New Minister, New Policy?

One of the changes in the new government announced on Tuesday was a shake up in the integration ministry.

The new minister is Erik Ullenhag. What everyone is wondering is whether his appointment will signal any real change in policy or approach.

He says in an interview with Swedish Radio news that he wants to "stand up for the Swedish tradition of openness towards the world" and he adds that immigration must continue, as it has enriched Sweden.

He is a member of the Folkpartiet, as was his predecessor Nyamko Sabuni. She retains responsibility for equality, and for SFI - the free Swedish-language courses offered to all immigrants.

Both ministers are to work under the ministry for employment.

Integration is one of the issues that may be worked on across the blocs - the Green Party has signalled that they are ready to deepen their earlier cooperation with the Alliance on integration immigration - in order to sideline the Sweden Democrats.

Bodil Ceballos, of the Green Party, says that she is positive, on first impression. She says that her spontaneous reaction to the new appointment is that it may be easier to work with the new minister than with his predecessor: because he is a social liberal, whereas in her opinion Nyamko Sabuni had come out with a number of controversial suggestions on integration.

But Bodil Ceballos also underlines that the Greens have not yet properly discussed how they are to cooperate with the government. She guesses that the alliance will look at what it wants to put forward, and then come to the Greens - or or the Social Democrats - to seek their backing.

Massoud Kamali is professor in social work at Mid Sweden University. He says that he doesn't expect any big changes, since in his view the Folkpartiet has not changed in the eight years since it left its old liberal immigration policy and went over to a Danish-style line, where immigrants are required to change in order to 'fit in' to Swedish society.

He says that this change in line was organised by a group that included Erik Ullenhag - and that therefore the Alliance government is responding to the entry of the Sweden Democrats into parliament by showing that it has the same tough line on immigration - a line that professor Kamali describes as not so far from that of the Sweden Democrats.