STOCKHOLM, September 9
Swedes voted on Sunday in an election dominated by fears over asylum seekers and welfare, with the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats vying to become the biggest party in a country long seen as a bastion of liberal values.
Far-right parties have made spectacular gains throughout Europe in recent years after a refugee crisis sparked by civil war in Syria and conflicts in Afghanistan and parts of Africa.
In Sweden, the influx of 163,000 asylum seekers in 2015 has polarised voters, fracturing the political consensus and could give the Sweden Democrats, a party with roots in the white supremacist fringe, a veto over who forms the next government.
“Traditional parties have failed to respond to the sense of discontent that exists,” said Magnus Blomgren, a social scientist at Umea University.
The centre-left bloc, uniting the minority governing Social Democrat and Green parties with the Left Party, is backed by about 40% of voters, recent opinion polls indicate, with a slim lead over the centre-right Alliance bloc.
The Sweden Democrats, who want the country to leave the European Union and put a freeze on immigration, have about 17%, up from the 13% they scored in the 2014 vote, opinion polls suggest.
Sweden took in more asylum seekers per capita than any other country in Europe in 2015. — Reuters