By Jenni Wirman (Uppsala University).
Swedish migration politics are heading towards an uncertain direction as the dust has settled following the Swedish general election 2018 to the Riksdag (the Swedish parliament), municipalities and county councils that took place Sunday 9 September. As the preliminary results could barely have been more even, 40.7% to 40.2%, Sweden is waking up to according to some, an impossible situation, and according to others, exciting times.
The final results are still pending, but the preliminary numbers already present a more fragmented political landscape than has been witnessed before. The block politics of Sweden between the traditional partners no longer seems to generate an obvious winning side, and much less a majority government. Following the trend among its European neighbours, the Swedish tradition of bloc politics seems to have reached an end.
The centre left Red-Green coalition consisting of the Left Party, Social Democrats and Green Party received 144 seats in parliament, only one seat over the 143 seats of the centre right Alliance bloc, which consists of the Centre party, Moderates, Liberals and Christian Democrats. Rising from 12.9% to 17.5% in the election, the far-right Sweden Democrats take another 13 seats. The strong the results did not quite reach up to the party’s own expectations to become the second biggest, if not the biggest party in Sweden.
Long negotiations await the parties in the parliament in order to set up a majority or a minority government. Migration is likely to become one of the core issues decisive for the final government installation, as the issue marks the divide between the red-green coalition as well as the Centre Party, and Sweden Democrats together with the rest of the Alliance.
In 2019, the law on temporary restriction to obtaining a residence permit in Sweden will come to an end after three years in effect, since 19 July 2016. How will family immigration be managed from then on? Will there be a retreat to the old acquis or will the current policy withstand? We can only wait and see.
On Friday 21 September, the kick-off for the Migration Governance Network in Sweden takes place in Uppsala. The event is taking place only two weeks after the elections, and it will by then still be a unclear ifwe can look forward to a coalition government or even a re-election. Therefore, together with our renowned speakers, we aim to comment, analyse and set a prognosis on the matter of migration policies and migration governance in Sweden. What consequences will the election campaign and the final results have for migration policies during the forthcoming term and in the long run? What are the biggest political challenges facing Sweden in terms of migration – in a shorter and longer term perspective?