Sweden faces political deadlock after far-right gains

People stand in voting booths during a general election in Stockholm Sweden

The Sweden Democrats, a party founded by white supremacists, rose to 17.8 per cent from 12.9 per cent in the last election four years ago, in effect securing the balance of power.

The ruling centre-left Social Democrats were in the lead with 26.2 per cent of the votes, down from 31 per cent in the 2014 election and its lowest score in a century.

Christian Christensen, an analyst from Stockholm University, has noted that exit polls for the previous election underestimated the Sweden Democrats' share of the vote, and that pollsters' claims to have adjusted their calculations this time around should be "taken with a grain of salt". It's highly unlikely that any single party will get a majority, or 175 seats.

With deadlock looming, it could take weeks to form a government.

That raised questions whether the parties might find a way for the far-right party to vote with the Moderates at least part of the time and helping to install a center-right leader in the prime minister's office.

Sunday's election was the first in Sweden since its government in 2015 allowed 163,000 migrants into the Scandinavian country with a population of 10 million.

An immigration backlash is expected to shape the vote even though the number of migrants arriving in Sweden has been restricted sharply since the height of Europe's mass influx.

The potential for an immigration backlash to result in a big boost for the far-right Sweden Democrats inspired fear among many Swedes before the election.

Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, leader of the Social Democratic Party, prepares to vote in Stockholm.

A ballot envelope is put in ballot box at a polling station in Tomelilla Sweden

"Now we will gain influence in Swedish politics for real", Sweden Democrat Jimmie Akesson told a cheering crowd of supporters as the results came in.

At the party's rally on Saturday, he strongly criticized Lofven's government for "prioritizing" the cause of immigrants over the needs of citizens.

Neither the governing Social Democrats nor the centre-right bloc of parties are predicted to win a majority.

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

New Democracy, founded by an aristocrat and a record producer, won almost 7 percent of the vote in 1991, on the promise of strict immigration policies, cheaper alcohol and free parking, only to crash out of parliament three years later.

Meanwhile, refugee aid associations said they have noted "anxiety" among asylum seekers over the far-right's surge.

With neither Lofven's "red-green" bloc nor his own Alliance standing a chance of winning a majority, Kristersson has said Sweden needs "a strong cross-bloc cooperation to isolate the forces. pushing for Sweden to withdraw from global cooperation". Far-right candidates and parties have seen their stock rise in Italy, Poland, Germany and elsewhere in the past year. "That's why the Sweden Democrats are as big as they seem to be", he told CNN in Stockholm.

"I'm afraid we're becoming a society that is more hostile to foreigners". "No one can take that away from us", he said, according to The Guardian.

Lofven had called the election a "referendum on the future of the welfare state", but the far right presented it as a vote on immigrants and their integration.

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