Published: Mon, September 10, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Sweden elections: Party with neo-Nazi roots makes gains

Sweden elections: Party with neo-Nazi roots makes gains

Concerns over immigration and the influx of migrants among European Union member nations played a key role in a number of other elections across Europe that saw far-right parties make a dent in mainstream majorities.

The Sweden Democrats emerged as second largest party (19.2%) in Sunday's general elections, an exit poll published by the Swedish public broadcaster SVT minutes after the vote closed showed.

The results after 4,800 of 6,004 districts had been counted, showed the the Prime Minister Stefan Lofven's Social Democrat and Green party coalition, together with the Left Party, winning 40.6 percent of votes, the election authority data showed.

The latest opinion poll suggests that Prime Minister Stefan Lofven's ruling Social Democrats will substantially lose seats but still emerge a victor with an estimated 24.9 percent of the votes.

"We increase our seats in parliament and we see that we will gain huge influence over what happens in Sweden during the coming weeks, months and years", Akesson told a party rally, adding that he was ready for cooperation will all parties, especially the center-right.

He could try to build a similar government to the one he formed in 2014: a minority coalition with the Greens that relies on the informal support in parliament of the ex-communist Left Party.

In Sweden, an influx of 163,000 asylum seekers in 2015 - the most in Europe relative to the country's population of 10 million - has polarised voters and fractured the political consensus.

The record levels of asylum seekers in 2015 magnified worries about a welfare system that many voters already believe is in crisis, even though refugee numbers have fallen sharply since then.

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During a heated debate Friday evening, party leader Jimmie Akesson caused a stir by saying migrants have trouble finding jobs because "they can't adjust to Sweden".

Ahead of the election, promising prospects for the Sweden Democrats had many Swedes anxious about an erosion of the humanitarian values that have always been a foundation of their country's identity.

In southern Sweden, an SD stronghold, party leader Jimmie Akesson campaigned among throngs of supporters as detractors booed him and shouted "No racists on our streets!"

"Do they go back on what they said about refusing any support from the Sweden Democrats, particularly if the Alliance isn't bigger than the left bloc, or do they go back on what they said about trying to remove a Social Democratic prime minister?" "And the Social Democrats and a Social Democratic-led government is a guarantee for not letting the Sweden Democrats extremist party, racist party, get any influence in the government".

"It feels like Sweden could take a step in this election that we won't be able to recover from very easily".

Fewer than 30,000 votes separate the blocs and almost 200,000 ballots from Swedes who voted overseas have yet to be counted. "But despite this, the voters have made the Social Democrats the biggest party", he said to cheers from supporters. It's more that we have had an integration issue for maybe 20 years. "We won't mourn, we will organize ourselves", he said. Whether they were the third biggest party or the biggest party is less important than the fact that they are now sufficiently strong to deprive either of the traditional blocs of a majority. "Everything is about us", Akesson said.

"Lofven had called the election a "referendum on the future of the welfare state", but the far right presented it as a vote on immigrants and their integration".

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