The Swedish right-wing appeared poised to oust the left-wing bloc headed by Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson in Sunday’s general election with strong gains for the far right, clinging to a narrow margin with 94 percent of constituencies counted.
The right-wing bloc won a majority of 176 of the 349 seats in parliament, with the left-wing bloc gaining 173 seats.
As the voting date approaches, electoral authorities said they do not expect a final result until Wednesday when the last votes from abroad and from pre-voting have been counted.
“We’re not going to get a final result tonight,” Anderson told her jubilant supporters as the result hung in the air, calling on Swedes to “be patient” and “let democracy take its course”.
While the election results could change, “I am ready to build a new and strong government,” said Ulf Christerson, 55, a moderate Conservative rival and leader of the right-wing bloc.
Magdalena Andersson is the leader of the Social Democrats and the current Swedish Prime Minister. source: GT / JONAS EXTROMER / TT NEWS AGENCY / AFP via Getty Ima
For the first time, moderates and two smaller right-wing parties linked up with the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats, who appeared poised for their best electoral result yet.
The far-right party, which entered parliament in 2010 with 5.7 percent of the vote and has long been treated by other political parties as a “pariah”, was seen garnering around 20.7 percent of the vote.
This makes them the second largest party in the country for the first time, overtaking the moderates, the traditional leaders on the right.
The campaign was dominated by issues close to right-wing voters and especially the far-right, including escalating gang shootings and immigration and integration issues.
Supporters of the Swedish Democrats cheer during the party’s election night after the polls were announced. source: GT / Jonathan Nakstrand/AFP via Getty Images
While Anderson’s Social Democrats appeared to remain the largest party in the country at 30.5 percent, the moderates slipped to third place with 19 percent.
This is a setback for Kristerson, who orchestrated a major shift in Swedish politics by initiating exploratory talks in 2019 with the Swedish Democrats.
The other two smaller right-wing parties, the Christian Democrats and, to a lesser extent, the Liberals, later followed suit.
“Looking good now”
“Our goal is to sit in government. Our goal is a majority government,” Sweden Democrats leader Jimmy Akesson told a cheering crowd of supporters on Sunday evening.
“She looks very good now,” he said.
Party Secretary Richard Gumshof told public television SVT he “did not believe” other parties would be able to freeze the Swedish Democrats again and expected them to have a strong influence on the country’s politics.
“We are very old now,” he said. “It is clear that we should have a place in parliamentary committees.”
He said the party had “an opportunity to be an active part of a government that would move politics in a completely different direction.”
Christian Democrats leader Ebba Bush speaks during the party’s election night celebrations in Stockholm. source: GT / PONTUS LUNDAHL / TT News Agency / AFP via Getty Ima
Anderson, a former finance minister, campaigned to build a government with support from the small left, center and green parties.
The Social Democrats have ruled Sweden since 2014 and have dominated the political scene since the 1930s.
“We had a good election, we Social Democrats,” she told party members late Sunday, adding that “Swedish social democracy is standing strong.”
The two blocs suffer from internal divisions that may lead to prolonged negotiations to form a coalition government.
Political scientist Katharina Barling noted that the right-wing Liberals had said they were against giving the Swedish Democrats ministerial posts.
They prefer the far right to remain in the background to provide informal support in Parliament.
She added that for a number of reasons there was “pressure for a united and effective government” to form quickly.
Sweden faces a looming economic crisis, in the midst He is due to take over the presidency of the European Union in 2023.
Anders Lindberg, editor of the left-wing Aftonbladet newspaper, said the end of the Swedish Democrats’ political isolation, and the prospect of the party becoming the largest right-wing party, is a “massive shift in Swedish society”.
The party arose out of the neo-Nazi movement at the end of the 1980s, and the rise of the party came along with a large influx of immigrants. The country of about 10 million people took in nearly half a million asylum seekers in a decade.
It also comes as Sweden struggles to combat escalating gang shootings attributed to drug and gun battles.
Crime was a major concern of far-right voters.