Deputy Prime Minister Åsa Romson from the Green Party and Prime Minister Stefan Löfven (Socialdemocrat) announcing stricter rules for asylum seekers in November 2015.
Deputy Prime Minister Åsa Romson from the Green Party and Prime Minister Stefan Löfven (Socialdemocrat) announcing stricter rules for asylum seekers in November 2015. Credit: Lars Pehrson/SvD/TT

Green Party meets to review refugee policies

Over 300 Green Party members are meeting on Saturday to discuss refugee policies. Many party faithful have been disappointed that the party agreed to the government's restrictions on immigration.

The Greens make up the smallest party in the government coalition, with 24 seats in parliament, compared to the Social Democrats with 113 seats.

When the Green Party leader Åsa Romson stood next to Prime Minister Stefan Löfven last autumn to announce that Sweden will now adjust to the most restrictive rules for asylum seekers in the EU to try to stop refugees from coming here, it was seen as a painful compromise for the party which normally advocates very generous refugee policies. Romson famously could not hold back the tears when it was announced.

Saturday's meeting is simultaneously held in Malmö, Västerås and Härnösand, with a video link between the three. Participants are elected Green party politicians from national, regional and local assemblies, as well as from the youth wing of the party.

TT reports that the meeting started with party leader Åsa Romson, on a video link from Härnösand, describing how the refugee reception during the autumn was tested to breaking point, and for a period over ten thousand new people per week applied for asylum in Sweden.

"The government hade started reforms to strengthen among others the Migration Board's capacity for housing and to get all the municipalities to help out, but this would absolutely have been needed earlier," she said.

The party's spokesperson on migration, Maria Ferm told TT that "what would have been best politically has not been politically possible."

Romson as well as Ferm now emphasise that it is important to come up with proposals to increase the capacity in the refugee reception, and to improve the integration of the people who have arrived here. The aim is to return to more generous refugee policies as soon as possible.

"We must find ways forward. I have very big expectations on this day," said Ferm.

One of the initiators to the meeting is Nils Karlsson, Green Party representative in Malmö City Council. He told TT that "they are aware in the government that they have compromised with our party programme, and they deemed that it was worth it. Now they have a chance to explain how they though then. It may have been worth it," he said.

"I don't see it as a crisis meeting, but we need more and better proposals for how we can carry out the policies that we have decided," said Ann Kyrkander, who the leader of the Green Party in Falköping.

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