Sweden election results: Sweden Democrats make huge gains

Employment and economy key to growth of Sweden Democrats research

The distribution of votes means that any minority government would either have to somehow secure support from a party in the opposite bloc or work with the Sweden Democrats.

The governing center-left bloc has a razor-thin edge over the center-right opposition Alliance, with roughly 40 percent each.

However, others say the Sweden Democrats are trying to fix a historical problem.

When 17.6 percent of the electorate in a sensible country like Sweden vote for an outsider party, the political elite should sit up and take notice.

Despite their successes, the Sweden Democrats remain an unlikely coalition partner for the other parties.

Claiming a kingmaker role for this party, Jimmie Åkesson, leader of the Sweden Democrats, said in a speech at his campaign headquarters that his party will now have "influence over Swedish politics". "We need a cross-bloc cooperation", he told his party supporters.

While the results need to be taken with caution - the votes of Swedish expats living overseas are not included yet and will only be released sometime this week, it seems clear already: the right-wing "populists" once again performed well, while finding a government will be tough for everyone involved.

Susanne Madsen, 61, another Social Democrat voter, was confident Sweden's current prime minister, Stefan Löfven, would stay in place.

The party, with roots in the neo-Nazi movement, called the arrival of immigrants to Sweden a threat to the country's culture, European news network The Local reported. But as the issue continued to gain relevance, the Sweden Democrats' position gained traction. If that person fails to form a government, it opens the door to fresh elections within three months.

"What they [the polls] do conclusively show, though, is that the worst case scenario that many Swedes had feared, that the far-right Sweden Democrats party might edge into first place, has not come to pass", he added.

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

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"If the red-green bloc is bigger, the Centre and the Liberals hold the key and not Jimmie Akesson", the Sweden Democrat leader, said University of Gothenburg political science professor Mikael Gilliam on Swedish public radio.

Unless parties on the centre-left and centre-right break ranks with their blocs, it is likely to be impossible to form a stable government without some kind of support from the Sweden Democrats, who want the country to leave the European Union and freeze immigration.

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 percent.

Mr. Akesson challenged Mr. Kristersson to choose between seeking support from the Sweden Democrats for an Alliance government or accepting four more years of Mr. Lofven as prime minister.

The party presented the vote on Sunday as a ballot on immigration and integration.

Over 99 percent of the votes have been counted, but one question remains unanswered after the Swedish election. They'll "have to face the facts", Andersson said.

A new election will be called if parliament doesn't agree on a prime minister after four attempts.

But it's also interesting to note that immigration may not have turned out to be quite such an important factor to voters than expected.

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. Among other things, the party no longer advocates for reintroducing the death penalty or for limiting the adoption of non-Nordic children.

The biggest victor of this election were the Sweden Democrats, a populist party whose program has a strong focus on nationalism and social conservatism.

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