Tuesday, 25 September, 2018

Sweden PM invites opposition to talks as far-right make election gains

People stand in voting booths during a general election in Stockholm Sweden Sweden faces political deadlock after far-right gains
Lisa Bryan | 10 September, 2018, 09:41

The centre-right Moderate Party is set to take to take third place with 17.7 per cent.

The latest opinion poll conducted by pollster Novus for public broadcaster SVT suggested Friday that Lofven's ruling Social Democrats would substantially lose seats, but still emerge as the party with the most votes with an estimated 24.9 per cent of the ballots.

Partial results from Sunday's vote, with some 80 per cent of districts counted, show 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 were seen at 40.1 per cent.

As a result, neither mainstream party will secure an outright majority in parliament, Reuters reported.

That raised questions whether the parties might find a way for the far-right party to vote with the Moderates at least part of the time and helping to install a center-right leader in the prime minister's office. Sunday's general election was the first since the country of 10 million took in a record 163,000 refugees in 2015 as mass migration to Europe rose dramatically.

The polls showed far-right, anti-immigration Sweden Democrats would get 19.1 percent of the votes.

The potential of a surge by the party had many Swedes anxious about an erosion of the humanitarian values that have always been a foundation of their country's identity.

Stefan Lofven, leader of the Social Democratic Party and Ulf Kristersson, leader of the Moderate Party during a televised debate.

"Now we will gain influence in Swedish politics for real", Sweden Democrat Jimmie Akesson told a cheering crowd of supporters as the results came in.

A ballot envelope is put in ballot box at a polling station in Tomelilla Sweden

At the party's rally on Saturday, he strongly criticised Mr Lofven's government for "prioritising" the cause of immigrants over the needs of citizens.

The Sweden Democrats, with roots in the neo-Nazi movement, has said the large number of asylum-seekers presents a threat to Swedish culture and claims they put a strain on the country's generous welfare state.

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

With an eye on the European Parliament elections next year, Brussels policymakers are watching the Swedish vote closely, concerned that a nation with impeccable democratic credentials could add to the growing chorus of euroscepticism in the EU.

Moderates leader Ulf Kristersson meanwhile said that after the election, Sweden would need "a strong cross-bloc cooperation to isolate the forces. pushing for Sweden to withdraw from global cooperation".

But with some kind of cooperation between parties in the centre-left and centre-right blocs the only other alternative to the current political deadlock, analysts believe that Akesson may yet end up with some influence on policy.

"We have a moral responsibility".

About 6300 candidates sought the four-year terms.

"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. "Integration is one of the biggest questions for the future in Sweden".


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