(Updated with exit polls)
by Niklas Pollard, Simon Johnson and Johan Ahlander
STOCKHOLM, Sept 11 (Reuters) – Sweden’s centre-left is on course for a narrow victory in Sunday’s general election in Sweden, according to two exit polls, which could secure outgoing Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson a new term.
However, the election was also marked by the progress of the nationalist and anti-immigration Democrats of Sweden (SD) party, which could become the second party represented in Parliament with some 20% of the votes cast.
The center-left bloc led by the social democrats would win 49.8% of the vote against 49.2% of the alliance of right-wing parties, according to the public channel SVT, 50.6% of the vote against 48.0% of after the private channel TV4, .
According to SVT projections, the centre-left would win a majority of 176 seats in the Riksdag, Sweden’s unicameral Parliament which has 349 seats, just one seat more than the absolute majority. The right-wing parties would get a total of 173 seats.
These predictions should be handled with caution because it is not uncommon in Sweden for the final result of the elections to be quite far from the exit polls.
“SVT’s exit poll has proven to be accurate every time,” said Mikael Gilljam, professor of political science at the University of Gteborg. “We don’t know if that will still be the case but if I had to bet it would be for the left.”
LONG NEGOTIATIONS IN PERSPECTIVE
The campaign was dominated by promising themes for the right and the extreme right: the rise in crime, with a “gang war” which has claimed more than 40 lives since the beginning of the year, the inflationary outbreak and the energy crisis linked to the conflict in Ukraine.
Unprecedentedly, the Conservatives, in opposition for eight years, have said they are ready to govern with the support of Jimmie Akesson’s SD, hitherto marginalized on the political scene.
According to the survey of the SVT channel, the far-right formation founded by neo-Nazis and white supremacists in 1988, which Jimmie Akesson has worked to “normalize” since he took the reins in 2005, would collect 20 .5% of the vote, compared to 17.5% in the previous elections of 2018.
The Social Democrats in power are due to win 29.3% of the vote, according to SVT, 29.7% according to TV4, which is better than four years ago (28.3%).
“My message is clear: during the (COVID-19) pandemic, we supported Swedish businesses and households. I will continue to do so if you renew your confidence in me,” said Magdalena Andersson, in office since November 2021. after having been Minister of Finance.
The right, in opposition for eight years, has promised to put Sweden “on the right track”.
“We will give priority to respect for law and order, to work and to the development of nuclear energy” in line with the fight against global warming, assured in a video the leader of the conservative party of the United States. Modrs, Ulf Kristersson.
Whatever the outcome of the vote, the negotiations for the formation of a government once again promise to be long and difficult.
Magdalena Andersson will need the support of the Greens, the Left Party and the Center Party to be reappointed as head of government. Ulf Kristersson, for his part, pledged to govern with the small Christian-Democratic party and the Liberals, relying on the parliamentary support of the SD.
During the previous legislative elections, in 2018, long negotiations had already preceded the formation of a minority government led by the social democrats.
Sweden, which is engaged in a NATO membership process, will chair the European Union from 1 January. (French version Sophie Louet and Jean-Stphane Brosse)