Main Swedish political blocs neck and neck, ultraright surges as 3rd force

By EFE Ingles

(Update 1: Rewrites completely, adding info with updated vote count)

Stockholm, Sep 9 (EFE).- The governing leftist bloc and the opposition center-right Alliance emerged on election day in Sweden in a virtual tie, meaning that the country’s third-largest political force – the ultraright Democrats of Sweden (SD) – has emerged as a decisive player.

The left obtained 40.6 percent of the votes versus 40.3 percent for the Alliance, each of them securing 143 seats in parliament, versus 63 for the ultraright, according to projections by Swedish election authorities with 95 percent of the votes counted.

The Social Democratic Party of Prime Minister Stefan Löfven garnered 28.3 percent of the votes, followed by the conservative Moderate Party with 19.8 percent and the SD with 17.6 percent.

Coming in fourth was the Center Party with 8.6 percent, followed by the Party of the Left with 7.9 percent, the Christian Democrats with 6.4 percent, the Liberal Party with 5.5 percent and the Environmental Party with 4.4 percent.

The governing bloc, however, lost three percentage points overall, in terms of voter support, compared with the 2014 election, while the Alliance gained 0.9 percent.

If this provisional result is maintained as all ballots are finally tallied, the Social Democrats will emerge with the worst election result in their history, while the conservatives will have obtained their lowest election percentage since 2002.

The SD, however, which in 2014 obtained just under 13 percent of the votes, will move up markedly in its fifth consecutive elections, although the result would be far below the figures it obtained in voter surveys since last summer when it had exceeded the conservatives and appeared to be the country’s second-largest political grouping.

As the vote count proceeded to its conclusion, SD leader Jimmie Akesson invited the head of the center-right opposition, Ulf Kristersson, to begin talks on forming a government.

During the campaign, Kristersson emphasized that he was intending to govern with a minority, if he were to win a plurality – meaning that he would not negotiate with the SD to form a majority government. Sweden’s political parties had isolated the SD in the previous legislature as a xenophobic political force.

If the Alliance were to receive more votes than the left, albeit only a plurality, it could be tasked with forming a government if the SD were to simply abstain from a hypothetical vote in parliament. However, if the leftist bloc receives a plurality, the Alliance and the SD would have to join forces for the center-right to take power.

Akesson in recent weeks has reiterated that the SD’s support for the Alliance will not be automatic or free and that he will demand concessions in various areas, including in immigration and the fight against crime.

This article provided by NewsEdge.