Swedish government announces next steps in overhaul of migration law

Sweden's government on Wednesday announced that the two coalition partners have agreed on what the next steps for a new Swedish migration policy will look like.

Swedish government announces next steps in overhaul of migration law
Deputy Prime Minister Isabella Lövin and Migration Minister Morgan Johansson. Photo: Amir Nabizadeh/TT

“The government's standing point is that people who move to Sweden and have the right to stay here should get all the help they need to become part of society, but that those who do not have the right to stay should return,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Green Party leader Isabella Lövin, who held a joint press conference with Justice and Migration Minister Morgan Johansson.

The two explained that they had agreed to present a bill based on 26 proposals for a new Swedish migration policy – the first step to replacing the temporary laws introduced in 2016 in the wake of a mass influx of refugees.

The proposals were outlined in September by Sweden's Migration Committee, which included representatives from each parliamentary party as well as independent experts. But the parties could not reach an agreement, so the final report was made up of 26 proposals rather than a comprehensive policy, each one supported by several parties. 

The Social Democrats supported all 26 of the proposals, but their junior coalition partner the Green Party agreed with only three, leaving the future of the policy uncertain.

For the proposals to become law, the Social Democrat-Green government would need to put together a bill, send it out for consultation, and it would then need to pass a parliamentary vote.

Now the governing parties have agreed to prepare a bill based on the 26 proposals, but along with some additional suggestions supported by the Green Party. But the final proposals could still change slightly before they are put to parliament, depending on the feedback from expert authorities during the consultation round.

One such addition is a proposed change to the so-called 'high school law' (gymnasielagen) which currently means that asylum seekers whose claims are unsuccessful may remain in Sweden to complete upper secondary school, but must leave the country if they do not find a job within six months of graduation. The proposed change would increase this time limit to a year.

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Koran burnings by Danish far-Right extremist no longer causing riots, Swedish police say

Swedish police said there have been no disturbances associated with the Koran burning by Danish far-Right extremist Rasmus Paludan and his party Stram Kurs ("Hard Line") this week around Stockholm, unlike the riots seen over Easter.

Koran burnings by Danish far-Right extremist no longer causing riots, Swedish police say

Paludan and his party have been holding demonstrations this week involving burning the Koran, in what Paludan describes as an “election tour” ahead of standing in Sweden’s parliamentary election in September.

However Swedish newswire TT has reported that few people have seemed to care about the shock tactics used and police have confirmed that no major disturbances have occurred as a result of the demonstrations.

This is in stark contrast to the demonstrations over Easter, which resulted in riots involving vandalism and violence aimed primarily at police. A total of 26 police officers were injured and at least 40 people were arrested.

“The police did not anticipate the extent of the protests and the enormous violence that the Easter riots brought with them. I don’t know if we have seen anything similar in Sweden in modern times,” Sten Widmalm, political scientist at Uppsala University, told newswire TT.

Widmalm says there are now fewer people turning up at Paludan’s demonstrations because of the number of people charged over the Easter riots. He also noted the increased police presence and adapted resources by the police, which has stopped anyone getting close to using violence.

Everyone that TT newswire spoke to a demonstration in Fittja torg, said they knew Paludan’s aim was to provoke people.

“I am a Muslim myself and I don’t care. For a true Muslim, all religions are equal. His message is to create conflict and irritation. You shouldn’t give him that,” Himmet Kaya told TT. 

According to Widmalm, there is nothing to indicate that Paludan will be successful at the Swedish election.

“On the other hand, I think that Stram Kurs has influenced Swedish politics very much in such a way that it has exposed large gaps in society. I think awareness of these has increased, due to the Easter riots – although it’s nothing to thank Paludan for.”

In Sweden, you must be a Swedish citizen in order to be elected to parliament. Paludan’s father is Swedish, and he applied for and was granted Swedish citizenship in 2020.

In order to enter the Swedish parliament, Paludan must win at least four percent of the vote in the upcoming election.

In 2019, Paludan stood in Danish parliamentary elections, achieving only 1.8 percent of the vote. Under Denmark’s proportional representation system, parties must achieve at least two percent of the vote in order to enter the Danish parliament.