Elisabeth Svantesson, labour market spokesperson for the moderate party. Photo: Tomas Oneborg / SvD / TT
Elisabeth Svantesson, labour market spokesperson for the moderate party. Photo: Tomas Oneborg / SvD / TT

Social Democrats urged to do more for integration

Prime minister Stefan Löfven has said he wants to co-operate with the parties in the Alliance over integration of immigrants. But he is now criticised by leading Moderates and Christian Democrats for "not having any integration policies".

The criticism comes in response to an interview in the tabloid Aftonbladet, where Stefan Löfven suggested that integration could be an area of co-operation across the political divide, just like defence, energy policy and pensions, which were especially mentioned in the December Agreement between the government and the opposition in the Alliance.

But Elisabeth Svantesson, former minister, and now the Moderate party's labour market spokesperson, says it will be difficult to co-operate the way things are now. "Stefan Löfven and the Social Democrats have not got any integration policies during the last period in parliament, they completely abdicated on this issue, and not one proposal on integration was presented to parliament," she said.

"We already have a broad agreement on migration: to give protection to people who need it. But when we are talking about how people are to get quickly onto the labour market and get integrated, we differ. We have policies on jobs that are the foundation of integration. This is something that the Social Democrats are lacking," she said.

Meanwhile, the leader of the Christian Democrats, Göran Hägglund, is calling on the Social Democrats to present concrete proposals for integration. "The Social Democrats seem to have a penchant for the view that talks will generate results and policies. But it is the parties job to produce proposals that can change the situation. And we have done that," he told the news paper Svenska Dagbladet.

Hägglund is referring to his proposal before Christmas of cutting benefits for asylum seekers, whilst introducing tax-breaks so that asylum seekers can earn up to 100,000 SEK annually during their first five years in the country, without having to pay income tax. Hägglund also proposed the use of temporary residence permits instead of the permanent permits that those who have been granted asylum will get today.

Hägglund has himself been criticised for this proposal, by people saying that he is bying into the anti-immigration Sweden Democrat agenda, but he says the proposals will give the asylum seekers a stronger incentive to get onto the labour market, and to integrate into the Swedish society.

"When we come with proposals, the Social Democrats are at a loss. I cannot remember one single Social Democrat proposal that improves integration. They have none to offer, quite simply," Hägglund told SvD.

In order to enter into talks with another party on matters of policy, concrete proposals are essential, said Hägglund.
"You can't just make up politics when you sit down for the talks," he said.

SvD has tried to get Stefan Löfven to comment on this, but as he is in Brazil this New Year's Day, his press officer told the paper that no comments will be issued on this matter during Thursday.

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