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Right-Wing Swedish Democrats Gain Influence in Riksdag Election

The results of Sweden’s general election are in, with the Swedish Democrats gaining even more power. Their wins allow them to maintain their place as the third-largest party in Sweden. Though possibly confusing in name, the Swedish Democrats are a far-right party with populist, nationalist tendencies and roots in Nazism. They were able to garner an impressive 17.6 percent of the vote, less than some pundits had predicted. However, it is still a sizeable victory for a party that only came to prominence in 2010 when they were first able to secure 5.7 percent of the votes — enough to gain representation in the Riksdag, Swedish parliament, according to NPR.

Sweden operates with a multi-party system, with 8 major parties vying for power. Because of this form of government, no one party rules alone, since they are generally unable to reach the threshold needed to hold full control over parliament. Instead, they must work together to form a coalition government, where one or more parties agree to work together to govern; a compromise so-to-speak. The Riksdag is composed of 349 political representatives, each from the 8 parties attempting to gain entry into the ruling coalition.

The Social Democrats currently make up the largest political party and are part of the coalition government running the country, along with their partners, the Green Party. This coalition was formed during the 2014-2018 electoral period. The Social Democrats polled best among the eight parties, winning 28.4 percent of the votes. The Moderate Party got 19.8 percent, placing them at second best. The Swedish Democrats increased their total by approximately 4.5 points from the 12.9 percent they won in 2014, reported NPR.

Since there was no clear majority, the government is thrown into jeopardy, as they must work to re-establish a coalition. The current center-left coalition is still possible, but the standing of the Social Democrats has been diminished, and the effectiveness of Stefan Löfven as leader of the party and Prime Minister has been questioned.

This election is the latest example of European voters embracing far-right parties, a trend that began amid the international refugee crisis among other issues, such as skepticism of the European Union, slow economic growth, perceived threat from immigration and a general discontent with the status quo. As NPR noted, the far-right, anti-immigrant rhetoric was on display prominently during the campaign of the Swedish Democrats; with party leader Jimmie Akesson attributing the country’s rising crime rate with the influx of migrants Sweden had received due to their welcoming “open-door” policy.

Both major party blocs, center-left and center-right, have thus far refused to consider forming a coalition group with the far-right Swedish Democrats, effectively blocking them from attaining major power in the country. Löfven commented on the election results, stating that the Swedish Democrats had nothing to offer except for “hatred.”

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