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Sweden faces political deadlock after far-right gains

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Sweden faces political deadlock after far-right gains

By Johan Sennero and Helena Soderpalm

 

2018-09-09T145412Z_1_LYNXNPEE880HR_RTROPTP_4_SWEDEN-ELECTION.JPG

People wait to cast their votes at a polling station in Malmo, Sweden September 9, 2018. TT News Agency/Johan Nilsson via REUTERS

 

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden headed for a hung parliament after an election on Sunday that saw the popularity of the nationalist Sweden Democrats surge, as one of Europe's most liberal nations turns right amid fears over immigration.

 

Far-right parties have made spectacular gains throughout Europe in recent years amid growing anxiety over national identity and the effects of globalisation and immigration following armed conflict in the Middle East and North Africa.

 

In Sweden, an influx of 163,000 asylum seekers in 2015 - the most in Europe in relation to the country's population of 10 million - has polarised voters and fractured the political consensus.

 

Partial results, with some 80 percent of districts counted, showed the ruling centre-left Social Democrats and Greens and their Left Party parliamentary allies winning 40.6 percent of the vote, while the opposition centre-right Alliance were seen at 40.1 percent.

 

The Sweden Democrats, a party founded by white supremacists, rose to 17.8 percent from 12.9 percent in the last election four years ago, in effect securing the balance of power.

 

Still, their result looked set to fall short of their own leaders' predictions of a vote of 20 percent or more.

 

Nevertheless, their leader Jimmie Akesson told a party rally: "We will gain huge influence over what happens in Sweden during the coming weeks, months and years".

 

With neither main political bloc able to command a majority, the Sweden Democrats, who want the country to leave the European Union and put a freeze on immigration, could play a decisive role in negotiations over forming a government that look set to be complex and drawn-out.

 

Akesson challenged Ulf Kristersson, the centre-right Alliance's candidate for the premiership, to choose between seeking support from the Sweden Democrats and the incumbent Social Democrat prime minister, Stefan Lofven.

 

EUROSCEPTICS ON THE RISE

 

The election will add to concerns in Brussels as the European Union enters campaign mode ahead of the European Parliament election in May, which could give more voice to eurosceptic groups and thwart efforts at closer EU integration.

 

The record levels of asylum seeks in 2015 magnified worries about a welfare system that many voters already believe is in crisis, even though refugee numbers have fallen sharply since then.

 

Lengthening queues for critical operations, shortages of doctors and teachers and the failures of police to deal with inner-city gang violence have shaken faith in the "Swedish model", built on a promise of comprehensive welfare and social inclusion.

 

Akesson had labelled the vote a choice between immigration and welfare in a campaign that was unusually antagonistic.

 

Voting in central Stockholm, student Katze Collmar, 32, said the campaign had been "really unpleasant":

 

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

 

Mainstream politicians have so far ruled out cooperation with the Sweden Democrats.

 

But centre-left and centre-right parties face an uphill battle in trying to form a viable coalition government, following decades of acrimony between the two blocs that have defined Swedish politics for decades.

 

The Sweden Democrats have promised to sink any government that refuses to give them a say in policy, particularly on immigration.

 

GRAPHIC - Swedish general election opinion polls: https://tmsnrt.rs/2LmSZFD

 

GRAPHIC - Sweden economy overview: https://tmsnrt.rs/2LmSZFD

 

(Additional reporting by Stockholm newsroom, and Reuters TV; Writing by Justyna Pawlak and Niklas Pollard; Editing by David Evans and Kevin Liffey)

 
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-- © Copyright Reuters 2018-09-10

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The Sweden Democrats came in third.

4 hours ago, manarak said:

not a bad result - at least it guarantees that the worries of a significant part of the population will be taken into account.

 

3 hours ago, Destiny1990 said:

Incredible how governments like Sweden did not learn from mistakes of other European governments!!

 

25 minutes ago, Mikeasq60 said:

Sweden your future falls on the right taking this election. Whats happening in your country now? Because of liberal policies that European countries are seeing was a mistake. Thailand what would happen if you followed Europe, and Sweden's policies? It would never happen right!

Let's not get too carried away. The Sweden Democrats came in third. Their share of the vote increased by 4.9 percent from 4 years ago. Hardly a surge.

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25 minutes ago, bristolboy said:

The Sweden Democrats came in third.

 

 

Let's not get too carried away. The Sweden Democrats came in third. Their share of the vote increased by 4.9 percent from 4 years ago. Hardly a surge.

True, but because the red and blue blocks are very even, none of them will be able to implement their policies without involving Sweden Democrats. Definitely a win for SD.

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12 minutes ago, SpaceKadet said:

True, but because the red and blue blocks are very even, none of them will be able to implement their policies without involving Sweden Democrats. Definitely a win for SD.

right,

and their coop will not come cheap

 

the two centre blocks could of course coop in order to keep SD out (would be somewhat odd though)

 

seems like centre blue will be the larger block,

seeking some form of coop with SD may easily lead to the block being reduced

because some parties in the block may flatly refuse to discuss any kind of coop from SD and walk out of the block

 

either of the two largest parties could of course try to rule as a minority government

 

things have been easier

 

 

 

 

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26 minutes ago, melvinmelvin said:

right,

and their coop will not come cheap

 

the two centre blocks could of course coop in order to keep SD out (would be somewhat odd though)

Sweden can do what Finland did before. We gave our own far left party members cabinet positions and they became rather tame. On top of that the party with cabinet responsibility broke down to smaller parties.  

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1 hour ago, SpaceKadet said:

Yes, things have certainly been easier. And whatever happens on Wednesday, it will not make it easier.

maybe even worse,

early votes and votes from abroad have a tendency to be more on the conservative side

 

ie the two centre blocks coming even closer in votes and seats

 

Edited by melvinmelvin

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1 hour ago, oilinki said:

Sweden can do what Finland did before. We gave our own far left party members cabinet positions and they became rather tame. On top of that the party with cabinet responsibility broke down to smaller parties.  

Good point.

 

The vast majority of politicians are only interested in the money and power - so are easily 'neutralised' when given that which they crave.

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36 minutes ago, dick dasterdly said:

Good point.

 

The vast majority of politicians are only interested in the money and power - so are easily 'neutralised' when given that which they crave.

And you base that assertion on?

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1 hour ago, dick dasterdly said:

Good point.

 

The vast majority of politicians are only interested in the money and power - so are easily 'neutralised' when given that which they crave.

 

problem is that if any of the two largest parties did that they would (almost certain) not have a majority any more,

because their supporters in the red/blue block would leave the block as soon as coop with SD surfaces

 

there are too many fractions in Sweden that flatly refuses to have anything what so ever to do with SD,

that makes life very difficult re forming a government

 

what you see here is shortcomings in democracy at work

 

Edited by melvinmelvin

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