World Bulletin/News Desk
Sweden should stop giving automatic permanent residency to people granted asylum in the Nordic country, and cut benefits to motivate them to work, the head of the opposition Christian Democrat party said on Thursday.
Sweden's generous asylum system is shaping up as a key campaign issue as the country heads towards a snap election in March, triggered by a budget vote this month in which the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats brought down the minority government.
Christian Democrat leader Goran Hagglund wrote in Dagens Nyheter newspaper that those granted asylum should be allowed to stay three years.
Only then could they get permanent residency, if they had managed to find a job or if the original justification for asylum remained. To make up for lower welfare payments, tax breaks would be offered as an incentive to work.
"The Sweden Democrats are rubbing their hands in delight over this," he said.
From the far-right fringe, the party has surged in popularity, becoming the third-largest in September's election. Its rise mirrors a trend across several European countries, including Britain and France, as anti-immigration parties have capitalised on economic austerity and disenchantment with the European Union.
All mainstream parties have refused to cooperate with the Sweden Democrats, who want to cut asylum seeker numbers by 90 percent. The party wants the March vote to be a referendum on immigration and has vowed to bring down any government that does not curb rising immigrant numbers.
The Christian Democrats, part of the four-party opposition Alliance, were below the threshold for seats in parliament in the latest opinion poll, which showed the Sweden Democrats at 16 percent, up from 12.9 percent in September.
The poll showed the Alliance trailed the centre-left, comprising the minority government of the Social Democrats and Greens, plus the Left Party, by 38.5 percent to 43.3 percent.Last Mod: 18 Aralık 2014, 15:26