Populists surge in socialist Sweden’s election, parliament deadlocked

by WorldTribune Staff, September 10, 2018

Sweden headed for a deadlocked parliament on Sept. 9 after an election which saw the populist Sweden Democrats party surge to their largest ever share of the vote.

The Sweden Democrats, who campaigned heavily against an influx of asylum seekers which saw Sweden take in the most migrants in Europe in relation to population, won 17.6 percent of the vote and 63 seats in parliament. The result was the largest gain by any party in the Riksdag, Sweden’s parliament, in this election cycle.

Jimmie Akesson, leader of the Sweden Democrats, reacts during the party’s election night event in Stockholm. / Bloomberg

“We have strengthened our role as kingmakers. We are going to gain real influence over Swedish politics,” said Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Akesson, who has said he wishes to cooperate with other parties, particularly the Moderates, but will demand curbs on immigration in exchange for his party’s backing.

The ruling Social Democrat Party had its worst showing since 1908, while its Green Party coalition partners barely exceeded the 4 percent threshold required for any parliamentary representation at all.

Prime Minister Stefan Lofven’s three-party center-left bloc looked set to win 144 of the 349 seats in the Riksdag, just one seat more than the center-right. That could change with 200,000 overseas votes still to be counted.

Lofven, who refused opposition calls to resign, said he would take two weeks before the next parliamentary vote to try to build a cross-bloc coalition that would avoid the growing influence of the Sweden Democrats.

The center-right alliance of the Moderate, Christian Democrat, Liberal and Center parties called on Lofven to step down. “This government has had its chance. It has to resign,” said Moderate party leader Ulf Kristersson.

Kristersson also rebuffed the populist Sweden Democrats’ overtures, telling supporters: “We have been completely clear during the whole election. The alliance will not govern or discuss how to form a government with the Sweden Democrats.”

Sweden Democrats’ parliamentary leader Mattias Karlsson said that “When the same party time and again increases, and the other parties stand still, then you have to listen to that part of the population that is voting for this party. It’s time to talk.”

The Dagens Nyheter daily newspaper noted in an editorial that “However the dramatic bloc battle plays out, it looks like it will be difficult for Sweden to have a functioning government.”

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