Immigration splits opposition

Konservative stands alone among opposition parties in its rejection of tougher immigration laws

Should the opposition be at the helm of the government following the next election, in less than two years' time, the immigration issue could see some hefty debate.

Lars Barfoed, the Konservative (K) leader, has revealed that his party will not pursue any further tightening of immigration laws, should his party become part of a governing coalition together with Venstre (V) and the anti-immigration Dansk Folkeparti (DF).

Barfoed said he was ready to give up issues central to his party such as tax cuts if it meant having to accept tougher immigration policies in return.

“We won’t be a part of passing more restrictive immigration legislation because we believe the focus should be on improving integration instead,” Barfoed told Berlingske newspaper. “So if Dansk Folkeparti (DF) and Venstre (V) want to continue tightening the screw after the next election, they will have to find a majority somewhere else.”

While Bafoed said his party would help roll back changes to immigration law made by the current government, any new initiatives must not result in more restrictive policies than those it helped pass together with Venstre and DF between 2001 and 2011.

Dansk Folkeparti and Venstre have made it clear they disagree with Konservative on immigration.

“It’s good that he is making this known. If the voters want to tighten immigration policy then they shouldn’t vote Konservative,” Kristian Thulesen Dahl, the DF leader, told Berlingske.

Kristian Jensen, Venstre’s deputy head, said the party had not ruled out tougher immigration laws.

“There will be a need to toughen up immigration policy after the changes this government has made, and we will look into that when we return to power,” Jensen told Berlingske. “Everything will be on the table when we negotiate with the other parties.”

Venstre and Dansk Folkeparti found an unlikely ally in Liberal Alliance, which typically supports relaxed immigration policy. Simon Emil Ammitzbøll, a party spokesperson, however, said Liberal Alliance would like to see it become more difficult to get asylum, restrict immigrants' access to public benefits and make it easier to deport immigrants who have been convicted of crimes.

“I am deeply concerned that he [Barfoed] has repeated his stunt from the last election,” Ammitzbøll said, referring to an effort by Barfoed to join forces with the centrist Radikale. Ammitzbøll blamed the effort for sinking the Venstre-Konservative re-election efforts. “I think he needs to get a grip.”

The next general election must be held by September 2015.