Swedish minister calls for 50 percent cap on non-Nordic citizens in troubled areas

Immigration Minister Anders Ygeman has suggested that Sweden follow Denmark and seek to limit the concentration of people with immigrant backgrounds in the most troubled areas of its cities.

Swedish minister calls for 50 percent cap on non-Nordic citizens in troubled areas
File photo of Integration and Migration Minister Anders Ygeman. Photo: Ali Lorestani/TT

In an interview with the Dagens Nyheter newspaper (DN), Ygeman said that it was a problem for Sweden that there are districts where a majority of inhabitants come from outside the Nordic countries – Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, Finland and Norway.

“I think it’s bad to have areas where the majority have a non-Nordic origin,” he told DN.

“If you want to learn Swedish, you need to practice. If you live in an area where you can get by with the language of your home country, it becomes hugely more difficult to learn and develop the language. If, in addition, you have a job where you can get by in the language of your homeland, where are you going to practice Swedish? In that context, I think having this sort of goal can say something important.” 

A 50 percent limit

Ygeman suggested a 50 percent limit when pushed by the newspaper’s reporters on whether he thought Sweden should bring in a similar target to that of Denmark, where the ruling Social Democrats have brought in a target that no housing development in the country should have more than 30 percent of the population with a non-Western background by 2030.

The Danish government considers “Western” countries to be EU countries plus Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland, the UK, the Vatican, Canada, USA, Australia and New Zealand.

“That’s just a starting point. If we’re going to impose that number [as a target] for real, then we need to carry out an inquiry and think about it. But if you want to have my “hunch”, I’d put the number there,” Ygeman said.

Ygeman, however, believes that other factors – such as unemployment, level of education and criminality – are more important than residents’ country of origin when determining whether an area should be classed as ‘vulnerable’ or not.

Sweden’s “vulnerable areas” – the lowest on a three-step scale, followed by “risk areas” and “especially vulnerable areas” – are described by the police authority as areas “characterised by a low socioeconomic status where criminals have an effect on the local community”.

“But the socio-economic factors also have an ethnic dimension,” Ygeman told DN, “as around 75 percent of the long-term unemployed have a non-Nordic background.”

Ygeman told DN that the number of residents with a non-Nordic background could “maybe be one of five criteria”, when classifying “vulnerable areas”.

Flexible renting

Another Danish idea which Ygeman would like to see in Sweden is so-called “flexible renting”, DN reports.

This consists of letting workers and students skip housing queues in “vulnerable areas”, in a bid to fill these areas with people who can support themselves financially.

“We need to make it easier for people who work or study to move into vulnerable areas and risk areas,” Ygeman told DN.

“We need quite tough requirements so that we don’t fill vulnerable areas up with people who are less able to pay.”

On the question of where the unemployed and those who are less able to support themselves will live, Ygeman told DN that “in all cities with vulnerable areas, there are twenty areas which aren’t vulnerable. Why do newly-arrived people need to live in that exact vulnerable area?”

This could be due, in part, to the fact that it’s easier to get an apartment in these areas, since they have a bad reputation and are cheaper, the newspaper’s reporters argued.

“Maybe we need to think about whether the requirements on income and being able to support yourself should be as strict across municipalities,” Ygeman told DN. “Maybe requirements should be a bit more simple in other areas, so you get a more mixed population.”

‘Non-Western’ sounds ‘colonial’

Ygeman did, however, admit to DN that Denmark’s debate concerning “non-Western” immigrants has “maybe not been so successful”.

“There’s something about that ‘non-Western’ thing which sounds ‘off’,” he said.

“There’s a colonial touch to it. ‘We’re Western, you’re…’ I think ‘non-Nordic works just as well to describe the problem.”

Member comments

  1. I was wondering, what about people coming from the US, Australia and such countries. They do not speak Swedish and there is a risk they might create their own pockets too. Perhaps non Nordic is a better term to use because the entire purpose of this rule would be for people to integrate well in the society and it’s easier for Nordic countries to do that because of language similarities.

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Sweden’s right-wing parties agree to bring back Norlén as Speaker 

The four parties backing Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson as prime minister on Sunday announced that they had agreed to keep the current Speaker, Andreas Norlén in place, when the role is put to a vote as parliament opens on Monday.

Sweden's right-wing parties agree to bring back Norlén as Speaker 

The parties won a three-seat majority over the bloc led by the incumbent Social Democrats in Sweden’s general election on September 11th, and are currently in the middle of negotiating how they will form Sweden’s next government. 

Sweden’s parliament meets at 11am for the official installation of the 349 MPs for this mandate period. The votes for the Speaker and three Deputy Speakers are the first item on the agenda, after which the parties each select their parliamentary leaders and then vote on who should chair each of the parliamentary committees. 

READ ALSO: What happens next as parliament reopens? 

In a joint press release announcing the decision, the parties also agreed that the Sweden Democrats would be given eight of the 16 chairmanships the bloc will have of parliamentary committees in the next parliament, and that MPs for all four parties would back Julia Kronlid, the Sweden Democrats’ Second Deputy Leader, as the second deputy Speaker, serving under Norlén. 

In the press release, the parties said that Norlén had over the last four years shown that he has “the necessary personal qualities and qualifications which the role requires”. 

The decision to retain Norlén, who presided over the 134 days of talks and parliamentary votes that led to the January Agreement in 2019, was praised by Social Democrat leader Magdalena Andersson. 

Norlén, she said in a statement, had “managed his responsibilities well over the past four years and been a good representative of Sweden’s Riksdag.” 

The decision to appoint Kronlid was opposed by both the Left Party and the Green Party, who said that she supported tightening abortion legislation, and did not believe in evolution.

The Green Party’s joint leader Märta Stenevi said that her party “did not have confidence in Julia Kronlid”, pointing to an interview she gave in 2014 when she said she did not believe that humans were descended from apes.

The party has proposed its finance spokesperson Janine Alm Ericson as a rival candidate. 

The Left Party said it was planning to vote for the Centre Party’s candidate for the post second deputy Speaker in the hope of blocking Kronlid as a candidate.