Far-right tipped to win big as Sweden votes

10 September 2018 | International

The polls opened for Swedish legislative elections yesterday with the far-right expected to notch up a record score as voters unhappy about immigration punish one of the few remaining left-wing governments in Europe.

Opinion polls suggest the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats (SD) could garner between 16 and 25% of the vote, making it one of the biggest parties and almost impossible to predict the make-up of the next government.

The party with roots in the neo-Nazi movement has called the arrival of almost 400,000 asylum seekers since 2012 a threat to Swedish culture and claims they are straining Sweden's generous welfare state.

The traditionally two largest parties, the Social Democrats and the conservative Moderates, are expected to win around 40% of the votes combined, down 10 percentage points from the last elections in 2014.

Candidates from the eight parties campaigned down to the wire on Saturday, targeting in particular the 20% of the 7.5 million eligible voters still undecided, according to pollsters.

“I'm still hesitating between the Moderates and SD. SD is quite close to the Moderates but they're a little clearer in what they want. They're more direct,” Elias, an 18-year-old voting in his first election, told AFP.

Social Democrat Prime Minister Stefan Lofven has repeatedly called the elections a “referendum on the future of the welfare state”.

But the far-right SD has presented it as a straight vote on immigration and integration, after Sweden took in more than 160,000 asylum seekers in 2015 alone, the most in Europe on a per capita basis.

On the eve of the election, Lofven condemned “the hateful forces” in Sweden. He urged voters to “think about how they wanted to use their time on Earth”, calling on them to “stand on the right side of history”.

Moderates leader Ulf Kristersson said that after the election, Sweden would need “a strong cross-bloc cooperation to isolate the forces... pushing for Sweden to withdraw from international cooperation”.

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!” “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”.

Polling stations opened across the country at 08:00 am (06:00 GMT) and close at 20:00 pm, with first estimates expected soon afterwards.

Final results are due before midnight (2200 GMT) but the composition of the next government may not be known for weeks.



Results

Neither Lofven's “red-green” bloc nor the opposition centre-right four-party Alliance (Moderates, Centre, Liberals and Christian Democrats) were expected to win a majority in parliament.

Lengthy negotiations will be needed to build a majority, or at least a minority that cannot be toppled by the opposite side.

Lofven, whose minority government made up of the Social Democrats and the Greens with the informal support of the ex-communist Left Party, has managed to hang onto power by sealing deals with the right-wing on energy and migration, among other things.

But the opposition is intent on ousting Lofven, with some Moderates willing to go so far as to put an end to SD's pariah status and open negotiations with them.

That could prove fatal for the Alliance, with the Liberal and Centre parties repeatedly ruling out a deal with “the devil”, as Akesson occasionally calls himself.

In an interview with AFP during the campaign, Akesson stressed he would “lay down his terms” after the election, citing immigration policy, crime-fighting and health care as priorities.

He sparked an outcry during a televised debate on Friday when he said foreigners had more difficulty finding jobs “because they're not Swedes”. “They don't fit in in Sweden and of course then it's hard to find a job.”

That prompted Centre Party leader Annie Loof to bang her fist on her podium, retorting angrily: “How can you talk that way?!”

Akesson's remarks, and the raw tone unusual in Swedish debates, triggered a wave of criticism.

Meanwhile, refugee aid associations said they have noted “anxiety” among asylum seekers over the far-right's surge.

“I've lived here for almost three years, I've learned the language. What will happen to me if they enter government or gain influence,” asked Mohammad, an 18-year-old Afghan refugee who spoke perfect Swedish when interviewed by AFP.

NAMPA/AFP

Similar News

 

SADC urged to speak with one voice

13 hours ago | International

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has been urged to speak with one voice on the current crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).This...

Ngurare takes on SADC

1 day - 15 January 2019 | International

Former Swapo Party Youth League secretary Elijah Ngurare has described SADC's about-turn on the Democratic Republic of Congo's election result as confusing, while claiming the...

No emergency declaration to end US govt shutdown

2 days ago - 14 January 2019 | International

President Donald Trump said he was holding off on declaring a state of emergency to end the partial US government shutdown that dragged into a...

Elation, suspicion over DR Congo result

5 days ago - 11 January 2019 | International

Namibia's official opposition leader McHenry Venaani has hailed the victory of his “good friend” Felix Tshisekedi in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) presidential race.Tshisekedi...

Death toll from Philippine storm, landslides climbs

1 week ago - 07 January 2019 | International

The death toll from a storm that devastated the Philippines shortly after Christmas rose to 126, authorities said Sunday, adding landslides caused by torrential rain...

Too early to consider exchange of US spy suspect

1 week ago - 07 January 2019 | International

Russia's deputy foreign minister brushed back suggestions Saturday that an American being held in Moscow on suspicion of spying could be exchanged for a Russian...

DRC's Beni residents vote anyway

2 weeks ago - 30 December 2018 | International

They were barred from voting in Congo's presidential election. They voted anyway. On Sunday, thousands of men and women gathered in Beni to cast paper...

All eyes on the DRC

2 weeks ago - 30 December 2018 | International

Voters in the Democratic Republic of Congo went to the polls this morning at 05:00 in elections that will shape the future of their vast,...

Russia waiting on new 'event' from Ukraine

2 weeks ago - 28 December 2018 | International

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced the end of martial law in the country's border regions imposed last month after Russia seized Ukrainian ships in the...

DRC further delays Sunday's poll

2 weeks ago - 28 December 2018 | International

DR Congo on Wednesday announced that key elections due to take place nationwide on December 30 would be postponed to March in two regions troubled...

Latest News

Higher food, fuel prices expected

13 hours ago | Economics

Consumers should brace themselves for even more expensive food and fuel this year. Although motorists received a slight reprieve in fuel prices in December,...

'Technical glitches' force plane to...

13 hours ago | Transport

An Air Namibia Embraer ERJ 135 en route to Ondangwa from Windhoek had to turn around on Sunday evening and land at Eros Airport, from...

When legends die paupers

13 hours ago | Columns

The death on Sunday of Bafana Bafana legend Phil Masinga and the outpouring of grief around his passing, especially in Namibia, has once again brought...

SA regulator weighs Eskom price...

13 hours ago | Economics

NAMPA/ANAAs the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) on Monday began public hearings on Eskom's tariff increase application, pressure group SAFCEI suggested that the...

Cross-border buses to Zim suspend...

13 hours ago | Economics

Nampa/ANAThe International Cross-Border Traders Association (ICTA) on Monday said it had withdrawn all buses travelling to different parts of Zimbabwe from neighbouring countries as protests...

Nambundunga inspired us - Shalli

13 hours ago | People

Former Namibian Defence Force (NDF) chief Martin Shalli says his successor, the late Peter Nambundunga, played a significant role during the liberation struggle as a...

SADC urged to speak with...

13 hours ago | International

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has been urged to speak with one voice on the current crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).This...

China and Canada in 'hostage...

13 hours ago | Economics

NAMPA/AFP A Chinese court's decision to impose the death penalty on a...

Ghana's biggest oilfield yet discovered...

13 hours ago | Economics

NAMPA/ANANorwegian oil exploration company Aker Energy has announced the discovery of what appears to be the biggest oil find in the Ghana's history to date...

Load More