Thursday

17th Jan 2019

Overseas votes could swing Sweden election result

  • Prime minister Stefan Lofven voting on Sunday. Most likely it will not be clear before the Riksdag meets in two weeks time if he has to go. (Photo: Socialdemokraterne)

Social Democrat prime minister Stefan Lofven pledged on Sunday evening to remain prime minister of Sweden, with the general elections giving his centre-left bloc 144 seats in the Swedish parliament, the Riksdag - one more mandate than the centre-right opposition alliance's 143 seats.

The result is however so tight, with just some 30,000 votes separating the two blocs, that it may take until Wednesday (12 September) when the last votes cast by Swedes abroad have been counted and the result finally checked before the final result is known.

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The Social Democrats remained the biggest party with 28.4 percent of the votes, according to figures released on Monday morning. It gives the party 101 seats in the parliament, a record low result. The party had 113 seats after the 2014 elections.

The bad outcome for Lofven's party prompted the leader of the centre-right alliance, conservative Ulf Kristersson, to call for Lofven's resignation.

Kristersson's own Moderate party will have 70 seats in the new parliament, based on 19.8 percent of the votes.

He is backed as candidate for the premiership by the Centre party (8.6 percent), the Liberals (5.5 percent) and the Christian Democrats (6.4 percent). All together Kristersson's centre-right coalition will have 143 seats.

Strong gains for Sweden Democrats

The anti-migrant and EU-critical Sweden Democrats came third, with 17.6 percent of the vote - a strong gain of 4.6 percent, but not as much as predicted in many polls ahead of the elections.

"I know who won this election," said party leader Jimmie Akesson to a great jubilation from supporters.

The party will be the third largest party in the new parliament with 62 seats.

"We are going to get a lot of influence on what will happen in Sweden in the next few years," Akesson added.

Leaders of the four centre-right Alliance parties will meet on Monday with the goal of forming a new government, but without support from the Sweden Democrats they do not have a majority.

All parties in the centre-right alliance have pledged ahead of the election to not base a new government on support from the Sweden Democrats.

"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," Kristersson said.

The Sweden Democrats for their part have pledged to sink any government that refuses to give them a say in policy, particularly on immigration.

Prime minister Lofven is backed by the Greens and the Left party in his quest to stay in power.

The Greens came close to Sweden's four percent threshold for representation in the parliament, with just 4.3 percent of the votes, while the Left party had a very good result, scoring 7.9 percent.

Lofven said he would not resign and called for an end to governance by political blocs.

"There is no side with a majority. Then it is only natural to work across the political divide to make it possible to govern Sweden," he said.

Lofven would need support from at least one of the centre-right alliance parties in order to get a majority in the 349 member parliament.

The current situation makes it totally unclear who will end up as prime minister in Sweden.

Most likely it will not be clear before the Riksdag meets in two weeks time if Lofven has to go.

Swedes warned of EU collapse ahead of vote

The EU would "collapse" if parties like the far-right Sweden Democrats took power across Europe, Sweden's former leader, Carl Bildt, said in a TV duel six days ahead of elections.

Opinion

'Nativism' and the upcoming Swedish and Bavarian elections

Swedes head to the polls in September in a national parliamentary election, while Bavarians vote in October in a state election. In both elections, voters' nativist sentiments may well help determine the outcome.

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