Sweden election sees gains for far-right, anti-immigrant party

10 September, 2018, 06:56 | Author: Carlos George
  • 17 2018 Jimmie Akesson leader of the Sweden Democrats campaigns in Sundsvall Sweden

Returns reported by the Scandinavian country's election commission showed the Sweden Democrats placing third in the parliamentary election held Sunday.

If Sweden takes a more restrictive approach to its borders, it would join other European countries in tightening migration rules, notably Italy, where a government coalition that includes the far-right League party came to power this year and began an ambitious campaign to discourage migration.

Meanwhile, the far-right Sweden Democrats, who have capitalized on voters' frustration over immigration after the country welcomed nearly 400,000 asylum seekers since 2012, were seen making steady gains, rising from 12.9 percent in 2014 to 17.6 percent.

Such an outcome could weaken the Swedish crown in the short term, but analysts do not see any long-term effect on markets from the election because economic growth is strong, government coffers are well stocked and there is broad agreement about the thrust of economic policy.

Swedish centre-right opposition leader Ulf Kristersson called on Social Democrat Prime Minister Stefan Lofven to step down on Sunday after preliminary election results showed his opposition Alliance coalition in a virtual dead heat with its centre-left rivals.

The results Sunday made it unlikely any single party would secure a majority of the 175 seats in the Riksdagen, Sweden's parliament.

That raised questions whether the parties might find a way for the far-right party to vote with the Moderates at least part of the time and helping to install a center-right leader in the prime minister's office.

Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Akesson has labelled the vote a choice between immigration and welfare.

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The record levels of asylum seekers 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.

"Terrible! I just wanna cry when I think about it", said Veronica Lundqvist, referring to the Sweden Democrats after she left a voting booth in central Stockholm. "They can't adjust to Sweden, and it's hard for them to get a job".

Svenska Dagbladet also reported that the far-right Alternative for Sweden party raised alleged election breaches by "shouting loud" on social media as soon as polls opened on Sunday.

"This government we have had now, they have prioritised, during these four years, asylum-seekers", Mr Akesson said, giving an exhaustive list of things he says the government has failed to do for Swedish society because of migrants.

While the results also fell short of leader Jimmie Akesson's predictions of 20 percent of the vote or more, he told a party rally it was nevertheless the victor of the election.

Marine Le Pen of France's far-right National Rally - formerly known as the National Front - hailed the Swedish party's rise, tweeting: "Yet another bad night ahead for the European Union. They're more direct", Elias, an 18-year-old voting in his first election, told AFP. "We won't mourn, we will organize ourselves", he said.

"It would send a big "go to hell" message to me and my kind", said Stefan Jovanovic, 26, a music business manager with roots in Serbia.

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