Social Democrats remain the strongest force in Sweden elections

Stockholm The election thriller Sweden will not come to an end on Monday night. A provisional election result will be available on Wednesday at the earliest, when votes from abroad and late early votes have been counted, the Swedish electoral authority told the TT news agency early Monday morning. The Social Democratic Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and her conservative challenger Ulf Kristersson also pointed out to party supporters shortly before 1 a.m. that no decision would be made that night.

At that point, about 92 percent of the votes had been counted. With around 30.5 percent of the vote, Andersson's Social Democrats were again well on the way to becoming by far the strongest force. Overall, however, the conservative-right party bloc of their challenger Kristersson was just ahead of Andersson's left-wing camp. The gap between the blocks was just 0.9 percentage points. The first forecasts on Sunday evening still saw the Prime Minister's camp in the lead.

Late on Sunday evening, it was not yet clear who would ultimately have the parliamentary majority on his side. The head-to-head race was so close that many top politicians were initially reluctant to make statements in the evening. Only one word was repeated at the various election parties: "Exciting!" The Swedish media spoke of a "valrysare" - an election thriller.

Election in Sweden: Complicated government formation threatens

The eight parliamentary parties in Sweden are currently divided into two groups of four - a left-wing and a conservative block. Before the election, Andersson's side had the minimum majority of 175 of the 349 seats in parliament, Kristersson's bloc 174. Late on Sunday evening, the situation at the Swedish broadcaster SVT was exactly the opposite: Kristersson's camp there had 175 seats and Andersson's with 174 around 11:15 p.m.

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Looking at the individual parties, however, the result is quite clear: Andersson's Social Democrats remain the strongest force in Sweden. After counting 75 percent of the votes, they were at 30.4 percent. The Sweden Democrats, who were at 20.7 percent at the time, became the second strongest force for the first time. Kristersson's moderates followed in third place with 19.0 percent.

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Many top politicians were therefore initially reluctant to make hasty statements in the evening - also against the background that the first forecasts for the 2018 election deviated by several percentage points from the final election result. "Nothing is clear," said the social democratic party secretary Tobias Baudin.

>> Read here: Will the energy crisis become a financial crisis? How Sweden wants to prevent domino effects

Regardless of the outcome of the election, Sweden is likely to face a lengthy process of forming a government, as it did after the general election four years ago. Because even within the two blocs, the parties disagree on several issues.

Andersson would have extremely different viewpoints the left and the liberal Center Party under one roof. It cannot be ruled out that other coalition models across the two blocs could also be found when the government was formed.

Conservatives in Sweden approach right-wing populists

Andersson was only elected Prime Minister of Sweden in November 2021, succeeding her party colleague Stefan Löfven and becoming the first woman ever. Since then, the former Finance Minister has led a minority government made up entirely of Social Democrats, which in the Reichstag has so far been supported by the liberal Center Party, the left and the Greens is dependent.

Meanwhile, Kristersson relies on moderates, Christian Democrats and Liberals and the support of the previously isolated Sweden Democrats.

Under Andersson, Sweden submitted an application in mid-May as part of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine Nato-Membership provided. In the election campaign, however, the sharp rise in energy prices and the rampant gang crime in the Scandinavian EU country were the most important issues.

The focus on fighting criminals apparently played into the hands of the right-wing in particular. Andersson made it clear again on election day that she was ready to work with all parties except the Sweden Democrats. She was very disappointed that other parties had decided differently in this regard.

Also a climate activist Greta Thunberg warned against populist tones. She criticized at the weekend that a young activist had been publicly ridiculed by a moderate politician in the course of a television debate between Andersson and Kristersson.

"A society where political parties systematically mock and hate children who simply point to research is a sick society," Thunberg wrote on Twitter on Sunday. “Anti-democratic and populist winds are blowing strong. We have to stand up to that," she said.

More: Gang wars instead of bullying: why Sweden is drifting towards the extreme right

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