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Alliance miss majority as far-right voted in: poll

AFP/The Local · 19 Sep 2010, 21:53

Published: 19 Sep 2010 20:16 GMT+02:00
Updated: 19 Sep 2010 21:53 GMT+02:00

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Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, 45, should see his four-party Alliance become the first right-leaning government to win a second term in nearly a century.

However, with just 49.1 percent of the vote, according to exit polls broadcast on Swedish public television, Reinfeldt's coalition is likely to fall narrowly short of a majority of seats in parliament.

His task will also be complicated by the fact that the far-right Sweden Democrats appeared to have clearly passed the four-percent barrier needed to get into parliament.

Even with a handful of parliamentary seats, observers have cautioned the far-right party could play kingmaker or spoiler, forcing Reinfeldt to seek new alliances or even make it so difficult to govern that new elections would need to be called.

Meanwhile, Reinfeldt's win spells a decisive end to the rival Social Democrats' 80-year domination of Swedish politics and their role as caretakers of the country's famous cradle-to-grave welfare state.

The party, which for the first time had created a coalition of left-wing parties to increase its chances of winning power, suffered a historic loss according to exit polls, which showed it had garnered just 30 percent, down from 35.3 percent in 2006, when its score was already one of its weakest on record.

However, the party is still the most popular single party, with the Moderates next at 29.1 percent.

Jan Eliasson, a former Social Democratic foreign minister, insisted late

Sunday the apparent poor showing for his party would not weaken Sahlin's position.

"She is a strong and very admired leader and she has really shown herself to have prime minister qualities during this campagn," he told Swedish public television.

Voting appeared slow during the day Sunday, but turnout is traditionally around 80 percent in Sweden and 2.2 million of the 7 million electorate had already cast their ballots in advance.

However, the total voter turnout was not expected to be clear for several hours, an election official said Sunday, pointing out that there are only paper ballots in Sweden.

Towards the end of the campaign, focused largely on the economy and the future of the welfare state, both Sahlin and Reinfeldt stressed the importance of achieving a majority government to offset the sway of the far-right Sweden Democrats.

The anti-immigrant party won around 4.6 percent in Sunday's vote, exit polls showed, which is enough to secure seats in parliament.

"Our aim is to become Sweden's biggest party," Sweden Democrat member Mattias Karlsson told Swedish pulbic television at the party's election party, adding he expected that could happen "2018 perhaps".

Story continues below…

Another high-up in the far-right party, Bjoern Söder, also rejoiced over the poll numbers, pointing out, "At the last election, the Sweden Democrats votes were underestimated in the exit poll...I think that our numbers are going to increase."

During the campaign, both Reinfeldt's coalition and Mona Sahlin's opposition bloc promised not to cooperate with the far-right, opening the way to re-worked coalition blocs and possibly even new elections.

Reinfeldt has hinted he would try to cooperate with the Green Party if his coalition falls short of a majority, while Sahlin said she would try to woo over the Liberal and Centre parties.

However, political scientist Tommy Möller pointed out that the numbers so far come from exit polls, stressing, "It is still within the frame of possibility for the Alliance to win a majority."

Near final election results were expected within a few hours, but the conclusive results were not likely to be clear until Wednesday at the earliest, according to election authorities.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

21:25 September 19, 2010 by planet.sweden
Sweden still doesn't understand democracy..

I cast my vote this evening giving the party workers who trust voting papers on me my traditional four yearly speech about there being no democracy without a secret ballot.

Did they get it? Do they ever!?

The nice lady from Moderaterna explained it was a "tradition in Sweden" not to have a secret ballot. I countered that we used to have a tradition in England of cutting criminals heads off and sticking them on pikes. The thing with traditions is you've got to know when they've had their day and it's time to move on.

I asked her how she thought Moderaterna supporters felt picking up one of her party's papers in front of their neighbours in Lulea (traditional Communist territory), and likewise the Socialdemokraterna man about how Vänsterpartiet voters here in Östermalm might feel, especially if their boss was standing behind them.

But I was getting nowhere.

"Must be a Sverigedemokraterna supporter" mumbled two Östermalmies behind me, unwittingly proving my point about peer pressure.

