Anna Kinberg Batra, who led the party from 2015 to 2017, wrote in the Dagens Industri newspaper that the liberal labour migration reforms that the Moderate Party government brought in back in 2008 had been a “growth-friendly reform” which “strengthened Sweden on the international talent market”.
Given that the article comes only three days to go before parliament is set to vote on significantly increasing the minimum salary for a work permit, undoing one of the key planks of those 2008 reforms, this is an implicit criticism of the new government’s political programme.
Kinberg Batra also criticised other changes to labour migration rules, noting that a change in rules for researchers from other countries, which came into force on November 1st, means that researchers from countries like the US now have to physically apply for a research visa, whereas before they could handle the process digitally.
The former process, she stressed, demanded “less time, energy, and money”.
People with foreign backgrounds have been central to Sweden’s growth in recent years, she argued, mentioning two winners of this year’s “New Builder of the Year” award.
Zaid Saeed won the award for his quantum computing start-up Scallinq, a spin-off from his work as a physics professor at Chalmers University of Technology. Rim Alexandra Halfya, meanwhile won the award for starting the building technology company Combify together with Alaa Alshawa, who came to Sweden from Syria in 2015.
Sweden, she said, needed more people like this, “who don’t wait to receive a job, but go and create one for themselves instead”.
All the previous governments she had played a part in had sought to find ways to make Sweden a more productive, more efficient, more dynamic economy, she added. The 2006 government led by Fredrik Reinfeldt liberalised labour migration laws, among other measures, even though it had also had to deal with the financial crisis.
The government led by Carl Bildt from 1991-1994 also had to deal with an economic crisis, but Kinberg Batra wrote that as a young political advisor, she helped launch ideas “every week” to “rebuild Sweden as a growth-driven and business-friendly nation with a strong and growing economy”.