Far-right Sweden Democrats make gains in elections

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It would also make them the biggest populist party in the Nordic region, topping the Danish People's Party, which gained 21 per cent in 2015, and would trump the 12.6 per cent for the far-right Alternative for Germany, which swept into the Bundestag previous year.

If the right-wingers were included in the conservative bloc, there would be a large conservative majority in this election, but so far the Sweden Democrats have not formed any coalition.

A senior German official is describing the Sweden's election, in which the governing party lost ground and a far-right party made gains, as a "turning point" for Sweden and Europe.

"In Sweden we live in a false dictatorship because none of the other parties will ever let the Sweden Democrats have any power", he complained, as his colleague Adin shook his head in amused disagreement.

The opposition Moderate party is also unable to take over because even an established alliance with the centre-right parties doesn't make up the numbers needed for a majority.

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.

"We have increased our mandate in parliament and we see that we will have an vast influence on what is happening in Sweden in the next week, the next few months and the next few years", he told supporters.

Lofven, whose minority government made up of the Social Democrats and the Greens with the informal support of the ex-communist Left Party, has managed to hang onto power by sealing deals with the right-wing on energy and migration, among other things.

Responding to the result, Spanish newspaper El País labelled the elections "unprecedented" and described the contest as a "vote between integration and xenophobia". Both the left-leaning bloc led by the Social Democrats and the centre-right bloc have said they would refuse to consider the Sweden Democrats as a potential coalition partner.

The Swedish prime minister has rejected calls to resign and said that "nothing will be determined" on an election night that has seen no clear victor emerge after major gains for an anti-immigration party.

Although the Sweden Democrats did not achieve their lofty goal of becoming Sweden's biggest political force, they were victorious in another way: They effectively set the terms for debate during what was an unusually heated campaign, forcing other parties to address the country's immigration policies and move significantly to the right on them.

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Hence the leader of the nationalist Sweden Democrats, Jimmy Akesson's claim, that he is the "kingmaker" being the third most popular party - but that's a simplified view.

Instead Sweden may get centre-right government with the tacit support of the far right.

With more than four-fifths of ballots counted, Sweden's national election commission reported the governing Social Democrats had 28.1 percent of the vote, making it likely to lose a significant number of seats despite emerging with the most support.

The four-party Alliance has however rejected his offer, urging him to step down and make way for them to form a government. It received a little more than one in six votes, or 17.6 per cent.

Mattias, a Stockholm resident at an election night party in the city, said he was "extremely concerned" about the far right's steady climb since it entered parliament in 2006 with 5.7 percent.

However, the Sweden Democrats have said they could not be ignored in coalition negotiations and vowed to use its grown influence.

"The Alliance have already gone out and locked themselves up in a position", she said. Voters on Sunday did not doubt the Nordic welfare model, but many hesitate to let more immigrants without similar cultural traits share the system.

The prime minister must choose between: risking losing core voters by dealing with the party he calls racist; and bargaining, for the sake of his career.

Akesson labelled the vote a choice between immigration and welfare in a campaign that was unusually antagonistic.

Far-right parties have gained strength in several European countries, including Germany and Italy.

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