Sweden election results: Sweden Democrats make huge gains

Sweden election results: Sweden Democrats make huge gains

Vote: Jimmie Akesson, leader of Sweden Democrats party, seals his ballot at a polling station in Stockholm yesterday.

The governing centre-left bloc had a razor-thin edge over the centre-right opposition Alliance, with roughly 40 per cent each.

The anti-migrant and EU-critical Sweden Democrats came third, with 17.6 percent of the vote - a strong gain of 4-6 percent, but not as much as predicted in many polls ahead of the elections.

The scenario of a bipartisan coalition is highly uncertain.

Both of the main blocs have refused to govern with the SD, although its leader said he was prepared to talk with all other parties.

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

"This government has run its course", Kristersson told a party rally, referring to Lofven's minority cabinet.

The preliminary results suggest the Sweden Democrats have fallen short of expectation and that voters have not been as receptive to their anti-immigration rhetoric as it may have seemed.

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Both sides laid claim to being best placed to form a government, although votes from Swedes living overseas are not due to be declared until Wednesday and these could still sway the final outcome slightly.

Note: The Left (V) is treated as part of the broad Red-Green bloc, but it is not part of the incumbent Social Democrat/Green Party government.

With one major caveat: the Center and Liberals are members of the Alliance, together with the Moderates and Christian Democrats. It was formed in 2004 to counter decades of dominance by the Social Democrats.

The Social Democrats are still the largest party, but they do not have the commanding lead of 20 years ago, and it is unclear right now whether they can form a government.

Sweden uses a system of proportional representation, under which each party is allocated a number of seats in each constituency that is broadly in line with its share of the vote.

Current prime minister Stefan Lofven, who brought the Social Democrats to power in 2014, has said he has no plans to leave his job. 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.

Mr Lofven's bloc holds 144 seats and the Alliance holds one less. Results from the vote will become clear later in the evening.

Lengthy negotiations will follow to attempt to form a workable government. The northern Republican Party was often strongly anti-immigrant-before World War One.

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Parliament opens on September 25. "I think that there won't be a shift in power", she said.

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. That doesn't mean that mainstream media outlets should always attach the qualifier "with neo-Nazi roots" every time they mention the party.

"Nevertheless, voters made the Social Democrats Sweden's biggest party", Lofven said.

"Lofven had called the election a "referendum on the future of the welfare state", but the far right presented it as a vote on immigrants and their integration".

If the Sweden Democrats win a quarter of the vote, it would be a sensation in a country described as a "humanitarian superpower" in 2014 by the prime minister of the time, the Moderate party's Fredrik Reinfeldt.

The far-right party further benefited from establishment parties' lack of attention to its rhetoric.

It has been working to rebrand itself, changing its logo from a flaming torch (similar to the one used by the United Kingdom far-right National Front) to a blue-and-yellow daisy, the colours of the Swedish flag. "Everything is about us", Akesson said. What is considered legitimate and what is considered illegitimate to say and do are relatively narrow in Sweden, particularly on some questions.

The move has polarised voters and fractured the long-standing political consensus.

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