Swedish election yields a hung assembly

Hannah Rogers
September 11, 2018

Instead, Sunday's results effectively provided no clear victor and no convenient or simple narrative to explain the shifts underway in Swedish politics. With almost all votes counted on Monday, the ruling center-left Social Democrats and Greens and their Left Party parliamentary ally had 40.6 percent of the vote, while the opposition centre-right Alliance was on 40.3 percent.

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. They kept Sweden out of World War One, out of World War Two, and out of the Cold War.

The Expressen tabloid said in editorial that "it all pointed at the Sweden Democrats taking over the position as Sweden's second-biggest party".

Prime Minister Stefan Lofven's ruling center-left bloc maintained a slight lead with 40.6% of the vote, with the center-right alliance winning 40.3%. Another impressive feat is that although the party was founded only 30 years ago and had roots in the country's fascist and white nationalist movements, it still managed to triple its support in just two election cycles. The poll gave the party 19.2 percent of the vote.

"This government we have had now. they have prioritised, during these four years, asylum-seekers", Akesson said, giving an exhaustive list of things he says the government has failed to do for Swedish society because of migrants. It is obvious, he continued, "that the people in Sweden have realized the real difficulties we are facing".

All parties in the centre-right alliance have pledged ahead of the election to not base a new government on support from the Sweden Democrats. "Everything is about us", its leader Jimmie Akesson said on election night.

The election had been watched closely for signs about the extent to which a cascade of anti-immigrant fear could hit even Sweden, which has always been one of Europe's most open nations toward refugees.

Far-right parties have gained strength in elections in recent years in several European countries, including Germany and Italy.

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Sweden took in more asylum seekers per capita than any other country in Europe in 2015, magnifying worries about a welfare system that many voters already believe is in crisis. But the process could take weeks and possibly fail, with the Sweden Democrats vowing to sink any cabinet that doesn't give them a say in policy.

Rather than copying the far-right's emotional appeals toward identity and its criticism of the state, mainstream parties should offer voters fresh alternatives, Berman said.

Given this backdrop, Dr Wellings said he was actually surprised the Sweden Democrats did not capture even more of the vote. "[The Social Democrats] had been seen as too polite, too open, and too much embracing of globalization and migration".

"That really puts the onus on those blocs to try to find a stable governing solution that might just involve the Sweden Democrats in some way, but more likely, probably won't".

If the right-wingers were included in the conservative bloc, there would be a large conservative majority in this election, but so far the Sweden Democrats have not formed any coalition.

Earlier, the leader of the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats, Jimmie Akesson, indicated he was ready for potential coalition talks, but challenged Kristersson to choose between seeking support from his party and PM's Social Democrats. "I think that the biggest bloc should get it, but they need to have some form of cooperation".

At any rate, he said, it was time for Sweden's political parties to bring an end to their refusal to negotiate and form deals with the Sweden Democrats. "Before, it was not OK to say to someone, "You should go back home where you come from.' It was not OK", Sundstrom of the Olof Palme International Center said".

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