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

Frederick Owens
September 10, 2018

The Moderate party is determined to oust Löfven, with some openly entertaining the once-unimaginable idea of bringing the Sweden Democrats in from the political cold if that would help.

The latest opinion poll conducted by pollster Novus for public broadcaster SVT suggested Friday that Lofven's ruling Social Democrats would lose a substantial number of seats, but emerge with about one-fourth of the vote - the most support predicted for any party.

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

A preliminary count in Sweden's general election on Sunday shows a populist, anti-immigrant party making gains in parliament at the expense of the nation's governing center-left coalition.

He called on Ulf Kristersson, the center-right Alliance's candidate for the premiership, to choose between seeking support from the Sweden Democrats for an Alliance government or to accept another four years of Social Democrat Prime Minister Stefan Lofven.

The Swedish government has allowed 163,000 migrants into the country, which had a population of 10m in 2015, meaning it was the highest intake per capita of any European nation.

With a steady rise in popularity of the Sweden Democrats, immigration has become the hot topic of the election.

The potentially promising prospects of the far-right Sweden Democrats had many other Swedes anxious about an erosion of the humanitarian values that have always been a foundation of the Scandinavian country's identity.

However, Stefan Lofven, the Swedish prime minister, will have heaved a sigh of relief at the disappointing result for the nationalist Sweden Democrats, .

The Sweden Democrat's Akesson has labeled the vote a choice between immigration and welfare in election campaign that has been unusually antagonistic.

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"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.

Meanwhile, refugee aid associations said they have noted "anxiety" among asylum seekers over the far-right's surge.

In an interview with AFP during the campaign, Akesson stressed he would "lay down his terms" after the election, citing immigration policy, crime-fighting and health care as priorities.

Sweden, recognized for its open-door immigration policy, has always been a destination for refugees.

The leader of Sweden's Liberal Party, Jan Bjorklund, reiterated his rejection of any cooperation with SD.

"I think we are facing an extremely complicated process to form a government, maybe the most complicated in modern times", said political scientist Niklas Bohlin at the Mid Sweden University.

Arrivals dropped the following year to levels seen in previous years.

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.

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

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