Sweden vote produces a muddle
Sweden faces a period of political uncertainty after an election that left the two main parliamentary blocs tied but well short of a majority, and the farright Sweden Democrats promising to wield “real influence” in parliament despite making more modest gains than many had predicted.
The populist, anti-immigrant party won 17.6% of the vote, according to preliminary official results – well up on the 12.9% it scored in 2014, but far below the 25%-plus some polls had predicted earlier in the summer. It looked highly likely, however, to have a significant role in policymaking.
The governing Social Democrats, led by prime minister Stefan Löfven, maintained their record of finishing first in every election since 1917, but saw their share fall to 28.4%, the lowest for a century, while the main centre-right opposition Moderate party also slipped to 19.8%.
On a favourable night for the smaller parties, the ex-communist Left and the centre-right Centre and Christian Democrat parties all advanced. Crucially for the centre-left’s chances of forming a government, the Green party scraped over the threshold for representation with 4.4%.
But the new government, which could now take weeks to form, will need either cross-bloc alliances between centre-right and centre-left parties, or an accommodation with the Sweden Democrats – long shunned by all other parties because of their extremist roots – to pass legislation.
With the centre-left bloc on 40.6% of the vote and the centre-right on 40.2%, analysts predict complicated negotiations will now be needed to build a majority, or – more likely – a minority that will not easily be sunk.
Many observers therefore see the Moderate party leader, Ulf Kristersson – who last Sunday night called for Löfven to resign – seeking to form a minority centre-right administration, possibly in coalition with the Christian Democrats and with implicit, ad hoc parliamentary support from the Sweden Democrats.
This would give the populist party the opportunity to influence policy, particularly on immigration.
Addressing supporters last Sunday night, the Sweden Democrats’ leader, Jimmie Åkesson, said the 63 seats it would have in the 349-seat Riksdag represented victory. “No one can take that away from us.”