Sweden prepares to crack down on migrants

Sweden prepares to crack down on migrants

Sweden prepares to crack down on migrants

The center-left party had long dominated Swedish political life, leading coalition governments for the vast majority of the 20th century and the early 21st.

That could prove fatal for the Alliance, with the Liberal and Centre parties repeatedly ruling out a deal with "the devil", as Akesson occasionally calls himself.

However, others say the Sweden Democrats are trying to fix a historical problem.

The results show Sunday's vote was one of the toughest challenges in decades to Sweden's social democracy, characterized by its high tax rates and substantial welfare system, aimed at reducing inequality through social inclusion.

"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. His party emerged with the greatest share of the vote - 28.4 percent as the count neared completion - yet looking at holding fewer parliament seats than four years ago.

Reuters reports that following the result, Sweden Democrats leader Jimmie Akesson told party colleagues: "We will gain huge influence over what happens in Sweden during the coming weeks, months and years".

Around 7.5 million Swedes were eligible to cast a ballot in the vote, with final results expected to be announced before midnight (22:00 GMT).

With neither main bloc able to command a majority, the Sweden Democrats - who want the country to leave the European Union and put a freeze on immigration - could play a decisive role in negotiations over forming a government. That might explain why the Sweden Democrats didn't perform as well as predicted. And as the complicated, likely drawn-out process of building a government begins, they're the bloc standing in each coalition's way of reaching a majority.

The Sweden Democrats took 17.6 percent of the vote, only slightly behind the establishment "centre-right" Moderate Party, who slipped to 19.8 percent.

The Sweden Democrats rise comes after widespread discontent over immigration, particularly the massive influx of refugees which started in 2015.

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A possible future centre-right government has promised to make the labour market more flexible by letting SMEs make more exceptions from the first-in-last-out principle of Swedish labour legislation.

Sweden has become accustomed to coalition governments and no one was expecting an outright winning party in this election.

The Sweden Democrats - led by Jimmie Akesson - has worked to soften its neo-Nazi image while helping to break down longstanding taboos on what Swedes could say openly about immigration and integration without being shunned as racists.

With an eye on the European Parliament elections next year, Brussels policymakers are watching the Swedish vote closely, concerned that a nation with impeccable democratic credentials could add to the growing chorus of euroscepticism in the EU. The government's finance minister suggested refugees seek another country in which to claim asylum, while Prime Minister Stefan Löfven announced that the country would crack down on criminals, and the party declared that emergency border security laws from the height of the refugee crisis would be kept in place indefinitely.

"It's not that they are shy voters, but that they are distrustful of the polling agencies", said Henrik Ekengren Oscarsson, a professor in political science at Gothenburg University.

But as Savage notes, that's not the case this year, in an unpredictable election where much of the vote has hinged on voter attitudes on the issue of immigration.

Many voters are also concerned about violence.

A new election will be called if parliament doesn't agree on a prime minister after four attempts.

"He said he was interested in cooperating with the other parties, and wanted to tell the Moderates in particular 'how to govern the country".

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