Swedish far-right leader says party 'won' vote

11 September, 2018, 07:41 | Author: Lucy Floyd
  • Ulf Kristersson the leader of the Moderates shakes hands with a voter

Dr Ben Wellings, a senior lecturer in politics and global relations at Monash University, told SBS News the result was "part of an emerging picture [in Europe] where support for radical right parties is creeping upwards".

Swedish voters angry about crime and migration on Sunday delivered a blow to two centrist parties that have traded power for decades, but an insurgent far-right party still fell short of capturing a commanding position inside the parliament.

All the smaller parties, except the Greens, improved on their 2014 results at the expense of the two larger parties. In most other countries, these parties were swept away by the tides of history.

Just 30,000 votes separated the two blocs. The Conservatives were the biggest losers, down 3.5% compared to 2014.

"What happens is that xenophobia, racism, anti-immigration ideas become more recognized and legitimate. because the big parties, the power-holding parties are jumping on them", said Emilia Palonen, an expert on populism at the University of Helsinki.

Social Democrat prime minister Stefan Lofven pledged on Sunday evening to remain prime minister of Sweden, with the general elections giving his centre-left bloc 144 seats in the Swedish parliament, the Riksdagen - one more mandate than the centre-right opposition alliance's 143 seats. While this performance was much better than predicted in pre-election polls, it is the party's poorest result since 1908.

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He said the election result marked "the death of bloc politics" in Sweden.

Neither can win the confidence of the 349-seat parliament without the SD's 62 votes. This means that a minority can govern, as long as it doesn't have a majority against it in the Riksdag.

In a very tight race, Sweden's centre-left bloc received 40.6 percent of the vote, slightly more than the centre-right bloc, which won 40.2 percent. And in the meantime, all the parties refuse to talk to the Sweden Democrats.

But a grand coalition would have to involve at least three parties, making for a painful coalition negotiation. Speculation about viable options includes a combination of the Social Democrats, the Centre Party and Liberal Party, with parliamentary support from the Greens and the Left Party.

He is backed as candidate for the premiership by the Centre party (8.6 percent), the Liberals (5.5 percent) and the Christian Democrats (6.4 percent).

What sets the Sweden Democrats apart is their appeal to the Nordic equivalent of the Trump electorate: their support comes disproportionately from men, the less educated, middle-income earners, the self-employed, and (especially) people with blue collar jobs.

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This fragmentation is part of a wider trend of political volatility in Europe.

"The election is between potential democracy and potential facism", he told AFP.

Its strong rhetoric has shocked many Swedes. This suggests that political identity is being diluted.

Still, the Swedish election underscored a broader shift to the right in one of Europe's most socially progressive nations. An exit poll ranking the issues citizens placed at the top of their agenda saw classic welfare topics such as healthcare, education, gender equality, law and order and elderly care come out on top.

The Alliance would need the Sweden Democrats to back a vote to oust Lofven and install Kristersson. It could also be read as a damning verdict on the current government, which appears to have failed to deliver the quality of public services Swedes expect.

Michael Roth, a deputy foreign minister, was quoted as telling Monday's edition of German daily Die Welt it's good that pro-European parties which support an open and liberal society still have a clear majority.

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So - why won't the Sweden Democrats form a coalition Government? So far, he has been rebuffed, but depending on the final vote count, there may be some give, especially since at the local level nearly all parties have already been working together with the Sweden Democrats for some time.

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