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

 

Strawberries laced with needles

5 days ago - 17 September 2018 | International

An Australian state has offered a large reward for information after sewing needles were found in strawberries sold in supermarkets, in what the federal health...

Syrian local elections held

5 days ago - 17 September 2018 | International

Voting began across government-controlled parts of Syria on Sunday for the war-ravaged country's first local elections since 2011, state news agency SANA said. Polling...

Far-right tipped to win big as Sweden votes

1 week ago - 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...

Ramaphosa's bizarre power plan

1 week ago - 10 September 2018 | International

The list of investment deals and agreements punted by President Cyril Ramaphosa after his state visit to China this week includes a hugely improbable plan...

The writing is on the wall

2 weeks ago - 07 September 2018 | International

JEMIMA BEUKES Pressure is mounting from German civil society on their government to apologise for the 1904-08 Nama and...

Choosing the lesser evil

2 weeks ago - 06 September 2018 | International

The tug-of-war between east and west for Africa's resources appears to have swung China's way after its president, Xi Jinping, put US$60 billion on the...

Calls to criminalise German skull collectors

2 weeks ago - 06 September 2018 | International

Local historian Festus Muundjua has urged the German government to criminalise the private possession of human remains by that country's citizens.This follows the third repatriation...

Müntefering’s apology torn apart

2 weeks ago - 03 September 2018 | International

JEMIMA BEUKES The Nama and Ovaherero people have taken Michelle-Jasmin Müntefering’s apology and admission of the 1904-08 Nama and Ovaherero genocide with a pinch of...

Pentagon moves to scrap Pakistan aid

2 weeks ago - 03 September 2018 | International

The US military plans to cancel US$300 million in aid to Pakistan due to Islamabad's lack of “decisive actions” in support of American strategy in...

Explosions at a Syrian military airport close to Damascus

2 weeks ago - 03 September 2018 | International

Explosions rocked a Syrian military airport near the capital Damascus late Saturday, with an NGO saying it was a “possible Israeli missile” but state media...

Latest News

Baby now four weeks on...

1 day - 21 September 2018 | Social Issues

Helao Nafidi mayor Eliaser Nghipangelwa has called on a homeless family, which includes a one-year-old baby girl, to visit him so he can “provide them...

Nationalise half of white farms

1 day - 21 September 2018 | Agriculture

Constitutional expert Nico Horn believes that half the land currently owned by white farmers can be nationalised in some way, with just compensation being paid.“Now...

Looking at the positive side

1 day - 21 September 2018 | People

Octavia Tsibes To be profitable in a highly competitive market and with the recession that is already in the eighth quarter, must not be...

Information is like money

1 day - 21 September 2018 | Columns

Llewellyn le HanéIn the modern world, the pursuit of money has become an obsessive activity for many. There’s nothing wrong with that; as long as...

Jobs: What is the strategy?

1 day - 21 September 2018 | Columns

We have lambasted government on numerous occasions for not actively coming up with tangible action plans insofar as fixing our ailing economy is concerned. For...

Kagola believes each achievement is...

1 day - 21 September 2018 | People

Justicia Shipena Leena Ndahafa Kagola is the learning and development practitioner responsible for marine training at Namport. Her role includes analysing learning and development needs,...

What is land reform all...

1 day - 21 September 2018 | Economics

Over the past few months, these essays in Market Watch have attempted to shed light on features of Namibian livelihoods and land that are not...

Sowing into the young generation

1 day - 21 September 2018 | People

Octavia Tsibes Museta hails from the Zambezi Region, where she completed her secondary schooling. She completed her tertiary education at Unam, where she...

161 govt vehicles unaccounted for

1 day - 21 September 2018 | Government

The department of transport within the ministry of works cannot account for 161 vehicles with a value of N$59 million.The anomaly was uncovered when the...

Load More