Sweden faces political impasse after ruling left-wing coalition and the opposition center-right alliance failed to win a clear majority in Sunday’s election. The biggest winner of the night was the nationalist party, the Swedish Democrats, who won 18 percent of the vote, compared to 12 percent in the 2014 elections.

“We see that we are this election’s winner, but now we enter a new mandate period and now we are going to get influence over Swedish politics for real,” Jimmie Akesson, the leader of the Sweden Democrats, told supporters Sunday night. “We strengthen our kingmaker role. We will will have an immense influence over what happens in Sweden in the coming weeks, months, years,” he added.

The ruling Social Democrats, Greens, and Left Party coalition won 40.6 percent of the vote and the opposition center-right alliance secured 40.3 percent, giving them 144 and 142 seats in the 349-seat parliament respectively. The Sweden Democrats are poised to take 63 seats.

With 28 percent of the vote, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven’s Social Democrats suffered their worst defeat in more than a century. Despite the dismal performance, Löfven, staked claim to form the next government, urging to “build a cross-bloc coalition” to “avoid the growing influence of” anti-establishment Sweden Democrats, media reports suggest.

Swedish public broadcaster Sveriges Radio covered Sunday night’s results:

It is a dead heat between the centre-left bloc made up of the Social Democrats, the Green Party, and the Left Party with 40.6 percent and the Alliance bloc (Moderates, Center Party, Christian Democrats, and Liberals) with 40.3 percent. With almost all the votes counted, the center-left bloc would have one more member of Parliament than the centre-right.

The nationalist Sweden Democrats gained almost 5 percent more support than the last election, but were unable to beat out the conservative Moderates for the second most votes as polls ahead of the election had predicted. Jimmie Åkesson, party leader of the Sweden Democrats, was pleased with the result nevertheless.

“I am very satisfied. I have to keep myself humble. I know there are Swedish Democrats who had hoped for more,” he told news agency TT. “But now, we are a large party and we are ready to take on responsibility and prevent political chaos.”

The ground gained by the right-wing ‘populist’ Sweden Democrats is part of the wider trend across Europe. According to latest German polls, the anti-establishment Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) is now the biggest party in eastern Germany, beating Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats for the first time. Nationwide, the AfD is now the country’s second-largest force in the opinion polls.

There are early indications that mainstream parties could come together to form a broad coalition, with the sole purpose of keeping Sweden Democrats from dictating their anti-EU and anti-mass immigration policies to the next government. The opposition center-right bloc has already rejected “any idea of an alliance” with the right-wing party ,” German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported. After lengthy negotiations, the country expects to see a left-right grand coalition, similar to the one led by Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany.

Video: Uncertainty in EU after Swedish election [EuroNews]

[Cover image via YouTube]


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