Alliance miss majority as far-right voted in: poll

Swedish voters narrowly re-elected the governing centre-right Alliance coalition, but stopped short of giving it another majority, while the far-right Sweden Democrats were voted into parliament for the first time.

Alliance miss majority as far-right voted in: poll
Sweden Democrats celebrate exit poll results which put them in the Riksdag

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”.

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.

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Opposition hits back at Swedish PM: ‘Alliance is still the biggest’

The leader of Sweden’s centre-right Moderate party pledged once again to oust the country’s prime minister Stefan Löfven after the final result of last week's election was confirmed on Sunday.

Opposition hits back at Swedish PM: 'Alliance is still the biggest'
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson during an election debate on Sweden's state broadcaster SVT. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT
“If Stefan Löfven and the government do not resign voluntarily we are going to vote for them to be unseated once the parliament returns,” Ulf Kristersson said in a written comment sent to the TT newswire. 
He questioned Löfven’s claim to lead the bloc with the “greatest support in parliament”. 
“The final result if now complete, and the Alliance continues to be the biggest potential government, significantly larger than the current government,” he said. “If Stefan Löfven wants to try and build a government out of his ‘bloc’, together with the Left Party and the Green Party, he should say it in black and white.” 
The final vote count left the allocation of seats unchanged, with 144 seats shared by the Social Democrats, Green Party and Left Party, 143 going to the four centre-right Alliance parties, and 62 seats to the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats. 
This means both sides are well short of the 175 seats needed to have a majority. 
Löfven was the first to comment once the final tally was announced, arguing that as the largest party leading the largest parliamentary grouping, the Social Democrats should lead Sweden's next government. 
“The final election result shows that we Social Democrats are clearly the largest party and have the biggest support for a government if the right-wing parties do not break their promise and create a common bloc with the Sweden Democrats,” he said. 
There was, he reiterated, only one “constructive solution for the good of the country: to break with bloc politics”.
“Now all upstanding parties must take their responsibility to push Sweden forward,” he said. “In this process, no one is going to manage to achieve their party's policy program in its entirety. But through cooperation we can do so much more for our country.” 
While the four centre-right parties ruled Sweden as a tightly coordinated bloc between 2006 and 2014, the Social Democrats have never entered into coalition with the Left Party, and have only gone into coalition with the Green Party once, from 2014-2018.
Aron Etzler, the party secretary for the Left Party on Sunday said his party would be willing to take part in a Social Democrat-led government. 
“We are open to taking part in a government and for negotiating over the budget,” he told the Aftonbladet newspaper. “Without the success of the Left Party, Stefan Löfven would be in no position to make a claim to be prime minister.” 
Kristersson has been pushing Löfven to resign as prime minister since the night of the election last Sunday. 
On Wednesday, the four Alliance parties invited the Social Democrats to join them in talks over a deal across the political centre.
The aim was form a government which did not require the support of the Sweden Democrats, a party which the leaders of Sweden’s other political parties has said they will not negotiate or do deals with . 
“The Alliance is offering the Social Democrats the possibility of playing a new, constructive role,” Centre Party leader Annie Lööf told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper after the Alliance leaders’ joint article was published. 
Löfven immediately rebuffed the office. 
“The Social Democrats are being offered the chance of being a support party for the right-wing bloc,” he said. “That is a thought that should be completely dismissed.” 
Sweden's parliament is set to open on September 25th.