The far right advances in a hotly contested vote

Once a fringe party shunned by others across the political spectrum, preliminary results showed Sweden’s Democrats winning nearly 21% of the vote.

Maja Suslin | AFP | Getty Images

According to initial results, a group of right-wing political parties have secured a slim lead in the Swedish general election and appear to be on track to defeat a left-wing bloc led by Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson.

Exit polls on Sunday initially predicted a narrow victory for Andersson’s centre-left ruling Social Democrats and their allies, although the tally has since swung to the political right as partial results have been released throughout the evening.

After about 95% of the vote was counted on Monday morning, a four-party right-wing bloc, led by center-right moderates Ulf Kristersson, had a total of 175 seats, with the Swedish Democrats’ anti-immigration party set to record its best election result nowadays .

The four parties backing Andersson as prime minister, meanwhile, looked set to win 174 seats.

If these results are confirmed, it means that the group of right-wing parties has obtained a parliamentary majority which could pave the way for the bloc to try to form a government.

A conclusive result is not expected until Wednesday at the earliest, with postal ballots and the votes of citizens living abroad still to be counted.

There are a total of eight parties (four on the right, four on the left) vying for seats in Sweden’s 349-seat parliament, or Riksdag.

Andersson became Sweden’s first-ever female prime minister last year.

Jonathan Nackstrand | AFP | Getty Images

Preliminary results on Sunday suggest the Social Democrats won 30.5% of the vote, reaffirming their position as the largest party. However, Andersson may struggle to stay in power due to substantial gains by Sweden’s far-right Democrats.

Sweden, a Scandinavian country of around 10.5 million people, has a reputation as one of the most progressive states in Europe and consistently ranks among the happiest nations in the world.

The rise of the right

Supporters of the Swedish Democrats cheer during the party’s election night in Nacka, near Stockholm, on September 11, 2022, after exit polls were released.

Jonathan Nackstrand | AFP | Getty Images

Sweden’s Democrats emerged from the country’s neo-Nazi movement in the late 1980s and early 1990s and have struggled to distance themselves from accusations of extremism ever since. The party was represented in the Riksdag for the first time in 2010 with 5.7% of the vote.

A gradual increase in national support later prompted the center-right moderate party to adopt co-operation with the Swedish Democrats in 2018. Kristersson’s moderates had previously ruled out negotiating with the right-wing party.

“A Tragedy in Many Acts”

Preliminary results on Sunday saw the moderate party take 19.1% of the vote, with leader Kristersson likely the right-wing bloc’s preferred candidate for prime minister.

“We don’t know what the outcome will be,” Kristersson told supporters, Reuters reported. “But I am ready to do everything possible to form a stable and strong new government for the whole of Sweden and all its citizens.”

Sony Kapoor, professor of climate and macroeconomics at the European University Institute, said via Twitter that the preliminary results suggested Sweden’s Democrats would become the country’s largest political party and could potentially choose the next prime minister.

“It’s a tragedy in many acts,” Kapoor said.

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