Sweden's election results: The view from across Europe

Clay Curtis
September 10, 2018

Latest opinion polls suggest the ruling Social Democrats led by Prime Minister Stefan Lofven would substantially lose seats at the Parliament but would still win ahead of the far-right and anti-immigration Sweden Democrats the popularity of which has steadily risen since the 2014 election.

The opposition Center-Right alliance bloc of the Moderate Party, the Centre Party, the Liberal Party and the Christian Democrats gained 40.3 percent votes.

Overseas votes have not yet been counted, and final results are not expected until Wednesday.

Both of the main blocs have refused to govern with the SD, but leader Jimmie Akesson said he was prepared to talk with all other parties.

But others say the Sweden Democrats are trying to fix a historical problem.

Fewer than 30,000 votes separate the blocs and almost 200,000 ballots from Swedes who voted overseas have yet to be counted. Another voter indicated that she was scared of what support for the Sweden Democrats might mean for the country, stating that "the future of our handsome open society is threatened".

Voters in Sweden made their views on immigration known Sunday in a general election that could strengthen a party with roots in the white supremacist movement if enough ballots were cast to protest an influx of newcomers to the historically heterogeneous nation.

"Sweden, the homeland of multiculturalism and the model of the left, has finally chose to change after years of rampant immigration", he boasted. "Everything is about us", Akesson said.

"It feels like Sweden could take a step in this election that we won't be able to recover from very easily".

But while there was a sense of relief among supporters of mainstream parties about the nationalist group's more limited than expected gains, the election underscored a broader shift to the right in one of Europe's most socially progressive nations.

The hard part will be finding an ally to get into bed with.

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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.

If the exit poll results carry over to the official count, the far right Sweden Democrats would be the second-largest party in parliament.

Lofven told his supporters the election presented "a situation that all responsible parties must deal with", adding that "a party with roots in Nazism" would "never ever offer anything responsible, but hatred".

He has already done much to sanitise his party, kicking out more controversial members which helped give his brand of politics a wider appeal.

The Sweden Democrats want to slam the door to new arrivals, pull out of the European Union and significantly increase the rate of deportations.

"I'm afraid we're becoming a society that is more hostile to foreigners".

Lengthy negotiations will be needed to build a majority, or at least a minority that won't be toppled by the opposite side.

With the prospect of weeks or months of coalition talks before the next government is formed, Swedish tabloid Expressen headlined its front page Monday: "Chaos".

The opposition is intent on ousting Lofven, with some Moderates willing to go so far as to put an end to Sweden Demorats' pariah status and open negotiations with them.

Sweden continued a trajectory in Europe which has seen traditional parties shaken by the far-right. Le Monde has compiled a number of views from voters in Sweden on the importance of the election, with numerous responses focusing on the Sweden Democrats.

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