Far-right nationalists shake up Swedish election

Sweden Democrats could power right-wing bloc to surprise victory

Sweden Democrats Jimmie Akesson delivers a speech in Stockholm
Jimmie Akesson, leader of the Sweden Democrats, delivers a speech to supporters
(Image credit: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP via Getty Images)

Sweden’s election result hangs in the balance with the far-right Sweden Democrats party enjoying a surprise surge of support.

Although exit polls initially predicted victory for the incumbent centre-left coalition, headed by Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, later results suggested the right-wing bloc could sneak a win.

The early exit poll by Sweden’s public broadcaster suggested Andersson’s coalition of four centre-left parties had 49.8% of the vote compared to 49.2% for his rivals. But the latest partial results put the right-wing group ahead, with a projected 176 of 349 seats in parliament, against the centre-left’s 173, after 94% of electoral districts were counted.

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The result was so close the election authority said “it would not be known before Wednesday when some uncounted votes, including those cast abroad, have been tallied”, reported Sky News.

The far-right Sweden Democrats “have come in from the cold after being shunned by the mainstream parties for more than a decade because of their extremist origins”, said The Times.

Andersson’s Social Democrats are expected to remain the country’s largest party, with 30.5% of the votes. As the race is so close, the final outcome may have to wait a few days until all votes, including postal and advance ballots, are counted.

Even then Sweden’s future will be decided by “parliamentary horse-trading”, said The Times. The paper noted that after the last election in 2018, which ended in a similar deadlock, it took 134 days to assemble a viable minority government.

The anti-immigration Sweden Democrats were “born out of a neo-Nazi movement at the end of the 1980s”, said the BBC. With a projected 20% of the vote this time, they are expected to become the country’s second biggest party.

Whether there ends up being a new right-wing government or not, the nationalist Sweden Democrats have made “significant gains”, said the BBC. But it added that the party’s leader, Jimmie Akesson, is “unlikely to become prime minister even if the right-wing bloc wins the largest number of seats”. The Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson, seen as more “palatable”, would be more likely to take that role.

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