That the far-right, anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats are widely expected to enter parliament for the first time “is of particular concern here where so many are immigrants,” said Rahma Dirie, a 27-year-old Somali-born candidate for the governing Moderate Party in Stockholm municipal elections.
Wearing a black scarf tied tight around her head and her party’s bright yellow jacket, Dirie stood flanked by campaign poster-clad lightposts in the square outside the subway station at Rinkeby, a 1970s suburban development which today is home to 90 percent first generation Swedes.
Sarah, a 27-year-old born in Iraq, explained in broken Swedish that she had just voted for the first time and went with the left-wing opposition.
“I voted for Social Democrats,” she said, rocking her 11-month-old son Rame back and forth in his stroller. “I’ve seen on TV they want to do a lot of things. I think they are better.”
Nearby, there were scattered election huts — temporary campaign premises often built to look like red-log Swedish cottages — with campaigners urging passing voters to cast their ballots for the left, which also includes the Greens and the formerly communist Left Party.
A strong supporter of the red-green left-wing bloc, Ayaan Mohammed, said she was optimistic about a leftist victory.
“I think anything can happen,” the 29-year-old said, stressing: “I’m voting for Mona Sahlin” — the Social Democrat leader vying to become Sweden’s first woman prime minister.
When asked about the far-right, she said they were the main reason she was casting her ballot.
“That’s why I’m voting, so they don’t come in,” she said.
However, Nina Dakwar, 47, a campaigner for the Christian Democrats, part of the centre-right ruling coalition, said she doesn’t think her left-wing opponents have a chance.
“I think the alliance will win,” she said, adding that she was not particularly worried about the far-right’s rise.
“There is a risk (they’ll get in to parliament), but we hope they don’t,” she said, adding: “They are not such a big party. I don’t think they’ll have so much influence.
Daniel Forsling, a 33-year-old teacher, was more concerned.
“People have been talking a lot about what politics would look like in Sweden if (the far-right) gets in,” he said, standing in the lobby of a school serving as Rinkeby’s main polling station.
Some voters were still on the fence about where to cast their vote.
“I haven’t decided yet,” said municipal employee Ibrahim Warsame as he raised a yellow-and-blue Swedish flag into the overcast sky, explaining that election day is one of the country’s official flag-flying days.