Nationalist party Swedish Democrats (SD), once linked to neo-Nazis, have won about 18% of the vote, up from 12.9% in the last national election.

By Daniel Herborn

Posted on September 10, 2018

The two main blocs are the centre-left coalition and the centre-right Alliance, which each have around 40% of the vote. Neither party is likely to achieve a majority, though both have vowed not to govern with the SD.

Stefan Löfven, Sweden’s Prime Minister, said that a cross-bloc coalition would now be needed to rule. His Social Democrats party recorded a vote of around 28.4%, its lowest in a century.

SD has won support on the back of its nationalist, anti-immigration platform

On SD, however, he said “The Sweden Democrats can never, and will never, offer anything that will help society. They will only increase division and hate.”

Jimmie Akesson, leader of the SD, told a party rally he would cooperate with any other party to ensure his party had a position of real influence.

“We increase our seats in parliament and we see that we will gain huge influence over what happens in Sweden during the coming weeks, months and years,” Akesson said.

Akesson has led the SD since 2005, when it had origins in the fascist movement Bevara Sverige Svenskt (‘Keep Sweden Swedish’) and was associated with violent far-right groups.

In 2012, he introduced a zero tolerance policy for racists and extremists within the SD, though a number of party members have been accused of racism and hate speech.

The SD also favours a Swedish exit from the EU or ‘Swexit’, though the policy is not widely popular nor supported by any of the other major parties.

Swedish election results part of a broader trend towards populism

Like many countries in Europe, Sweden has recently been in the grip of populism with the SD party moving from the political fringe and into the mainstream.

A related trend is the rise of junk news. A recent study from Oxford University concluded that one in three articles shared in Sweden with politics-related hashtags came from junk news sources.

Immigration has become a major issue in Sweden. More than 160,000 asylum seekers have arrived in the country since 2015, the second highest rate per capita in Europe.

The SD has proposed policies controlling how immigrant people can practice their culture. They also want to wind back the provision of free health care for undocumented migrants and replace money with coupons for basic goods in welfare programs for migrants.