Sweden's ruling party hits election low as far right grows

Jimmie Akesson

Sweden goes to the polls with far-right group with neo-Nazi roots tipped to become largest party

This feeling can easily be seen in what Tobias Andersson, the head of the party's youth wing, said : "Voters want to see more action". He, like the other party leaders, has ruled out any cooperation with the far-right.

Roth said "this election result is unfortunately a turning point for Sweden and Europe".

That same scenario has played out similarly in countries across Europe, where traditional left and right parties have employed similar strategies to regain voters from populist parties, largely without success.

The party with roots in the neo-Nazi movement has called the arrival of nearly 400,000 asylum seekers since 2012 a threat to Swedish culture, and claims they are straining Sweden's generous welfare state. The opposition parties that make up the so-called Alliance bloc had 39.6 per cent, while the Sweden Democrats garnered 19.2 per cent. In 2010, the year it first entered parliament, it won only 5.7 percent of the vote.

"In some sense we're happy the Sweden Democrats didn't grow more than they did", Liberal Party lawmaker Allan Widman told Reuters. He has done a great deal to sanitise the party, kicking out radical members, he now believes the main parties need to look to them and do work with them.

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.

The Social Democrats and the Moderates have said they will not consider the Sweden Democrats, a party with roots in the neo-Nazi fringe, as a coalition partner.

Prime minister and party leader of the Social Democrat party Stefan Löfven waves at an election party in Stockholm, on Sunday.

Sweden faced political deadlock on Monday after the far-right made gains in legislative elections whose result makes it tough to form a functioning government.

The Sweden Democrats have been championing closed borders for years and want to severely restrict immigration and integration. And as the complicated, likely drawn-out process of building a government begins, they're the bloc standing in each coalition's way of reaching a majority.

The Sweden Democrats remain the third-biggest party - failing to overtake the Moderates - and were credited with 17.6 percent of the vote, below the 20 to 30 percent Akesson had hoped to win.

Sweden saw itself as a "humanitarian superpower" for years, but a rise in gang violence in immigrant-dominated, deprived city suburbs has also won support for the Sweden Democrats.

With most votes counted the biggest party (on 28 per cent) is still the ruling centre-left Social Democrats, the oldest and biggest party in Sweden, bleeding from the elderly working class part of its base but still a power.

"Most pointed towards the Sweden Democrats taking over the position as the second-biggest party in Sweden".

Akesson was jubilant as he addressed supporters a day later, declaring the estimated 14 parliament seats the Social Democrats picked up a victory other parties could not ignore in coalition negotiations.

Over 99 percent of the votes have been counted, but one question remains unanswered after the Swedish election. In most other countries, these parties were swept away by the tides of history.

But the four-party Alliance rejected his invite, calling on Lofven to step down and make way for them to build a government. Both parties are joined by a number of smaller fringe parties in forming their respective coalition blocs.

Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Akesson has labelled the vote a choice between immigration and welfare. Many allege that immigrants were behind the massive auto bombing spree in August, which saw 160 cars torched.

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. Emilia Orpana said she and another party supporter were threatened by two young men who called them 'damned racists'.

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