A student added that no one should vote for a party they are ashamed of. Which I replied is an argument the authorities of both Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany would have been more than ready to sing along with her to. As of course would the UK's Arthur Scargill whose bully boys used to beat up those union members who they thought should be "ashamed" of how they'd just publically voted.

Alas it's hopeless. When it comes to free speech and democracy the Swedes so longed conditioned to one party rule and conformity of thought simply don't get it. I agree with the Danes, Sweden needs the intervention of the EU to teach it the basics of democracy.

And for those wondering I voted Miljöpartiet, always do. I don't mind telling people but I dislike a system which forces me to.
21:32 September 19, 2010 by RobinHood
I'm with you Planet. An essential ingredient of a proper democracy is the right to cast your vote in secret.

Until this defect is corrected, Sweden is not a proper democracy.
22:07 September 19, 2010 by Frank Lee
I can't help but think that Swedes would be highly dismissive and critical of any other country--especially the United States--if such a tradition were in place outside of Sweden and the Swedes used a secret ballot. But why am I surprised by Swedish hypocricy?
22:11 September 19, 2010 by "green Swede"
not sure i understand,you choose your ballot from the rack,sign on the dotted line behind the partition,place it in the envelop,seal it and it's popped in the box,at least thats what i did today,seems pretty air tight (sceret) to me.
22:25 September 19, 2010 by nevon
It is a secret ballot. The first two posters don't know what a secret ballot is. The voting papers are there for convenience. If you don't want to, you can just bring a blank piece of paper with you and write down who you're voting for. Even if you didn't, I don't see how anyone can tell who you've voted for if you just pick up a bunch of voting slips from different parties and went to the booth.
22:29 September 19, 2010 by GefleFrequentFlyer

Otherwise it becomes a charade. You would think sweden would be more savvy on such a obvious issue.
22:46 September 19, 2010 by planet.sweden

I do know what a secret ballot is thanks, and Sweden hasn't got one.

I wouldn't want to risk writing down by hand the name of a party on a scap of paper. It might be missread... "Would that be Sverigedemokraterna or Socialdemokraterna? Oh I'll tell you what I'll choose for them". Or simply classed as a spoilt paper. And are abbreviations allowed in your special rules as in SD, or eh SD?

And I've heard the one about picking up all ballot papers a million times and it still doesn't fit with a secret ballot. Imagine in a northern communist voting village picking up the Moderaterna voting slip - even if you pick up all the others as well - while your neighbours proudly walk to the Vänsterpartiet slip and pick it up alone. As far as they're concerned you're already "guilty".

A genuine secret ballot has to be exactly that, "secret", not some botched together alternative with a multiplicity of excuses and caveats.
22:56 September 19, 2010 by RobinHood

And so we learn that the proper way to keep your vote secret in Sweden, is either to make a DIY ballot paper, or to engage in subterfuge when you collect your ballot paper from the rack.

What a strange concept of democracy you have.
23:22 September 19, 2010 by nevon
The ballot is secret. Even if you live in the hypothetical village of judgmental communists who will persecute you for not voting communist, you can always proudly grab the communist slip... and then cast either your own ballot or a ballot that you've picked up or printed beforehand.

You can complain that you shouldn't have to take an extra step to ensure that no one can guess who you've voted for, and I would agree, but that is a question of convenience; not a question of democracy or the absence of a secret ballot. So stop being drama queens.
23:28 September 19, 2010 by Jimmy
Why not just one paper with all the parties names. Then you pick up one and mark down who you are voting for the put it in the box.

Simple isn't it
23:54 September 19, 2010 by manrush
Oh waaah waaah.

Stop whinging and cast your vote.

Whether it's secret or not should not be relevant.

You won't be beaten or burned with cigs for voting, so stop being such chickens.
00:03 September 20, 2010 by planet.sweden

"Whether it's secret or not should not be relevant."

Oh Lord, a thousand years of Western progress is completely wasted on some.
07:27 September 20, 2010 by RobinHood

"Whether it's secret or not should not be relevant."

Teaching you to understand democracy is like teaching my dog to understand opera.
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