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Sweden sees nationalist rise in historically close elections

A rise in crime precipitated the extremely close race, whose results make it impossible to say whether Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson will remain in power.

STOCKHOLM (CN) — For the first time in its 12-year history in parliament, Sweden's anti-immigration party is primed to hold the second greatest number of seats after one of the closest national elections in its history saw a nearly even split in votes for the country's left and right wings.

Officially the results of the race are still too close to call, with 94% of the ballots counted by the end of the business day Monday.

They show Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson's Social Democratic Party with almost 30% of the votes and thus likely to remain the country's largest party, a designation it has held since 2014.

Ulf Kristersson from the center-right Moderate Party has 19% of the votes, losing critical ground to the far-right Sweden Democrats, which got 20.6% of the 7.8 million votes, officially become the country's second-biggest party. The parties remain in opposition but could take over leadership on the liberal wing.

Because none of Sweden's eight parties can hold a majority of the 349-member parliament known as Riksdag, the different parties need to work together for laws to be passed. With the Sweden Democrats' party leader Jimmie Åkesson stating that he expects to be in government, Andersson and Kristersson will have to seek cooperation with the various smaller parties.

The Moderates and the Social Democrats have not diversified much in their political visions and promises to the Swedish citizens during the election campaign. Instead, both candidates have pledged stricter rules on crime, higher levels of safety, and more financial help to cope with the increasing energy prices and inflation.

Gang violence has been an overarching topic in the electoral campaign. Sweden has seen shots fired daily, and the country has already hit its current annual record of 47 shooting victims.

As violence has gradually moved out of the bigger cities to hitherto peaceful suburban areas near schools and kindergartens, the Swedish citizens have put more and more pressure on the politicians for a public safety crackdown.   

During the last political duel, a mom by the name of Susanne Yakes left the room in silence by asking the prime minister candidates “how they think it feels to lose a child because they have not managed to put a stop to criminals.”

”This is precisely the reason why I became head of the party and later prime minister," Prime Minister Andersson said later in an interview with the main state news channel of neighboring Denmark. "My biggest priority is to turn over every rock to destroy the gangs and break the circulation driving crime.”

Other central issues for the Swedish voters have been the increasing gas, electricity and everyday consumer goods prices.

Even though the result is already in, the Swedish population will most likely have to wait a while for a new government constellation to take form. In 2018, negotiations took no less than 134 days before a Social Democratic minority government was ultimately established.

One of the main factors was the collective unwillingness from both the left and right wing to corporate with the Sweden Democrats, a party that entered parliament in 2010 with a platform of immigration rules and border control procedures. Having distances itself from the roots of its 1980s-era founders in the fascist and neo-Nazi movements, the Swedent Democrats wants asylum seekers barred from entering Sweden and to partially disqualify unemployed migrants from national welfare services.

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