Proper-wing extremists win in hard-fought polls

Once a fringe party shunned by others across the political spectrum, preliminary results showed the Sweden Democrats garnered nearly 21% of the vote.

Maya Suslin | AFP | Getty Images

A group of right-wing political parties secured a razor-thin lead in Sweden’s general election, according to early results, and appear on course to defeat a left-wing bloc led by Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson.

With more than 95% of the vote counted Tuesday morning, a right-wing four-party bloc led by Ulf Kristersson’s centre-right moderates had a total of 175 seats, with the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats party setting its best-ever election result.

The four parties supporting Andersson as prime minister, meanwhile, appeared poised to win 174 seats.

Exit polls on Sunday initially forecast a narrow victory for Andersson’s ruling centre-left Social Democrats and their allies, although the balance sheet has since swung to the right.

If these results are confirmed, the right-wing party group would have a parliamentary majority that could pave the way for the bloc to form a government.

A final result is expected on Wednesday at the earliest, postal ballot papers and votes from citizens living abroad still have to be counted.

There are a total of eight parties (four right, four left) fighting for seats in Sweden’s 349-seat parliament.

Andersson became Sweden’s first female prime minister last year.

Jonathan Nackstrand | AFP | Getty Images

Sunday’s preliminary results suggest that the Social Democrats won 30.5% of the vote, confirming their position as the strongest party. But Andersson could struggle to stay in power as the far-right Sweden Democrats make significant gains.

Sweden, a Scandinavian country of around 10.5 million people, has a reputation for being one of the most progressive countries in Europe and is consistently ranked among the happiest nations in the world.

The rise of the right

Supporters of the Sweden Democrats cheer during the party’s election night in Nacka near Stockholm September 11, 2022 after exit polls were released.

Jonathan Nackstrand | AFP | Getty Images

The Sweden Democrats emerged from the country’s neo-Nazi movement in the late 1980s and early 1990s and have since struggled to distance themselves from accusations of extremism. In 2010, the party was represented for the first time in the Reichstag with 5.7% of the votes.

A gradual increase in national support thereafter prompted the centre-right Moderate Party to forge a partnership with the Sweden Democrats in 2018. Kristersson’s moderates had previously ruled out negotiations with the right-wing party.

“A Tragedy in Many Acts”

Preliminary results on Sunday showed the Moderate party grabbed 19.1% of the vote, with leader Kristersson likely to be the right-wing bloc’s preferred candidate for prime minister.

“We don’t know what the outcome will be,” Kristersson told fans, Reuters reported. “But I am ready to do everything in my power to form a new, stable and powerful government for all of Sweden and all of its citizens.”

Sony Kapoor, professor of climate and macroeconomics at the European University Institute, said via Twitter that the preliminary results indicated the Sweden Democrats would become the country’s largest party on the political right and potentially be able to choose the next prime minister .

“This is a tragedy in many ways,” Kapoor said.

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