No one really won Sweden's general election and people are utterly confused

Geneva Stokes
September 12, 2018

The far-right Sweden Democrats had at times during the campaign appeared to have a shot at becoming the biggest party in the country, but in the end they placed third, capturing 18 percent of initial tallies of the vote.

Partial results, with some 80 per cent of districts counted, showed the ruling centre-left Social Democrats and Greens and their Left Party parliamentary allies winning 40.6 per cent of the vote, while the opposition centre-right Alliance had won 40.1 per cent.

The far-right Sweden Democrats, a niche party campaigning on a nationalist agenda, registered its highest electoral score to date. Both have built alliances with other smaller parties and while neither of these alliances have a majority (both stand at 40 percent), it might be - depending on how much those not part of the relative alliance object to it - enough for one of them.

Reuters reports that following the result, Sweden Democrats leader Jimmie Akesson told party colleagues: "We will gain huge influence over what happens in Sweden during the coming weeks, months and years". While some Swedes say there is some truth to that, others feel it is too exaggerated and ignores the fact that Sweden is a place with a strong economy where many things work very well. That would create an opening for Ulf Kristersson, the leader of the opposition Moderates, to try to become the prime minister of an Alliance government. No party, as we have seen, holds a majority - and no realistic combination of parties in a coalition would (not even of the two biggest).

"This government has run its course", Kristersson told a party rally, referring to Lofven's minority cabinet.

Their success follow a rise in popularity for other far-right parties in Europe amid growing anxiety over national identity, the effects of globalization and fears over immigration boosted partly by conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa.

Later, the premier again commented on the migration issue in a column posted on his office's website. In 2015, Sweden, a country of 10.1 million people, took in more than 160,000 asylum-seekers.

The Sweden Democrats leader
Sweden Democrats party leader Jimmie Akesson

Sweden's economy is booming but many voters are concerned that housing, healthcare and welfare services have come under pressure from a wave of immigration during the 2015 migrant crisis. Since then anti-immigrant parties have made gains in Austria, Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary and Italy.

Sweden faced political deadlock on Monday after the far-right made gains in legislative elections whose result makes it tough to form a functioning government. So far, he has been rebuffed, but depending on the final vote count, there may be some give, especially since at the local level nearly all parties have already been working together with the Sweden Democrats for some time. It was formed in 2004 to counter decades of dominance by the Social Democrats. "On the contrary, we will do what we can to bring down any such government".

"Most pointed towards the Sweden Democrats taking over the position as the second-biggest party in Sweden".

That is kind of confusing for a lot of people, to say the least.

Lofven had urged Swedes not to vote for what he called a "racist party" as he cast his ballot Sunday. "But I'm not sure about the way of the Sweden Democrats. I think it's going to be a leftwing government".

Leaders in Brussels will be disappointed with the party's surge ahead of the European Parliament's elections in May next year, as they bid to discourage euroskepticism following the UK's decision to leave the EU, and as populist parties form alliances to shake up the EU establishment ahead of the vote.

The rise of the far-right in Europe is making it harder to form governments in many countries. "It is clear that the claim that the far-right is on an inexorable roll and will devour everything that stands in its way is false", said one European Union official.

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