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The Guardian

Swedish election: far right makes gains but overall result on knife-edge

Sweden Democrats become second biggest party after vote on Sunday

The far-right (LOL) Sweden Democrats party was the big winner in the country’s election on Sunday, increasing its share of the vote by two to three percentage points and becoming the second largest party, but the overall result was too close to call as counting continued.

With 95% of votes counted, the rightwing bloc had 49.7% of the vote, which would give it a majority of one seat in parliament over the incumbent leftwing bloc.

Exit polls on Sunday night at first suggested a narrow victory for the Social Democrats and their centre-left allies. But as the votes were counted the tally swung towards the right.

A conclusive result may not be known until votes from Swedes living abroad are counted in the middle of the week, while the closeness of the race may yet complicate the formation of a working government.

The leader of the Sweden Democrats said early on Monday that the rightwing bloc was likely heading for victory. “Right now it looks like there will be a change of power,” Jimmie Åkesson said in a speech to party members.

The incumbent Social Democrat prime minister, Magdalena Andersson, told cheering supporters on Sunday night: “We’re not going to have a final result tonight”, Andersson, 55, called on Swedes to “have patience” and “let democracy run its course”.

The prospect that the far-right Sweden Democrats, who appeared to take more than 20% of the poll, may for the first time achieve direct influence over government policy marks a seismic shift in a country far better known for its liberal traditions.

The SD emerged from Sweden’s neo-Nazi movement in the mid-1990s and still struggles to shake off accusations of extremism. It was treated as a pariah by other parties, but three years ago, the centre-right Moderate party embraced cooperation with the far right.

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