which is the only party prepared to argue against Sweden’s highly permissive immigration policy. Reasonable people can disagree over what that policy should be, but to declare dissent from the current orthodoxy a taboo is to ask for trouble, and that’s what the Swedish political establishment has done.
If the political culture forbids respectable politicians from raising certain topics, then the electorate will turn to unrespectable ones.
And that is what has happened in Sweden. It may be that the new (minority ‘Red/Green’) government’s decision to call a fresh election (after the SD aligned itself with the center-right opposition to vote down the budget) will scare SD voters back into the mainstream, but then again:
The number of Swedes intending to vote for the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats has shot up according to a new poll by YouGov released on Monday. The poll suggested that if there had been an election last week, almost 18 percent of voters would have selected the nationalist party, compared with 13 percent who chose to vote for them at the last general election.
Last month the Swedish Migration Board raised its 2015 forecast for the number of asylums seekers to between 80,000 to 105,000 people, up from 64,000 to 94,000.