Sweden’s left-wing coalition in slight lead, exit polls show

Sweden’s ruling left-wing Social Democrats won the most votes in the country’s general election Sunday, while a right-wing populist party had its best showing yet, exit polls showed.

The eight parties running to win seats in the 349-seat Riksdag are divided down the middle, with four conservative parties and four left-wing parties belonging to one of two major blocs.

The Swedish public broadcaster SVT exit poll showed that the left bloc had a slight edge over the right, with 176 seats to 173.

This translates to a parliamentary majority gained by 49.8% of the vote that went to the parties endorsing Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, which should, in theory, be enough for her to remain in power.

The SVT Valu poll also showed that the nationalist anti-immigration Sweden Democrats won 3% more votes than in 2018, with 20.5% making it the second-strongest party in the Swedish parliament after Sunday.

An exit poll by TV4 presented similar results, giving the left-wing block led by Andersson’s centre-left Social Democrats a minor advantage (50.6%), while Sweden Democrats gained nearly 4% of the vote.

The margin of error both polls come with could still see the results change. 

Early voting started on 24 August, and it was possible to vote in Swedish embassies overseas as well. After the first four days of voting, turnout was lower than it had been in previous years. 

However, overall voter turnout tends to be very high in Sweden. At the last election, almost 90% of eligible voters cast their ballots. 

Anderssen became Sweden’s first female prime minister less than a year ago — despite a minority in the parliament — and led the country’s historic bid to join NATO following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

The right-wing Sweden Democrats entered parliament in 2010 and have steadily gained more votes with each election. The party’s fortunes have risen following massive migration in recent years, particularly in Europe’s crisis year of 2015, and as crime has grown in segregated neighbourhoods.

The party has its roots in the white nationalist movement but many years ago began expelling extremists. Despite its rebranding, voters long viewed it as unacceptable, and other parties shunned it — but this seems to be changing.

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