Swedish election: Nationalists ‘make gains’ in early exit polls ZlotoNews

Ulf Kristersson the leader of the Moderates shakes hands with a voter

"It's also about decency, about a decent democracy... and not letting the Sweden Democrats, an extremist party, a racist party, get any influence in the government". It could take weeks or months of coalition talks before the next government is formed. The Sweden Democrats are bidding to become the biggest populist party in the Nordic region, topping the Danish People's Party, which gained 21 per cent in 2015, and trump the 12.6 pe rcent for the far-right Alternative for Germany, which swept into the Bundestag previous year.

Sunday's vote is first since the nation of 10 million accepted 163,000 migrants in 2015.

The potentially promising prospects of the far-right Sweden Democrats had many other Swedes anxious about an erosion of the humanitarian values that have always been a foundation of the Scandinavian country's identity.

"Sweden needs some breathing room", Lofven told a news conference, his Green Party deputy prime minister Asa Romson at his side, tears streaming down her cheeks.

Its strong rhetoric has shocked many Swedes. Some also express anxiety that Sweden is losing its cultural heritage.

"I'm afraid we're becoming a society that is more hostile to foreigners". That longstanding taboo, however, is now disappearing. "The democratic revolution in Europe is moving forward!"

"This party has increased and made the biggest gains".

Sweden also gained worldwide scrutiny after U.S. President Donald Trump portrayed the country as place where multiculturalism has brought crime and insecurity.

If elected to a second term, Lofven is likely to have to contend with a downturn in the domestic and global economy, as forecast by experts after Sweden's long period of growth. Health care, education and climate change are among issues at stake - but even those are sometimes viewed through the filter of migration.

The leader of a far-right party that campaigned with an anti-migrant message says the party has "won" Sweden's national election.

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His Social Democrats, which have dominated Swedish politics since the 1930s, are leading in the polls, but they look set to post a record low score, just ahead of the far-right Sweden Democrats and conservative Moderates, who are battling for second place. That would be their worst result ever. Over the past four years the Moderates were the largest of four members of the opposition bloc, the Alliance.

Akesson was jubilant as he addressed supporters a day later, declaring the estimated 14 parliament seats the Social Democrats picked up a victory other parties could not ignore in coalition negotiations. The party symbol was switched from a flame thrower to a flower.

Akesson, a former leader of the party's youth branch, was elected to parliament in 2010. The Sweden Democrats, who want the country to leave the European Union and put a freeze on immigration, have about 17 per cent, up from the 13 per cent they scored in the 2014 vote, opinion polls suggest.

A 20% share of Sunday's vote would not be enough for the party to lead a government but a strong show of support would give more power to pressure the next administration.

That could prove fatal for the Alliance, with the Liberal and Centre parties repeatedly ruling out a deal with the far-right.

Swedes will elect lawmakers to four-year terms in the 349-seat parliament as well as to local offices in cities and municipalities on Sunday.

Anna Berglund, a 28-year-old lawyer who voted for the small Centre Party at a polling station in Stockholm's upmarket Ostermalm neighbourhood, agreed.

About 7.5 million registered voters choose from nearly 6,300 candidates for a four-year term in the 349-seat Riksdag, or parliament. Moderate party secretary Gunnar Strommer said after the exit polls were published that he thinks "it's pretty clear" Lofven will have to resign.

It was unlikely any single party would secure a majority of 175 seats.

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