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Sweden debates shock British election win

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Sweden debates shock British election win
British Prime Minister David Cameron. Photo: TT
08:09 CEST+02:00
UPDATED: Swedish right-wing parties are celebrating David Cameron's shock victory in the UK election while the Social Democrats are mourning the result of an election which could have seen Sweden's government forge closer ties with a Labour-led Britain.

David Cameron returned to Downing Street -- the official headquarters of the British prime minister -- on Friday after a shock election victory in the UK.

His Conservative party defied opinion polls and was forecast to secure 331 seats in parliament, once all votes were counted, giving his party a very slim majority.

“It's an exceptional victory David Cameron is heading towards. I think that at the last moment in the polling booth he has made voters feel that it's the safer government option,” former Swedish centre-right Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt told public broadcaster SVT on Friday. 

The ex-Moderate party head and the British leader are reported to have become good friends during their time working together.


Fredrik Reinfeldt and David Cameron in 2011. Photo: TT

Swedish Left Party head Jonas Sjöstedt said: “Of course it's disappointing, I had been hoping for a Labour victory. The UK is a country which is being ripped apart by class differences and great poverty and now that looks likely to continue."

The Social Democrats were also hoping for a Labour-led government in the UK.

"We strongly support the Labour party that is our sister party and in Ed Miliband they have a strong and progressive leader," party secretary Carin Jämtin told The Local ahead of the vote.

Miliband announced later on Friday that he would resign, saying his party needed to "rebuild" with a new leader. 

The Conservative win was slammed by many Swedish commentators on Twitter, with the hashtags #GE2015 and #EdMiliband trending in the Nordic nation throughout the day.

"Depressing," one Swedish journalist wrote.

But other posts reflected the view of Moderate politician Tomas Tobé who rejoiced at the result, writing "good for Great Britain, good for Sweden".

Many had feared that the UK election would not see a clear winner with the potential of a hung parliament. However, polls predicted early on Friday morning that Cameron would be able to claim an outright majority. Following this, the British pound rose against the dollar, euro and krona.

READ ALSO: 'Will UK election force us Brits from Sweden?'

The anti-EU party Ukip was expected to gain 13 percent of the vote, once all ballot papers were counted. But due to the UK's first-past-the-post voting system, this will only translate to one seat in parliament, with its leader Nigel Farage failing to become an MP.

However, many Swedes and Brits alike voiced concerns on Friday that a Conservative win would mean a potential UK exit from the European Union. Although Cameron himself has said he supports EU membership, he has previously pledged to hold a referendum on the issue if he was re-elected.

“My conviction is that the EU needs the UK and that the UK needs the EU so I think it would be a big mistake,” the Social Democrats' Carin Jämtin said, sentiments which were echoed by her centre-right counterpart.

“Every country owns the right to make these decisions on their own. However, it is clear that the UK has a positive influence on the work in the EU. In terms of policy Sweden and the UK stand close on a lot of issues such as free trade, open markets and a transparent EU. It would be a loss if the UK left the EU,” the Moderates' Tobias Tobé told The Local on the eve of the election.

READ ALSO: Why are Swedes obsessed with UK politics?

The UK election results came in as the result of a new poll by Expressen/Demoskop suggested that Sweden's centre-right Alliance opposition now enjoys more support (41.5 percent) than the ruling centre-left coalition and its supporting Left Party (40.4 percent).

However, Social Democratic Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said he would hold off judgement on the opinion poll until the next parliamentary election in three and a half years' time.

"There's only one poll that matters, and you know which one that is," he told Expressen.

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