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Swedish election LATEST: Right-wing leaders start talks after cliffhanger vote

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Swedish election LATEST: Right-wing leaders start talks after cliffhanger vote

Sweden Democrat MP Richard Jomshof (SD) talks with journalists outside the Swedish parliament
on Monday. Photo: Tim Aro/TT 12130

Main points:

  • Right-wing and far-right bloc in position to take power

  • Conservative Moderates leader credited with 175 of 349 seats in parliament.

  • Far-right Sweden Democrats credited with 20.7 percent of votes

  • Final result would only be ready on Wednesday

  • Sweden Democrat, Christian Democrat, and Liberal leaders hold ‘constructive’ talks at Moderate HQ

Sweden again found itself in a delicate parliamentary situation after Sunday’s legislative election, with the right-wing seen holding a razor-thin lead over Andersson’s outgoing left bloc.

“The close result in parliament suggests Sweden is heading for yet another messy mandate”, newspaper of reference Dagens Nyheter wrote on Monday.

READ ALSO: Why we might have to wait until Thursday for Sweden’s final election result

With the vote deemed too close to call, election authorities said a final result would only be ready on Wednesday, when the last ballots from abroad and from advance voting had been counted.

Editorialist Anders Lindberg of daily Aftonbladet said it appeared “impossible for the left to win because the votes from abroad are… usually in favour of the right”.

But Maria Solevid, who carried out a survey of Swedish overseas voters in 2014 which indicated that they skewed towards the Moderate Party and away from the Social Democrats, said the evidence from past elections did not point towards a right-wing shift.

“There is no systematic pattern that supports the idea that the votes that are added have a right-wing tendency,” she told The Local. “We cannot say whether there will be any shift, and we cannot predict how the shift would look like, or say that it will always be to the right.”

With 95 percent of votes counted on Monday, the right-wing led by conservative Moderates leader Ulf Kristersson was credited with an absolute majority of 175 of 349 seats in parliament.

Andersson’s left bloc trailed with 174.

If confirmed, the Social Democrats would be out after eight years in power.

Kristersson, who vowed during the campaign to crack down on law and order amid soaring crime rates, said late Sunday he was “ready to build a new and strong government” if the results were confirmed.

READ ALSO: Sweden elects – Who exactly did Sweden elect?

Far-right gains

The election’s big winner was, however, the anti-immigration, nationalist Sweden Democrats party, led by Jimmie Åkesson.

It was credited with 20.7 percent of votes, making it the biggest party on the right and the second biggest in the country behind the Social Democrats.

“It’s looking pretty damn good now”, 43-year-old Åkesson told cheering supporters late Sunday.

The right bloc — made up of the Sweden Democrats, Moderates, Christian Democrats and Liberals — were seen winning 49.8 percent of votes.

The left, comprised of the Social Democrats, the Left, the Greens and the Centre parties, were meanwhile credited with 48.8 percent, trailing by around 47,000 votes out of 7.8 million eligible voters.

Prime Minister Andersson, 55, has refused to throw in the towel just yet.

“We’re not going to have a final result tonight”, she told supporters late Sunday as her party was seen posting a strong result of around 30 percent of votes.

She called on Swedes to “have patience” and “let democracy run its course”.

The election marked a major shift in Swedish politics. For the first time, the Moderates, Christian Democrats and Liberals tied up with the far-right, long treated as “pariahs” by other political parties.

Kristersson orchestrated the change, initiating exploratory talks in 2019 with the Sweden Democrats and then deepening their cooperation.

The Christian Democrats, and to a lesser extent the Liberals, later followed suit. “Our goal is to sit in government. Our goal is a majority government,” Åkesson said late Sunday.

Tensions on the right

Even before the final results were in, the right began their first meetings on Monday, with Åkesson seen arriving at the Moderates offices around

The right-wing bloc is, however, rife with internal divisions, and Kristersson could struggle to form a stable coalition government.

The Liberals have opposed the idea of the Sweden Democrats being given cabinet posts, and would prefer for them to remain in the background providing informal support in parliament.

Åkesson has previously insisted his party sit in government, or else he will present a long list of costly demands in exchange for his support.

That could be too much for the Liberals to stomach.

“It would suffice for one of the Liberal party’s far-right-critical MPs to dissent for Ulf Kristersson’s government to find itself in serious trouble,” Dagens Nyheter wrote on Monday.

Political analyst Ulf Bjereld agreed.

A Kristersson-led government “will have to deal with very strong internal tensions and some Liberals will demand that they start to cooperate with the Social Democrats instead”, he told AFP.

The Sweden Democrats “have their roots in neo-Nazism and on the other side the Liberals stand for everything the Sweden Democrats don’t,” he added.

Åkesson ate lunch with Kristersson at the Moderate Party’s offices in Stockholm’s Gamla Stan, but would not be drawn on what, if any, discussions were had.

“I’m going to eat lunch,” he told the Aftonbladet newspaper as he was met on the way to the meeting. “I don’t think who I’m going to eat lunch with is of public interest right now. When we have something to say, we’ll say it.”

Both the Liberal Party leader Johan Pehrson and the Christian Democrat leader Ebba Busch also visited the Moderate Party offices later in the afternoon.

“This is a discussion which is being carried out in an extremely constructive spirit, and also respecting the fact that we do not yet have an election result,” said Gunnar Strömmar, the Moderates’ General Secretary. “If it turns out that there’s a majority for a change in government, this is a process which must be allowed to take time.”

“They are talking. You can quote me on that,” confirmed Linus Bylund, the Sweden Democrats’ lead special advisor, of Åkesson’s meeting. “But I don’t think they’re talking about isterband [a sort of southern Swedish grain and suet sausage, a little like haggis]

Analysts stressed Sweden was in need of political stability amid a busy docket in the coming months.

The country faces a looming economic crisis, is in the midst of a historic and delicate NATO application process, and is due to take over the EU presidency in 2023.