In Early Results, Far-Right Make Gains in Sweden

Hugh Fox
September 10, 2018

That translates into a single-seat advantage in the 349-member Riksdag.

The center-left party emerged with the greatest share of the vote - 28.4 percent as the count neared completion - yet looking at holding fewer parliament seats than four years ago.

The nationalist Sweden Democrats (SD) vowed to exert "real influence" as kingmaker after emerging as the third largest political force in one of Europe's most liberal nations.

"Most signs pointed towards the Sweden Democrats taking over the position as the second-biggest party in Sweden". "Sweden is now on steadier grounds than what we could have feared before the election".

The results were largely in line with the conventional opinion polls tracked by Reuters in the run-up to the election but well below some online surveys that had predicted the Sweden Democrats could become the largest party.

At the party's rally on Saturday, he strongly criticized Lofven's government for "prioritizing" the cause of asylum-seekers.

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Anti-immigration, the far-right Sweden Democrats scored 17.6 percent votes.

Sweden saw itself as a "humanitarian superpower" for years, but a rise in gang violence in immigrant-dominated, socially deprived city suburbs has also won support for the Sweden Democrats.

The Swedish government in 2015 allowed 163,000 migrants into the country with a population of 10 million. Emilia Orpana said she and another party supporter were threatened by two young men who called them 'damned racists'. He has categorically ruled out any cooperation with the far-right. That was shared in Brussels.

"Sweden, birthplace of multiculturalism and model for the left, has finally chose to change after years of wild, uncontrolled immigration", Italian Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, leader of the far-right League, said in a statement Sunday night.

Senior figures in the mainstream parties were expected to meet later on Monday to begin producing a strategy for forming a government.

The center-right Moderates had pledged to give more funds to the police, and pushed for Swedish migration policy to fall in line with laws in other European Union countries, such as Denmark and Germany. "We won't mourn, we will organise ourselves", he said. With coalition governments requiring more parties to form a majority, they can become both more unstable and more hard to form in the first place: It took Rutte more than 200 days to form a Dutch government a year ago.

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Akesson had labeled the vote a choice between immigration and welfare in a campaign that was unusually antagonistic.

Mr Akesson challenged Ulf Kristersson, the centre-right Alliance's candidate for the premiership, to choose between seeking support from the Sweden Democrats and the incumbent Social Democrat prime minister Stefan Lofven.

"Everything suggests we're going to have a good election", SD leader Jimmie Akesson told news agency TT after voting in Stockholm. But some 200,000 votes from Swedes who live overseas, which could tip the balance, were only to be counted Wednesday.

Yet in the same breath, leaders of both sides called for bipartisan accommodation to avoid gridlock in parliament.

But it would then be under constant threat from the Sweden Democrats, out to topple it at the first opportunity.

Magnus Blomgren a social scientist at Umea University, says, "Traditional parties have failed to respond to the sense of discontent that exists". "Whether that's an agreement across the political divide in some way or not, something has to be done".

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Akesson was jubilant as he addressed supporters a day later, declaring the estimated 14 parliament seats the Social Democrats picked up a victory other parties could not ignore in coalition negotiations.

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