Swedish far-right party grows support, not by as much feared

11 September, 2018, 03:08 | Author: Carlos George
  • William Hahne vice chairman of the far-right

The long-dominant center-left Social Democrats dropped to their lowest standing in a century, but the night was not almost as much of a bloodbath for them as predicted: The party still won 28.4 percent of the vote, remaining the largest in Sweden. It gives the party 101 seats in the parliament, a record low result.

Prime Minister Stefan Lofven invited the center-right opposition Alliance to talks aimed at a "cross-bloc cooperation", after his Social Democrats remained the biggest party with 28.4 percent of votes, its weakest election score in a century.

An exit polls by public broadcaster SVT suggested the centre-right Alliance got 39.6% of the vote, slightly more than the Social Democrats on 39.4%. "It's going to be the same politics, nothing's going to change".

Does this result change any of the parties' pre-election positions?

Like other far-right parties in Europe, the Sweden Democrats worked to soften its neo-Nazi image in the lead-up to the election. Moderate party secretary, Gunnar Strommer, said after the exit polls were published that he thinks "it's pretty clear" Lofven will need to resign.

Sweden now looks set for some complicated talks about which side can form a workable goverment.

The results were largely in line with the conventional opinion polls tracked by Reuters in the run-up to the election but well below some online surveys that had predicted the Sweden Democrats could become the largest party.

In a previous EUROPP article, Anders Hellström has assessed the importance of the Sweden Democrats for the 2018 election, and how their policies on immigration and crime have influenced the other major Swedish parties.

The Alliance would need the far-right's support to obtain a majority in parliament, and would have to either make policy concessions in exchange for the Sweden Democrats' support or offer key positions on parliamentary committees that draft legislation.

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The opposition Moderate party is also unable to take over because even an established alliance with the centre-right parties doesn't make up the numbers needed for a majority.

However, both of the main parties have previously said that they will not form a coalition with Akesson's faction, meaning that a minority government, grand coalition or prolonged political crisis are all on the table. In many ways, though, they still came out as the vote's biggest winners.

JONATHAN NACKSTRAND via Getty Images Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven addresses an election campaign rally attended by Spain's prime minister in Enkoping, Sweden, on September 5, 2018.

The two large parties have lost votes in a further fragmentation of the party system. "Only 30,000 votes separate the two blocs and 200,000 more votes from overseas are to be counted on Wednesday", said David Ahlin, opinions chief at the market research company Ipsos.

The Sweden Democrats only hope to get any influence in the Swedish Government is if the centre-right bloc would form a new coalition with the anti-immigration party.

"That frankly, is an extremely implausible scenario - why would the left bloc consent to an Alliance government when the left bloc is actually a touch bigger than the alliance?"

If the right-wingers were included in the conservative bloc, there would be a large conservative majority in this election, but so far the Sweden Democrats have not formed any coalition.

Clifford said the ruling Social Democrats could receive their worst results since 1908 and all parties had said they will not be collaborating with the ruling party, meaning any new regime would have to deal with a fragmented parliament.

"The leader made the point that they are now a force to be reckoned with. That's what you basically had in Sweden", said Sheri Berman, a professor of politics at Barnard College. And so those two factors have really served to underpin the isolation of the Sweden Democrats. "It's not just about what happened two years ago when we had a lot of refugees".

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