Wednesday, 26 September, 2018

Swedish election: far right on course for sizeable gains in vote

Jan Bjorklund Jonas Sjostedt Annie Loof and Jimmie Akesson Stockholm 2018 Swedish right and left neck-and-neck as anti-immigration party gains
Charlie Simmons | 10 September, 2018, 09:40

The results were largely in line with the conventional opinion polls tracked by Reuters in the run-up to the election but well below some online surveys that had predicted the Sweden Democrats could become the largest party.

An exit poll has indicated that Sweden's first general election since the Scandinavian country accepted a significant number of asylum-seekers was likely to have the centre-left party governing now as its victor, with an anti-immigrant party with white supremacist roots coming second.

A radical right wing group with a neo-Nazi past was set to become Sweden's second largest party on Sunday night, after exit polls suggested it had won almost 20 per cent of the vote.

The poll indicated the Sweden Democrats - led by Jimmie Akesson - would get 19.1 per cent of the vote compared to the 13-per cent support received in 2014.

It was unlikely any single party would secure a majority of the 175 seats in the Riksdagen, Sweden's parliament.

The process of forming a stable government out of the deadlocked parliament could take weeks and, potentially, end in failure.

In Sweden, an influx of 163,000 asylum seekers in 2015 - the most in Europe relative to the country's population of 10 million - has polarised voters and fractured the political consensus.

Acrimony between the two main political blocs has defined Swedish politics for decades, and the rise of the Sweden Democrats - long a pariah grouping in parliament - has hugely complicated the political landscape.

Many Swedes began to worry about an erosion of "humanitarian values" as the Sweden Democrat party rose in popularity.

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Current Prime Minister and leader of the centre-left bloc Stefan Lofven has said moderate parties have a "moral responsibility" to form a government to avoid the Sweden Democrats gaining any influence.

During a heated debate among party leaders on Friday, Mr Akesson caused a stir by blaming migrants for the difficulties they often have in finding employment and not adjusting to Sweden.

"This government we have had now, they have prioritised, during these four years, asylum-seekers", Mr Akesson said, giving an exhaustive list of things he says the government has failed to do for Swedish society because of migrants.

Other parties vowed they would not work with the far right to form a coalition government. About 6,300 candidates sought the four-year terms. "We need tight responsible immigration policies".

"Terrible! I just wanna cry when I think about it", said Veronica Lundqvist, referring to the Sweden Democrats after she left a voting booth in central Stockholm.

Around 18.5 percent of Sweden's population of 10 million was born overseas, according to Statistics Sweden.

People watch and react at the Social Democratic Party's election party in Stockholm.

Polls showed established parties losing some support, including the centre-left parties which earlier favoured open-door policies.

The Social Democrats and its allies have tried to appease anti-migrant sentiment in the country by urging more integration programs and resources for refugees in marginalized communities, and to help them access education. "No one can take that away from us", he said, according to The Guardian.

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