The Social Democrats have achieved their worst result in a century, while the Sweden Democrats will have their biggest-ever faction in parliament, say exit polls released as voting stations in the Scandinavian country closed.
A survey published by TV4 15 minutes before the voting deadline of 8 pm, claimed that the center-left Social Democrats will have 25.4 percent of the vote, the center-right Moderate Party 18.4, and the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats 16.3.
But an alternative poll published by national broadcaster SVT, put the Sweden Democrats, which first entered parliament in 2010, in second place with 19.2 of the vote.
“This is a fantastically big success,” Julia Kronlid, vice chairman of the Sweden Democrats, told the media. “You must remember that support for us is also often underestimated in exit polls. So I hope and believe that when we get the real results, we’ll be even bigger.”
A more detailed SVT poll breakdown showed that while just over half of the Sweden Democrats supporters had voted for the party four years ago, the second biggest faction, nearly one-in-five, were defectors from the Social Democrats, a party that spent the campaign explicitly labeling the upstarts “Nazis” and “racists.” Sweden Democrats leader Jimmie Akesson’s promises to curb migration, and provide better integration, also appears to have played well with former supporters of the Moderates, the party that appears to be squeezed uncomfortably between the socialist left, and a more outspoken right.
The SVT survey said that a record 41 percent of the electorate changed their party allegiance from the previous election, as voters move away from the established centrist parties. This is a trend that has been replicated throughout Europe, most recently in the German and Italian elections.
If the result of the exit polls is reflected by actual tallies, which will arrive throughout Sunday night, neither the current center-left nor the center-right coalition, which appear to be in a deadlock, will have a majority in the Riksdag. The Green Party, which propped up the Social Democrats in the last four years, may altogether fail to pass the 4 percent cut-off for parliamentary representation.
Both of the main parties have said that they will not form a coalition with Akesson’s faction, meaning that a minority government, grand coalition or prolonged political crisis are all on the table.
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This could mean months more of the bitterness that has marked the most intense campaign in the country’s history, and the first since the major immigrant influx during which Sweden proportionally accepted more refugees than any other country in Europe.
Once unpalatable to the mainstream, the Sweden Democrats have presented themselves as the only honest and effective alternative to the mainstream parties, promising to curb migration, enforce integration, and tackle rising violent and sexual crime.
In turn the center-left, which had a dismal approval rating in the 20s going into Sunday’s vote, despite steady economic growth, have mobilized all electoral resources to paint their opponents as an existential threat to Swedish society and political system as a whole.
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