June 18, 2024

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Swedes head to the polls in close elections

Swedes head to the polls in close elections

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  • Social Democrat Prime Minister Anderson faces right-wing opposition
  • Kristerson’s moderate alliance with the Swedish Democrats
  • Campaigns focus on crime and the cost of living crisis
  • Opinion polls show that the conglomerates are choppy
  • Polls close at 1800 GMT

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Swedes voted on Sunday in an election that pitted the current center-left Social Democrats against a right-wing bloc that has embraced the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats in a bid to regain power after eight years in opposition. .

With rising numbers of shootings alarming voters, election campaigns have seen an inter-party battle to be the toughest on gang crime, while rising inflation and an energy crisis in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine increasingly take center stage.

“I am very afraid that a very right-wing repressive government is coming in,” said Malin Erickson, 53, a travel consultant outside a polling station in central Stockholm.

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Opinion polls show the center-left converging with the right-wing bloc, with the Swedish Democrats appearing to have recently overtaken the Moderates as the second largest party after the Social Democrats. Read more

Pediatrician Eric George, 52, said he believed the campaign was marked by rising populism.

“I think times are really turbulent and it’s hard for people to know what’s going on,” he said outside the polling station.

While law and order is home to the right, gathering in the clouds of an economic storm as households and businesses face sky-high energy prices may bolster Democratic Socialist Prime Minister Magdalena Anderson, who is seen as a safer and more popular pair than her party. Read more

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“My clear message is: During the pandemic, we have supported Swedish businesses and families. And I will act in exactly the same way again if I have your renewed confidence,” she said this week in one of the last discussions before the vote.

Andersen was finance minister for many years before becoming Sweden’s first female prime minister a year ago. Its main rival is moderates leader Ulf Christerson, who sees himself as the only one capable of uniting and displacing the Right.

Christerson has spent years deepening ties with the Swedish Democrats, an anti-immigration party whose white supremacists include. Initially shunned by all other parties, the Swedish Democrats are now increasingly part of the right-wing mainstream. Read more

“We will prioritize law and order, making it profitable to work and build new climate-smart nuclear power,” Christerson said in a video posted by his party. Simply put, we want to sort Sweden.

For many center-left voters – and even some on the right – the prospect that the Swedish Democrats led by Jimmy Akesson will have a say in government policy or join the Cabinet remains deeply troubling.

Christerson wants to form a government with the young Christian Democrats, and possibly the Liberals, relying solely on the support of Sweden’s Democrats in Parliament. But these are assertions that the center-left does not take on the face of it.

Uncertainty looms over the elections, as the two blocs face long and arduous negotiations to form a government in a polarized and emotionally charged political landscape.

Anderson will need to get support from the Center and the Left, which are ideologically opposites, and possibly from the Greens as well, if she wants a second term as prime minister.

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“I have very few red lines,” Annie Loew, whose Center Party split from Kristerson over his embrace of the Swedish Democrats, said in a recent interview with SVT.

“One of my red lines is that I will not let any government give influence to the Swedish Democrats.”

Voting closes at 1800 GMT with a preliminary official result expected around 2100 GMT.

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Additional reporting by Janis Layzans, Isabella Ronca, Terry Solsvik and Anna Ringstrom; Editing by William Maclean and Elaine Hardcastle

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.