Sweden votes, with the far right in an unprecedented position of strength

Sweden votes, with the far right in an unprecedented position of strength

Outgoing Prime Minister, Social Democrat Magdalena Andersson, hopes to keep her seat by relying on the left and the greens.

A new European country with a government backed by the far right, or a third term for the left? Sweden began voting on Sunday after a campaign with maximum suspense and an unprecedented scenario, dominated by crime and inflation.

Never until these legislative elections Sweden's traditional right had never considered governing with the direct or indirect support of the Democrats of Sweden (SD).

Long pariah, the nationalist and anti-immigration party is on the way according to the polls to grab a second place never reached and to become the first formation of a new right-wing bloc.

Outgoing Prime Minister, Social Democrat Magdalena Andersson, hopes to stay in power by relying on a red-green ensemble, for a third term of four years in a row for the left.

The campaign was dominated by themes likely to favor the right-wing opposition: murderous gang crime and settling of accounts, soaring fuel and electricity prices, immigrant integration problems…

But the solid popularity of Ms Andersson, whose trust rating exceeds that of her Tory rival Ulf Kristersson, as well as the bogeyman of the far right, argue in favor of the left.

Polling stations were stormed by voters.

The five polling institutes give the red-green side a very slight lead in their final salvoes, but all are within the margin of error and the numbers have been ultra tight for weeks.

The Social Democrat-led left bloc – Sweden's biggest party since the 1930s – with expected support from the Greens, Left Party and Center Party, is credited with 49.6 % and 51.6%.

The total of the rights – SD, party of moderates (conservative), Christian Democratic party and liberal party – sails between 47.6% and 49 .4%.

Online betting sites give Magdalena Andersson a slightly better chance of victory (1.6 to one) than Ulf Kristersson ( 2.2 to one).

It's very, very tight, noted the Prime Minister leaving the polling station late Sunday morning.

The day before, on her last day of campaigning, she said she was worried about a government completely dependent on the Democrats of Sweden […] It would be a different Sweden that we would have for four years.

The last two weeks of campaigning have seen the SD, led for the fifth election by their leader Jimmie Åkesson, overtake the moderates in the polls, around 19-21%, a new record.

Jimmie Åkesson, leader of the Swedish Democrats (SD)

My country changed completely when it was maybe -to be the safest in the world, says Ulrika, a 56-year-old SD voter. She blames it on other cultures arriving in the country.

For Erwin Marklund, a 34-year-old left-wing voter working in IT, it is conversely important not to let the extreme right into the system.

Leaded for the second time by Ulf Kristersson, the moderates have lost ground around 16-18% in the latest opinion polls, raising concerns within the party.

The post of Prime Minister traditionally goes in Sweden to the first party of the victorious alliance.

But the traditional right-wing parties are hostile to its returning to the SD , just like entering government.

On the left too, the exact form of an executive coming out of the polls remains marked by uncertainty, with disagreements between parties Left and Center.

But political scientists say a political crisis similar to the one that followed the 2018 election – four months to form a government – ​​is unlikely as the sides are better delineated.

Nearly 7.8 million voters are being called to the polls, in a country of 10.3 million souls.

A right-wing victory backed by the far right would open a new political era for Sweden, which is due to take over the rotating presidency of the European Union on January 1 and finalize its historic NATO bid – also supported by the right.

A new victory for the left would invalidate the strategy of rapprochement of the moderates, Sweden's second party for more than 40 years.

A total of 349 seats are allocated proportionally to parties achieving at least 4%. To be invested, a prime minister must not have 175 or more votes against him, but not necessarily an absolute majority in his favour.

Nearly 7.8 million; voters are called to the polls, in a country of 10.3 million souls, with traditionally very high turnout (87% in 2018).

Polling stations are closing at 8 p.m. local time, when two exit polls are expected. More reliable partial results should be available approximately two hours later.

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