Majority supports immigration

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A recent survey shows that fully 54 percent of Norwegians support immigration and think Norway needs immigrants “to move in the right direction.” Only 12 percent think immigration is a bad thing.

Monument to Finnish immigration in Finnmark

This monument to immigration is found in the northern Norwegian city of Vadsø, and now a new survey suggests Norwegians elsewhere are positive towards immigration as well. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

The survey was conducted by research firm Ipsos/MMI for both Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten and Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, with the same questions posed in both countries. The results showed that there were few if any major differences between Norwegians’ and Swedes’ outlooks on immigration, although the Swedes were even more positive towards immigration. Despite constant political debate over immigration, 63 percent of Swedes questioned though immigration was good for the country, while 13 percent thought it was bad. Many were unsure, with 31 percent of the Norwegian saying they had no opinion, compared to 21 percent of the Swedes.

Split over refugees
Norwegians were split, tough, on whether Norway should take in more refugees: 32 percent thought the country should welcome more, 29 percent thought it shouldn’t and 35 percent had no opinion. In Sweden, which tops European rankings of the countries that are taking in refugees, especially from Syria, 26 percent thought more refugees should be welcome while 36 percent thought the country should take in fewer. The remainder were uncertain or had no opinion.

In Norway, residents of Oslo were the most positive towards immigration and that was reflected by nearly all the responses collected in “person-on-the-street” interviews conducted by Aftenposten. “I don’t see many negative sides of immigration, I think it’s a good thing,” said 20-year-old Jøhan Utnes, adding that he was glad to hear only 12 percent opposed immigration.

Kristian Haukland, age 29, agreed: “The media give an impression that it’s more than 12 percent who think immigration is negative, so I’m actually relieved it’s only 12 percent, even though it should have been even less.” Vidar Gullestad, age 30, called it “a sign of good health for Norwegian society” that the number of Norwegians who think immigration is bad is so low.

Some worries
Despite near-constant news in recent months about rising threats of terrorism in Norway and violent Islamic extremists, some reportedly trying to seek asylum in Norway, only 31 percent of Norwegians questioned said they were worried about more refugees coming to Norway, while 66 percent were not worried. In Sweden, the numbers were almost the same: 30 percent worried and 68 percent not worried.

Both Norwegians and Swedes, however, worry about a rising fear of foreigners: 59 percent in Norway and fully 77 percent in Sweden. In Norway, 38 percent were not worried, compared to 21 percent in Sweden.

The surveys were conducted late last month and involved just over 1,000 random telephone interviews in each country. The surveys also indicated that twice as many Norwegians were satisfied with integration of immigrants: 24 percent as opposed to just 10 percent in Sweden. Sixty percent of Swedes don’t think integration functions well in Sweden, compared to 37 percent in Norway.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund