Friday, 16 November, 2018

Voters in Sweden appear split amid immigration debate

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption Swedish teen's sit-in climate protest Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption Swedish teen's sit-in climate protest
Ray Hunter | 11 September, 2018, 07:41

This is up from up from 12.9 percent and 49 seats in the 2014 election, the biggest gain by any party in Sweden's parliament, reports Reuters.

"For now the red parties are bigger", he conceded, but he said he hoped that the advantage would shift to the right as the last overseas and preliminary votes were counted over the next few days.

For those predicting a decisive right-wing triumph, the ultimate result didn't quite live up to the hype.

But a lot of people are pointing out that only one in six Swedes actually voted for SD, and that the Swedish election was about a lot more than just immigration.

Instead, Sunday's results effectively provided no clear victor and no convenient or simple narrative to explain the shifts underway in Swedish politics.

Supporters of the far-right Sweden Democrats party react to exit polls in Stockholm on September 9, 2018.

Voters in Sweden made their views on immigration known Sunday in a general election that could strengthen a party with roots in the white supremacist movement if enough ballots were cast to protest an influx of newcomers to the historically heterogeneous nation. They come from a awful place, bad wars.

Moderate leader Kristersson has ruled this out, and the Centre and Liberal parties would probably not go along with the idea if the Sweden Democrats were given any significant say over policy while remaining outside the government.

He added: "It is clear that a cross-bloc coalition is needed to govern". This after an election campaign in which the Sweden Democrats were routinely branded as "racist" and "neo-Nazi" by their opponents-and by the global press. This year, however, the party surged to 17.6 percent as discontent among blue collar workers and men led to an upsurge in support.

Over 99 percent of the votes have been counted, but one question remains unanswered after the Swedish election.

The Moderates say they will form a coalition government and have called on Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, a Social Democrat, to step down. "So we really have to solve it now".

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"I know who won this election", said party leader Jimmie Akesson to a great jubilation from supporters.

One no longer defines oneself as a social democrat so much as votes for the party based on contextual factors. 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.

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 record levels of those seeking asylum in 2015 magnified worries about a welfare system in Sweden that many voters already believe is in crisis, even though refugee numbers have fallen sharply since then. "I think that it shows that people are disappointed with how the country is run, and they are rooting for something, they want something different, but it's not necessarily the best kind of different", he said of the far right's rise. And this wasn't just campaign speak.

SD, a nationalist far right party with tough anti-immigration stances, secured 62 seats in the 349 seat Swedish parliament.

Mainstream politicians have so far rebuffed him. But thanks to the Sweden Democrats, it became a question that couldn't go unanswered, Johan Hassel, the Social Democrats' global secretary, said after the vote.

Either some form of cooperation between the center-left and Alliance or an accommodation with the Sweden Democrats is likely to be necessary.

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.

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

With almost all votes counted on Monday, the ruling center-left Social Democrats and Greens and their Left Party parliamentary ally had 40.6 percent of the vote, while the opposition center-right Alliance was on 40.3 percent.

If neither side's coalition is able to put together a majority, and no major party is willing to cross ideological lines and form a new coalition, the center-right Moderates could theoretically look to unofficially cooperate with the Sweden Democrats (which would, of course, come with strings attached).

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