Sweden's Social Democrats won 40 percent of the vote in September 2002 elections and retained control of the coalition government. However, the surprising strength of the Liberal Party, which called for immigrants unable to find work within three months of their arrival in Sweden to be sent home, signaled a new get-tough attitude to immigrants on welfare. About 7.3 percent of Sweden's nine million population are migrants from outside the European Union.
The Swedish government in October 2002 said that it would end an exemption that allowed immigrants to marry partners as young as 15 if their countries of origin permitted such marriages. Under the proposal, immigrants, like Swedes, would have to be 18 for their marriages to be recognized.
Denmark in October 2002 offered 1,300 Afghans 18,000 Kroner ($2,350) plus airfare if they returned voluntarily. After three weeks, fewer than 50 had accepted the offer, which is due to expire November 1, 2002.