A growing number of Swedes want their country to take in fewer migrants, a poll showed on Monday (9 November) as Sweden struggles to manage an unprecedented influx of asylum seekers.
Last week (2-8 November), more than 10,000 people sought asylum in Sweden – a new weekly record that brought the number of asylum seekers so far this year to 122,000, with a total of up to 190,000 expected by year’s end.
The poll by Sifo, published in the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper, found 41% said Sweden should grant fewer residency permits to refugees, compared to just 29% in September. Of the 1,000 people questioned on November 2-5, a quarter wanted the number to remain at current levels, while 17% wanted an increase and 16% were undecided.
Sweden has taken more refugees per capita than any other country in Europe as the continent struggles with its worst migration crisis since World War II.
“When we polled opinion in September, the developments and the debate were completely different. Today the prime minister (Stefan Löfven) is asking to redistribute (in the European Union) the refugees who have come here,” said Toivo Sjörén, head of polling at Sifo.
An Ipsos poll published on Saturday in Sweden’s Dagens Nyheter newspaper similarly indicated a shift in attitudes, suggesting 26% think the Scandinavian country should welcome more migrants, down from 44% in September.
Men and right-wing voters tended to take more negative views of migrants, with 96% of the far-right Sweden Democrats’ supporters saying fewer should be granted residency.
Rising opposition to the newcomers can also be seen on social media.
According to a study conducted by Svenska Dagbladet, 35% of the most shared posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram containing the Swedish word for “refugees” expressed a negative opinion about the issue in October, compared to 21% in September.
The European Union has agreed on a plan, resisted by Hungary and several other ex-communist members of the bloc, to share out 120,000 refugees among its members, a small proportion of the 700,000 refugees the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) estimates will reach Europe's borders from the Middle East, Africa and Asia this year.
The EU is also courting Turkey with the promise of money, visa-free travel, and new accession talks if Ankara tries to stem the flow of refugees across its territory.
- 11-12 November: EU heads of state meet in Valletta for an informal summit on migration, the fifth this year.