Sweden election results: Sweden Democrats make huge gains

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"I think we are facing an extremely complicated process to form a government, maybe the most complicated in modern times", said political scientist Niklas Bohlin at the Mid Sweden University.

Centre-left and centre-right parties have ruled together only a handful of times since the mid-1930s.

To avoid that situation, Kristersson appears to favour some form of broad cross-bloc cooperation with the Social Democrats.

The preliminary results suggest the Sweden Democrats have fallen short of expectation and that voters have not been as receptive to their anti-immigration rhetoric as it may have seemed.

The Sweden Democrats, meanwhile, are celebrating their ascent after rising from obscurity a little over a decade ago to a position of incontestable political influence today.

The SD, widely tipped to make gains in the election, won about 18 percent support, jumping almost five percentage points since the last elections four years ago.

Nevertheless, their leader Jimmie Akesson told a party rally: "We will gain huge influence over what happens in Sweden during the coming weeks, months and years".

The current coalition, headed by outgoing PM Stefan Lofven, is made up of his Social Democrats and the Green Party, and is supported in parliament by the Left Party.

"It's expected", Karin Kangas, 52, who voted for the Social Democrats, said of the confused parliamentary picture.

The Social Democrats and the Moderates, both the largest party's in their blocs, have both lost votes since the last election, which are now creating challenges when the parties will negotiate a new Government.

The day before voting, Social Democrats leader Jimmie Akesson claimed the prime minister was prioritising the needs of new immigrants over those of Swedish citizens.

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With neither main bloc able to command a majority, the Sweden Democrats - who want the country to leave the European Union and put a freeze on immigration - could play a decisive role in negotiations over forming a government. Parallel to that development, several opinion pieces of Swedish dailies have downplayed the racism of the Sweden Democrats.

However, the unaligned far-right Sweden Democrats gained 17.6% of the vote, up from 12.9% in the previous 2014 elections.

Sweden saw itself as a "humanitarian superpower" for years, but a rise in gang violence in immigrant-dominated, deprived city suburbs has also won support for the Sweden Democrats.

The Sweden Democrats, shunned by all the other parties since entering parliament in 2010, have promised to sink any cabinet that refuses to give them a say in policy, particularly on immigration.

As Nicholas Aylott and Niklas Bolin explained in their preview of the election for EUROPP, there have traditionally been two main blocs in Swedish politics (a left bloc and a right bloc). Sweden's own form of parliamentary democracy - which uses proportional representation to distribute seats in the country's parliament, the Riksdag, according to the proportion of votes they received - ensures some level of political fragmentation.

Kristersson is leader of the Moderates and the four-party center-right Alliance's candidate for prime minister.

She said the result was better than she had feared for her party and its coalition partner the Green party.

Lofven eventually said Sweden no longer could cope with the influx and immigration laws were tightened.

At the same time, the SD is a one-issue movement, nearly exclusively focusing on immigration - and demanding a much stricter approach to it.

But it's also interesting to note that immigration may not have turned out to be quite such an important factor to voters than expected. Nevertheless, prime minister Stefan Löfven did not resign on election night, citing the need for stability.

"If nobody is talking about stuff that people see as problems, the only answers and understanding that they're going to have are the ones offered by the populist parties".

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