Sweden polls: Left, right blocs level as far-right makes gains

Sweden polls: Left, right blocs level as far-right makes gains

Sweden polls: Left, right blocs level as far-right makes gains

"We have been completely clear during the whole election", he said.

The centre-right Alliance was nearly in a dead-heat with 40.3%. The two largest catch-all parties, the Social Democrats and the Conservatives, kept shrinking and the right-wing populists, the Sweden Democrats, kept growing.

The results show Sunday's vote was one of the toughest challenges in decades to Sweden's social democracy, characterized by its high tax rates and substantial welfare system, aimed at reducing inequality through social inclusion.

That same scenario has played out similarly in countries across Europe, where traditional left and right parties have employed similar strategies to regain voters from populist parties, largely without success.

In particular, the governing Social Democratic Party seems to have had its worst electoral performance in a century.

"We have increased our mandate in parliament and we see that we will have an huge influence on what is happening in Sweden in the next week, the next few months and the next few years", he told supporters.

Responding to the result, Spanish newspaper El País labelled the elections "unprecedented" and described the contest as a "vote between integration and xenophobia". Although they won less support than expected, it is still enough to create deadlock: The existing center-left and center-right coalitions, both of which have ruled out explicit collaboration with the Sweden Democrats, are neck and neck, but neither is nowhere near having the seats necessary for a majority.

Currently, Social Democrats leader and Prime Minister Stefan Lofven have a minuscule two-mandate lead over the centre-right opposition, with 144 seats against 142.

Pollsters had warned that the far-right Sweden Democrats could end up winning veto power over which parties form the next government. "But I'm not sure about the way of the Sweden Democrats".

Politicians in Sweden will now "need a lot of imagination" to form a government, daily Svenska Dagbladet wrote.

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The Moderates party was next at 19.2 percent, while the far-right Sweden Democrats that before the election inspired fear of an anti-migrant backlash that would produce a dramatic ideological swing had 17.9 percent.

Ahead of the election, promising prospects for the Sweden Democrats had many Swedes anxious about an erosion of the humanitarian values that have always been a foundation of their country's identity.

Instead Sweden may get centre-right government with the tacit support of the far right. In a previous EUROPP article, Anders Hellström has assessed the importance of the Sweden Democrats for the 2018 election, and how their policies on immigration and crime have influenced the other major Swedish parties.

Results were based on 99% of the vote confirmed and will not be finalized until Wednesday when overseas votes are counted. The "Alliance" of the four centre-right parties led by the Moderates had 40.3 per cent and 143 seats. Another impressive feat is that although the party was founded only 30 years ago and had roots in the country's fascist and white nationalist movements, it still managed to triple its support in just two election cycles.

But it's also interesting to note that immigration may not have turned out to be quite such an important factor to voters than expected.

Later, the premier again commented on the migration issue in a column posted on his office's website.

But, ultimately, the far right's gains have not been sufficient to put it in a position to push as hard as it might on its agenda.

"The Alliance have already gone out and locked themselves up in a position", she said.

The prime minister must choose between: risking losing core voters by dealing with the party he calls racist; and bargaining, for the sake of his career. SD has gained momentum as other established parties adopted their proposals and rhetoric.

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