Far-right party makes big gains in socially progressive Sweden

Far-right party makes big gains in socially progressive Sweden

For those predicting a decisive right-wing triumph, the ultimate result didn't quite live up to the hype.

The latest opinion poll conducted by pollster Novus for public broadcaster Sveriges Television AB on Friday suggested that Lofven's Social Democrats would substantially lose seats, but still emerge as the party with the most votes, with an estimated 24.9 percent of the ballots.

Instead, Sunday's results effectively provided no clear victor and no convenient or simple narrative to explain the shifts underway in Swedish politics.

For Jan Andersson, 69, the advances made by the Sweden Democrats overshadowed the considerable success of the party he had backed, the Left, which won 39% of the vote in the local constituency.

Partial results, with some 80pc of districts counted, showed the ruling centre-left Social Democrats and Greens and their Left Party allies winning 40.6pc of the vote, while the opposition centre-right Alliance were seen at 40.1pc. They come from a bad place, awful wars.

The Social Democrats have ruled out cooperating with the Sweden Democrats, but party secretary Richard Jomshof has said they want to be part of government.

Lengthy negotiations will follow to attempt to form a workable government.

Mattias, a Stockholm resident at an election night party in the city, said he was "extremely concerned" about the far right's steady climb since it entered parliament in 2006 with 5.7 percent.

The nationalist Sweden Democrats scored 19.1 percent, well above the 12.9 percent they won in the previous election in 2014. It is obvious, he continued, "that the people in Sweden have realized the real difficulties we are facing".

"So the Sweden Democrats' sympathizers are not participating in these kinds of surveys".

It would also make them the biggest populist party in the Nordic region, topping the Danish People's Party, which gained 21 per cent in 2015, and would trump the 12.6 per cent for the far-right Alternative for Germany, which swept into the Bundestag a year ago. "The other parties can't ignore them any more", he said.

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"What happens is that xenophobia, racism, anti-immigration ideas become more recognized and legitimate. because the big parties, the power-holding parties are jumping on them", said Emilia Palonen, an expert on populism at the University of Helsinki.

"All the parties except two of them, I would say, have moved toward us", Markus Wiechel, a member of parliament for the Sweden Democrats and the party's foreign-policy spokesman, said the week before the vote. And this wasn't just campaign speak.

When 17.6 percent of the electorate in a sensible country like Sweden vote for an outsider party, the political elite should sit up and take notice. The mainstream parties might well have avoided mentioning immigration at all.

"The election is between potential democracy and potential facism", he told AFP.

For 70 years the Swedish political landscape was dominated by one strong political actor - the Social Democrats.

"The alliance will not govern or discuss how to form a government with the Sweden Democrats", Kristersson said.

Sky's Michelle Clifford, who is reporting from the Sweden Democrats' election party, said: "They have done well, but the aspirations from the polls was that they would be the second largest, but that doesn't seem so".

Kristersson called on Lofven to resign, but rebuffed Akesson.

The current coalition, headed by outgoing PM Stefan Lofven, is made up of his Social Democrats and the Green Party, and is supported in parliament by the Left Party. This would mean that migrants won't be able to stay unless they can prove that they can support themselves, enabling them to get a permanent residence permit.

The SD wants to freeze immigration, leave the European Union, crack down on crime and are climate change sceptics.

Overseas votes, which could make a slight change to the outcome, have not yet been counted and the final result is not expected until Wednesday.

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