Hjalmar Branting (1860-1925), Prime Minister of Sweden 1920, 1921-23 and 1924-25.
Sweden Joins Europe's Move to Right Over Migration Backlash
By Pietro Decristofaro & Jeff Schaeffer
Stockholm -- Sweden has become the latest European country to have its political order shaken by a backlash against large-scale immigration, with voters giving a boost to a far-right party and weakening the more established ones.
Sunday's election left the two rival blocs _ a centre-left group and a centre-right alliance _ with roughly 40 per cent of the vote each, portending what is likely to be weeks of uncertainty and complex coalition talks before a new government can be formed.
The Sweden Democrats, which has roots in a neo-Nazi movement but has worked to soften its image, won 17.6 per cent, up from 13 per cent in 2014, for a third-place finish. That showing is not strong enough for it to lead a government, but it reflects how deeply that Sweden, famous for its progressive policies, is being transformed by migration.
The country that is home to the Nobel prizes and militarily neutral policies for the better part of two centuries has been known for its comparatively open doors to migrants and refugees.
Sunday's general election was the first since Sweden, with a population of 10 million, took in a record 163,000 migrants in 2015 _ the highest per capita of any European country.
That had followed the earlier arrival of hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers.
Since 2015, the centre-left government has sharply restricted immigration, but many Swedes complain that society cannot cope with integrating so many newcomers, many of them Muslims from Africa and the Middle East.
The growing strength of the Sweden Democrats also reflects how old taboos are collapsing.
Only a few years ago, Swedes would be shunned as racist for suggesting the country had limits on how many migrants it should take, or for expressing the view that it is hard to integrate Africans and Arabs. But people increasingly are expressing such ideas more freely _ adding to the support for the party.
While the result is a boost for the Sweden Democrats, the party fell short of pre-election predictions.
The Expressen tabloid said in editorial that ``it all pointed at the Sweden Democrats taking over the position as Sweden's second-biggest party. But the expected ... bang didn't happen.''
The election came after populist and anti-migrant parties made significant political gains in Germany, Austria and Italy since 2015 _ the other countries that have shouldered the heaviest burden of accommodating those fleeing war and conflict or simply searching for a better life elsewhere.
Sweden also gained international scrutiny after U.S. President Donald Trump portrayed the country as place where multiculturalism has brought crime and insecurity.
In early 2017, Trump claimed that a terrorist attack had happened the previous night in Sweden. The night, in fact, had been quiet, but Trump had seen a Fox News report about crime by immigrants in Sweden. He has insisted that he is still right about the general picture of the country as one where large-scale migration has brought security threats.
That narrative of Sweden as a failed multicultural experiment is also pushed by some on the right in Europe. While some Swedes say there is some truth to that, others feel it is too exaggerated and ignores the fact that Sweden is a place with a strong economy where many things work very well.
Both the left-leaning bloc led by the Social Democrats and the centre-right bloc, in which the Moderates is the largest of four parties, have said they would refuse to consider the Sweden Democrats as a coalition partner.
Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, who brought the Social Democrats to power in 2014, said he intended to remain in the job. His party emerged with the greatest share of the vote _ 28.4 per cent as the count neared completion _ yet is looking at holding fewer seats in parliament than four years ago.
Lofven told his supporters the election presented ``a situation that all responsible parties must deal with,'' adding that ``a party with roots in Nazism'' would ``never ever offer anything responsible but hatred.''
``We have a moral responsibility. We must gather all forces for good. We won't mourn, we will organize ourselves,'' he said.
Associated Press writers Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, Frank Jordans in Berlin and Vanessa Gera in Warsaw, Poland, contributed.
The Canadian Press. All rights are reserved.
Exit Poll Has Swedish Ruling Party Leading
An exit poll is projecting that nearly one in five Swedish voters backed an anti-immigrant party with white supremacist roots in the Scandinavian country's election.
However, Swedish broadcaster SVT said its poll from Sunday's election indicates that the centre-left Social Democrats governing Sweden now would remain the largest party in parliament.
The poll projects that the ruling party received 26.2 per cent of the vote.
If the exit poll results carry over to the official count, the far right Sweden Democrats would be the second-largest party in parliament. The poll gave the party 19.2 per cent of the vote.
Swedish media are reporting that voters and journalists were harassed at several polling places by members of a neo-Nazi movement, including some running in the parliamentary election.
The Svenska Dagbladet newspaper said the Nordic Resistance Movement members entered voting stations and attempted to take photos of voters, voting slips and journalists.
The newspaper says such incidents have caused anxiety at balloting locations in Boden, Ludvika and Kungalv.
Svenska Dagbladet also reported that the far-right Alternative for Sweden party raised alleged election breaches by ``shouting loud'' on social media as soon as polls opened on Sunday.
Separately, Swedish tabloid Expressen interviewed a representative of the right-wing Sweden Democrats. Emilia Orpana said she and another party supporter were threatened by two young men who called them ``damned racists.''
Voters in Sweden appear to be split in an unpredictable general election that may turn into one of the most thrilling races in the Scandinavian country's history for decades amid heated debate on immigration.
Latest opinion polls suggest the ruling Social Democrats led by Prime Minister Stefan Lofven would substantially lose seats at the Parliament but would still win ahead of the far-right and anti-immigration Sweden Democrats the popularity of which has steadily risen since the 2014 election.
Its strong rhetoric has shocked many Swedes. Voter Veronica Lundqvist said the party led by Jimmie Akesson is saying ``awful things'' about migrants, while Karl Ljung said Sweden has an ``integration issue'' with migrants that needs solving.
Sunday's vote is first since the nation of 10 million accepted 163,000 migrants in 2015. While far less than what Germany took in that year, it was the most per capita of any European nation.
Polls have opened in Sweden's general election in what is expected to be one of the most unpredictable and thrilling races in the Scandinavian country for decades amid heated debate on immigration.
Sunday's election will be Sweden's first since the government in 2015 allowed 163,000 migrants into the country of 10 million. While far less than what Germany took in that year, it was the most per capita of any European nation. It's highly unlikely that any single party will get a majority, or 175 seats.
The latest opinion poll suggests that Prime Minister Stefan Lofven's ruling Social Democrats will substantially lose seats but still emerge a winner with an estimated 24.9 per cent of the votes.
The polls showed far-right, anti-immigration Sweden Democrats would get 19.1 per cent of the votes.