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Sweden braces for rollercoaster election

AFP/The Local · 19 Sep 2010, 12:12

Published: 19 Sep 2010 03:10 GMT+02:00
Updated: 19 Sep 2010 12:12 GMT+02:00

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Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, 45, is vying to see his four-party coalition become the first rightwing government to win a second term in nearly a century.

That would spell a decisive break with the hold on power of the Social Democrats, who have dominated Swedish politics for 80 years and considered the caretakers of the country's famous cradle-to-grave welfare state.

In the overcast heavily immigrant Stockholm suburb of Rinkeby, voters were trickling in to the main polling station shortly after opening at 8am.

The election "is good, it's exciting," said 47-year-old Nina Dakwar as she went in to cast her vote for the Christian Democrats -- part of the governing alliance -- for whom she had been campaigning.

"I think the alliance will win ... They are the best for Sweden," she told AFP.

Dakwar was not worried about the far-right Sweden Democrats party's rise.

"There is a risk (they'll get in to parliament), but we hope they don't," said Dakwar.

"They are not such a big party. I don't think they'll have so much influence," she said.

Three separate polls published a day before the vote showed the gap between Reinfeldt's coalition and the left-wing opposition was shrinking, but still handed the government a lead of between four and nine percentage points.

Social Democrat leader Mona Sahlin, 53, who heads up the three-party leftwing coalition, however insisted Saturday she had not given up hope of becoming Sweden's first woman prime minister.

There is still a chance "we can achieve a 'red-green' government," she said.

Sahlin's supporters remained upbeat.

"I'm optimistic. I think anything can happen," Ayaan Mohammed, a 29-year-old of Somali origin, told AFP as she voted in Rinkeby.

"I like their strategy and their system a lot better. I'm voting for Mona Sahlin," she said.

Towards the end of a campaign focused largely on the economy and the future of the welfare state, both Sahlin and Reinfeldt have meanwhile stressed the importance of achieving a majority government to offset the sway of the far-right Sweden Democrats, who are expected to make it into parliament for the first time.

"Don't expose Sweden to this experiment (of allowing the Sweden Democrats into parliament). Make sure they don't get any power," Reinfeldt said on Saturday, urging Swedes to vote in "a stable majority government."

Story continues below…

Even with a handful of seats, the far-right party could play kingmaker in a tightly split parliament with minority rule and, analysts caution, could even make it so difficult to govern that new elections would need to be called.

The three latest surveys handed the current government between 49.2 and 51.2 percent of voter intentions, which even in the worst case is enough votes to secure a clear parliamentary majority with 175 of the 349 seats.

Saturday's surveys meanwhile indicated the Sweden Democrats, who won just 2.9 percent of the vote in the 2006 elections, would garner between 3.8 and 5.9 percent of votes, while the party itself has said it expects to win as much as eight percent.

Polling stations opened at 8am and will close 12 hours later, with 7.1 million Swedish citizens eligible to vote, including a record number of first-time voters.

Turnout in Sweden is traditionally high and stood at nearly 82 percent in the last elections.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

17:39 September 19, 2010 by Ann BW
Moderaterna kom till makten efter förespeglingen att de fjämjade arbete åt alla och skattesänkningar. Vad de inte talade om var att dessa skattesänkningar åt de som tjänade mest i landet kom från sjukförsäkringssystemet. Detta system gick med 70 miljarder i vinst. Flera hundratusen sjuka i Sverige fick därmed lämna sjukförsäkringen och klara sig bäst de kan för att dessa pengar skulle användas till skattesänkningar istället. Bara de som arbetade skulle få ta del av samhället.

Om allt detta sa statsministern Fredrick Reinfeldt ingenting före valet utan det kom som en chock för alla sjuka, efter valet. Nu tvingades cansersjuka gå till arbetsförmedlingen och söka arbete, vilket de naturligtvis inte kunde få, utan fick söka hjälp hos socialförvaltningen, om de hade tur. Många har därmed blivit av med sina bostäder då de inte har kunnat betala hyran. Ni vet säkert att i Sverige kan vi ha 40grader kallt under vintern. Många sjuka har därmed valt att ta sina liv istället för denna misär.

Moderaterna har fortsatt med sina lögner under hela den här perioden och ikväll får vi veta om det blir en ny solidarisk regering som tar hand om alla i landet eller om det blir en högerregering igen med sin grundinställning: Sköt dig själv och skit i andra.
18:02 September 19, 2010 by Iraniboy
Dear Ann

Actually most of readers of this website who are usually from US/UK/EU are supporters of Sverigedemocraterna and very few are supporters of Moderaterna. I assume the there is so supporter of the left block!! So your stance (which is popular in Sweden) is not popular here!!! Here most readers are far rights and XYXphobes!!!
22:09 September 19, 2010 by RobinHood

Rarely has anyone ever posted anything as silly as you. Posters here at TL are a cross section of society ranging from fascist to communist, and Al Qaida to Zionist, and every shade in between.
13:03 September 20, 2010 by joe90
all i say is listen too the people (who voted)ha ha ha

if Reinfeldts group he wants to rule as a ``winning party´´ ask mona sahlin greens etc for 20 of their politicians from their group to abstain from the votes. it would be a level playing field leaving the rights out in the cold no longer a king maker.

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