Sweden election: Political deadlock likely after gains by far-right party

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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.

The ruling Social Democrats remained the biggest party with 40.6 percent of votes, marginally ahead of the centre-right Alliance, which garnered 40.3 percent in the polls, results showed after most votes were counted on Monday.

However, although these two blocs continue to be discussed in relation to the 2018 election, the arrangements are now far looser than they once were, in part because the rise of the Sweden Democrats has had an important impact on the Swedish party system.

At any rate, he said, it was time for Sweden's political parties to bring an end to their refusal to negotiate and form deals with the Sweden Democrats.

The liberal party's losses are at least partly self-inflicted.

Still, the Swedish election underscored a broader shift to the right in one of Europe's most socially progressive nations.

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While most pollsters see the two blocs winning roughly equal support, the figures for the Sweden Democrats differ widely between surveys. Another voter indicated that she was scared of what support for the Sweden Democrats might mean for the country, stating that "the future of our lovely open society is threatened".

At the Swedish Democrat's election eve rally Saturday, party leader Jimmie Akesson criticized Lofven's government for "prioritizing" the needs of new immigrants the ones of Swedish citizens. Even some of their radical proposals and views found their way into the public debate.

Many Swedes have begun to worry about an erosion of "humanitarian values", which has helped the Sweden Democrat party rise in popularity. He has categorically ruled out any cooperation with the far-right.

"In Sweden we live in a false dictatorship because none of the other parties will ever let the Sweden Democrats have any power", he complained, as his colleague Adin shook his head in amused disagreement. "Then it is only natural to work across the political divide to make it possible to govern Sweden", he said. "It is clear that the claim that the far-right is on an inexorable roll and will devour everything that stands in its way is false", said one European Union official. Although Sweden has real struggles with regional inequality, social change and increasing violence, overall crime rates have dropped, the country is witnessing the highest economic growth in decades and income has increased across the board. While Sweden is home to just 10 million people, the country accepted over 160,000 refugees. For me, when he is saying that immigrants are not welcome to Sweden ... he is trying to spread hate between the people.

Immigration has been a central issue of the campaign. Previous year in October, almost seven months after the March election, prime minister Mark Rutte pulled together a shaky coalition of four parties on a centre-right programme.

"The most likely situation will be that the Alliance will form a coalition together and try to seek cross-bloc support".

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"The parties who have been true to their ideological grounds ― they are the only parties who have raised in support".

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

There was a sense of relief among supporters of mainstream parties about the far-right's less dramatic gains.

Akesson has said he would demand a curbing of immigration policy in exchange for his support, or key positions on parliamentary committees that draft legislation.

"It's not that they are shy voters, but that they are distrustful of the polling agencies", said Henrik Ekengren Oscarsson, a professor in political science at Gothenburg University.

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. They come from a awful place, bad wars.

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