Swedish nationalists make gains in tight election

Ruling centre-left grouping and centre-right opponents appear deadlocked in voting

 Young members and supporters of the far-right Sweden Democrats react to the results of the exit polls at their party election centre  in Stockholm. Photograph: Michael Campanella/Getty Images

Young members and supporters of the far-right Sweden Democrats react to the results of the exit polls at their party election centre in Stockholm. Photograph: Michael Campanella/Getty Images

 

Sweden’s ruling centre-left bloc commanded a marginal lead over the centre-right Alliance in Sunday’s national election with the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats making gains, preliminary election authority results showed on Sunday.

The results after 4,800 of 6,004 districts had been counted, showed the governing Social Democrat and Green party coalition, together with the Left Party, winning 40.6 per cent of votes, the election authority data showed.

The Alliance opposition bloc, composed of the Moderates, the Christian Democrats, the Centre party and the Liberals, looked set to win 40.1 per cent.

The nationalist Sweden Democrats were on track to get 17.8 per cent.

The results are partial and may differ slightly from the final outcome.

The process of forming a stable government out of the deadlocked parliament could take weeks and, potentially, end in failure.

Acrimony between the two main political blocs has defined Swedish politics for decades, and the rise of the Sweden Democrats – long a pariah grouping in parliament – has hugely complicated the political landscape.

The Sweden Democrats’ success follows a surge in popularity for other far-right parties in Europe amid growing anxiety over national identity and the effects of globalisation and fears over immigration following armed conflict in the Middle East and North Africa.

The election will add to concerns in Brussels as the European Union enters campaign mode ahead of the European Parliament election in May, which could give more voice to Eurosceptic groups and thwart efforts at closer EU integration.– Reuters