Tuesday

9th Mar 2021

Sweden's far-right makes it into parliament for the first time

Sweden's conservative Prime Minister Frederik Reinfeldt has won a second term in office, preliminary figures show. But his four-party centre-right alliance failed to secure a majority, while the far-right Sweden Democrats entered into parliament for the first time.

The four-party coalition, made up of Mr Reinfeldt's Moderate Party, the Liberal Party, the Christian Democrats and the Center Party, won 172 seats, three short of a majority in Sunday's election (19 September). The left-wing opposition got 157 seats.

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  • Mr Akesson (l) on the campaign trail. The election result may see a minority government formed (Photo: Johnny Soderberg)

Declaring victory early on Monday morning, Mr Reinfeldt said: "We have received broad support tonight."

But although his own Moderate Party received its strongest mandate ever, with 30 percent of the vote, the result has been undermined by the failure of his coalition to secure an outright victory, resulting in a hung parliament.

The headline-stealers of the election are instead the Sweden Democrats, an anti-immigrant, far-right outfit with links to neo-Nazi groups, especially in the 1980s and 1990s. The party passed the four percent hurdle for getting into parliament by winning 20 (or 5.7%) of the 349 seats.

"I am overwhelmed and find it hard to collect my thoughts. Today we have written together political history. It is so amazing," said Sweden Democrats leader Jimmie Akesson.

The far-right's ascent is likely to mean that Mr Reinfeldt will have to form a minority government. He has already pledged neither to "co-operate" or make his government "dependent" on the Sweden Democrats, according to Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter.

Meanwhile, the Greens have indicated they will not step into the breach. "Would I sit as minister of the environment and administer the construction of 10 new nuclear power stations? No thanks," said Maria Wetterstrand, Greens leader.

The results are a bitter blow for the Social Democrats, rulers of the country for 65 of the past 78 years, and is their worst result for almost 100 years. The 45-year-old Mr Reinfeldt first came to power in 2006, on a promise of cutting taxes and reforming the welfare state. His winning of a second term is seen as a watershed moment in Swedish politics by some analysts because it cements the centre-left's decline.

The inconclusive results have left the markets somewhat jittery, with the Swedish crown falling back against the euro early on Monday.

"A minority government is a risk, and that is quite simply the price that we will pay," Annika Winsth, chief economist at top Nordic bank Nordea, told the Reuters news agency.

The Sweden Democrats' entry into parliament reflects a general rise in the far-right across the EU in recent years.

Far-right parties are in government in Italy and have seats in the parliament in Denmark, Hungary, Austria and Bulgaria. The anti-immigrant Freedom Party came third in the June elections in the Netherlands and a minority government may be formed with its support.

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