With more than three-quarters of the votes in, the far-right Sweden Democrats are set to make sizable gains in the country’s general election on Sunday, showing a surge in support for the party that has roots in the neo-Nazi movement, as anti-immigrant sentiment in the Scandinavian country grows.
The partial results show that voters have retreated from the major parties, leaving the two main blocs to nip-and-tuck in an election set to leave the country facing weeks of political uncertainty, CNN is reporting. As of 11 p.m. local time, with three-quarters of the votes counted, the Sweden Democrats had 17.7 percent of the votes, putting it in a close third place. The result is well up on the 12.9 percent they scored in 2014, but far short of the 25 percent-plus polls had predicted earlier in the summer.
According to the Guardian‘s live report, the governing Social Democrats, led by prime minister Stefan Löfven, still maintain its record of finishing first in every election since 1917, though it is projected that the party will plunge to about 28 percent, dropping about 5 percent in its worst score in more than a century. The main center-right opposition Moderate party also slid badly, to about 18 percent, neck-in-neck with the Sweden Democrats.
The election showed good results for the smaller parties, including the ex-communist Left, which nearly doubled its score to 9.8 percent at one point and settled at about 8 percent. The center-right Centre and Christian Democrat parties both rose in numbers, with 8.6 percent and 6.4 percent respectively.
3/4 of results counted in Sweden:— Richard Milne (@rmilneNordic) September 9, 2018
Sweden Democrats 17.7% (3rd place) pic.twitter.com/mvS73acRmn
The far-right party has been growing in strides in recent years, currently holding the third-largest number of seats in the Swedish parliament. If Sunday night’s official results hold, the party’s rise from the fringes of Swedish politics into the mainstream will be cemented, CNN noted.
The Swedish Democrats has seen a surge in support amid a immigrant crisis that has hit different parts of the world, including Europe. The party’s agenda includes proposing a freeze in migration and a push for the country to leave the European Union, according to CNN.
The results put the center-left and center-right blocs, which have dominated Swedish politics for years, neck-and-neck, well short of a parliamentary majority in the 349-seat Riksdag. This means that putting together a government will likely be a struggle and could take weeks to form, the Guardian noted.
In an unusual scenario, the new government will have see coalitions from cross-bloc parties between center-right and center-left, or it will see one of the bigger parties create an alliance with the Sweden Democrats, which has long been shunned by all the other parties because of its extremist roots.
Sunday’s vote was one of the toughest challenges to Sweden’s social democracy, which is characterized and admired by its high tax rates and comprehensive welfare system aimed at reducing inequality through social inclusion.