Sweden votes in election amid heated debate on immigration

13 September, 2018, 13:45 | Author: Katrina Soto
  • Employment and economy key to growth of Sweden Democrats research

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.

The Sweden Democrats are bidding to become the biggest populist party in the Nordic region, topping the Danish People's Party, which gained 21 per cent in 2015, and trump the 12.6 pe rcent for the far-right Alternative for Germany, which swept into the Bundestag previous year.

"This election is a referendum about our welfare", Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said. "It's. about decency, about a decent democracy".

Anna Berglund, a 28-year-old lawyer who voted for the small Centre Party at a polling station in Stockholm's upscale Ostermalm neighbourhood, said SD's mounting support was "bad news". "I don't like it". "It'll be interesting to see where things go from here".

Up to 20 percent of the 7.5 million eligible voters were undecided in the final days before the vote, according to pollsters.

"The election is between potential democracy and potential facism", he told AFP. "I have tried to prove to voters during the election campaign that if you really want a change, you have to vote. for our four parties".

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Akesson has said he would demand a curbing of immigration policy in exchange for his support, or key positions on parliamentary committees that draft legislation. Well aware that his Alliance has no chance of winning a majority, he has said Sweden needs "a strong cross-bloc cooperation to isolate the forces. pushing for Sweden to withdraw from worldwide cooperation".

SD leader Jimmie Akesson has claimed that Sweden has been "an extreme country in many ways, not least when it comes to immigration" and that his plan to accept fewer refugees would be regarded as "normal politics in the rest of Europe". "We're now competing against the Social Democrats and Moderates to become the biggest party in the country", he said, dismissing the protesters as "communists".

The Sweden Democrats' success follows a surge in popularity for other far-right parties in Europe amid growing anxiety over national identity and the effects of globalization and fears over immigration following armed conflict in the Middle East and North Africa. But with some kind of cooperation between parties in the centre-left and centre-right blocs an equally unlikely alternative to the current political deadlock, analysts believe that Akesson may yet end up with some influence on policy. "The other parties have kept us at arms length, but I think they will be prepared cooperate when they see the outcome".

Speaking to supporters late Sunday Kristersson called on Lofven "to resign", saying he planned to build a government that would "unite our country and take responsibility".

The final results of the Sunday vote will be released before midnight (22:00 GMT), but the composition of the next government may not be known for weeks.

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