Far-right gains upend Swedish consensus

Far-right gains upend Swedish consensus

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven has rejected calls to resign and said that “nothing will be determined” on an election night with no clear winner, after major gains for the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats (SD).

Neither the centre-right or centre-left parties won a convincing victory with the SD the third-largest party before all votes have been counted.

SD leader Jimmie Akesson (pictured) said his party was the “real winners” of the election and would now have influence in the parliament, with a meeting with centre-right bloc leader Ulf Kristersson due today (Monday).

“We will gain huge influence over what happens in Sweden during the coming weeks, months and years,” Akesson told the party.

The SD wants Sweden to leave the European Union and freeze immigration.

Kristersson also called on Lofven to resign but rejected Akesson’s calls to make a deal.

“We have been completely clear during the whole election, the Alliance will not govern or discuss how to form a government with the Sweden Democrats,” the right-of-centre leader said.

But Lofven said he would continue to “calmly work” over the next two weeks when the parliament opens but acknowledged the election “should be the funeral for bloc politics”.

He said: “It is clear that a cross-bloc coalition is needed to govern.”

The mainstream parties now had a “moral responsibility” to form a government, and keep out a party he previously claimed had “roots in Nazism”.

In Sweden, an influx of 163,000 asylum seekers in 2015 (the most per capita in Europe in the country of 10 million) has polarised opinion and fractured the long-standing political consensus.

The SD, which has white supremacist roots, won 17.6 per cent of the vote, with the Moderates at 19.8 per cent.

The opinion polls were largely accurate although some online polling predicted the SD could become the largest party.

Akesson predicted his party would win at least 20 per cent of the vote.

Lofven’s Social Democrats received 28.4 per cent of the vote, which was estimated to mean a loss of 13 seats in the Riksdagen.

The ruling centre-left Social Democrats and Greens and their Left Party allies had 40.6-per-cent support, while the opposition centre-right Alliance had 40.3-per-cent backing.

The results gave the centre-left 144 seats in the 349-seat Riksdagen against 142 for the Alliance, suggesting weeks of talks will be needed to form a coalition.

The SD won 17.6 per cent and 63 seats, up from 12.9 per cent and 49 seats in the 2014 election, the biggest gain by any party.

Jimmie Akesson. Picture credit: Flickr

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