Moderate Party adopts tougher policies on migration

The members of Sweden's largest opposition party, the conservative Moderates, have voted in favour of significantly tougher migration policies, and want to replace the right to apply for asylum inside the EU with an extended quota-system.

At its annual conference over the weekend, the Moderates decided they want to push for a system where asylum seekers will not be admitted into the EU to apply for sanctuary, but that this should take place at "safe places" outside the union instead. They also want temporary residency permits to be the rule for refugees, until they can prove that they can earn their living. The same would apply for family reunification.

The party wants to make it possible for police to turn away asylum seekers at the border and direct them to another safe country, like Denmark, for example. Members also voted to strive to abolish the right for asylum seekers within Sweden to live in the location of their choosing. All would have to be accommodated at the Migration Agency's own centres instead.

The Moderates want to see language and knowledge tests introduced for those who want to become Swedish citizens, and people who are able to earn a living would have a chance to become citizens ahead of others.

The party members also voted in favour of a range of policies that would mean tougher sentencing for criminals and a ban on begging. They also voted in favour of cuts to taxes and benefits, for example, they want a cap on benefits per household.

Political commentators have noted that, overall, the new political programme means that the party, which is the biggest opposition party in parliament, has taken a clear step to the right on the political spectrum.

"The Moderates are today further to the right than before the conference started on Thursday," said Swedish Radio's political commentator Fredrik Furtenbach, who portrayed this as a step away from their former leader Fredrik Reinfeldt's legacy. "Crucial parts of his centrist policies are now abandoned," said Furtenbach.

And Mats Knutson, political commentator at Swedish Television notes that "the Moderate-party's right-turn creates optimism and belief in the future in the party ranks. But history shows that this does not necessarily have to mean that it helps win an election."

The Moderate Party recently elected a new party leader, Ulf Kristersson. The policies that were voted through at the weekend were however proposals formulated during Anna Kinberg Batra's term as leader. The next election will be held in September 2018.