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Sweden faces deadlock as far-right gains in vote

Updated September 11, 2018

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Stockholm: Supporters celebrate the Social Democratic Party’s victory on Monday.—AFP
Stockholm: Supporters celebrate the Social Democratic Party’s victory on Monday.—AFP

STOCKHOLM: Sweden faced political deadlock on Monday after the far-right made gains in legislative elections whose result makes it tough to form a functioning government.

The prime minister is usually the leader of the party with the most votes, but Sweden’s fragmented political landscape after Sunday’s vote makes it impossible to predict who will build the next government, a process likely to take weeks.

As expected, neither Social Democratic Prime Minister Stefan Lofven’s centre-left bloc nor the centre-right opposition garnered a majority.

The far-right Sweden Democrats, with roots in the neo-Nazi movement, solidified their position as third-biggest party with 17.6 per cent — up almost five points from the previous election — though they have yet to shake their pariah status.

Far-right parties have gained strength in several European countries, including Germany and Italy. Far-right leaders in Austria, Italy and France hailed the Sweden Democrats’ results.

“However the dramatic bloc battle plays out, it looks like it will be difficult for Sweden to have a functioning government,” paper of reference Dagens Nyheter predicted. Lofven met on Monday with his party leadership to map out a way forward.

Parliamentary group leader Anders Yge­man said “it could take weeks, maybe even months” before Sweden had a government in place. Lofven’s bloc holds a razor-thin, one-seat lead over the opposition Alliance.

Fewer than 30,000 votes separate the blocs and nearly 200,000 ballots have yet to be counted, including votes cast in advance and abroad.

The Social Democrats won 28.4 percent of votes, down 2.6 points from the 2014 elections and their worst score in a century.

“Nevertheless, voters made the Social Democrats Sweden’s biggest party,” Lofven said. He has extended an invitation to the opposition to break the deadlock.

Published in Dawn, September 11th, 2018