Anti-immigration party set for poll gains as Sweden swings right

Larry Hoffman
September 13, 2018

Voters handed Sweden's ruling party its worst-ever election result Sunday and delivered a parallel lift to a far-right party with white supremacist roots, leaving the ideological outline of the Scandinavian country's next government uncertain.

Timo Soini (BR), the Minister for Foreign Affairs, says Sweden's election results reflect public disappointment with traditional political blocs and their immigration policy.

Lofven had urged Swedes not to vote for what he called a "racist party" as he cast his ballot on Sunday.

This breaking news story is being updated and more details will be published shortly.

Social Democratic Prime Minister Stefan Lofven has called the election a "referendum on the future of the welfare state" but the far-right Sweden Democrats (SD) have presented it as vote on immigrants and their integration, after Sweden took in nearly 400,000 asylum seekers since 2012.

"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.

"Dark forces are mobilizing in Sweden", Lofven said in his final rally on the eve of the election.

But in order to secure a centre-right majority in parliament, Kristersson would have to put an end to the Sweden Democrats' pariah status and open negotiations with them. With deadlock looming, it could take weeks to form a government.

The Swedish government in 2015 allowed 163,000 migrants into the country with a population of 10 million.

The Sweden Democrats are bidding to become the biggest populist party in the Nordic region, topping the Danish People's Party, which gained 21 per cent in 2015, and trump the 12.6 pe rcent for the far-right Alternative for Germany, which swept into the Bundestag previous year.

Lofven eventually said Sweden no longer could cope with the influx and immigration laws were tightened. The party symbol was switched from a flame thrower to a flower.

SD leader Jimmie Akesson has claimed that Sweden has been "an extreme country in many ways, not least when it comes to immigration" and that his plan to accept fewer refugees would be regarded as "normal politics in the rest of Europe".

Akesson was jubilant as he addressed supporters a day later, declaring the estimated 14 parliament seats the Social Democrats picked up a victory other parties could not ignore in coalition negotiations.

Mattias, a Stockholm resident at an election night party in the city, said he was "extremely concerned" about the far right's steady climb since it entered parliament in 2006 with 5.7 per cent.

Akesson has said he would demand a curbing of immigration policy in exchange for his support, or key positions on parliamentary committees that draft legislation.

"This party has increased and made the biggest gains".

Olsen reported from Copenhagen, Denmark.

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