A far-right party in Sweden has become the second largest in parliament after an election that is still very close to being called.
The Swedish Democrats, a group with neo-Nazi roots, have profited from the country’s shift to the right, which has left him and his allies on the brink of seizing power.
With 94 percent of votes counted in Sunday’s election, the right-wing bloc has a narrow advantage over its centre-left opponents.
As of early Monday, projections suggested that Moderates, Swedish Democrats, Christian Democrats and Liberals would win 176 of the country’s 349 seats, beating the ruling Social Democrat-led group, which is expected to fall short of 173.
However, all that could still change, with the Swedish election commission saying the final results wouldn’t be known until Wednesday at the earliest.
“It’s incredibly close. It’s basically a 50-50 draw for both sides. So we don’t know at the moment,” warned Zeth Isaksson, a sociologist at Stockholm University.
Social Democrat Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson has not resigned, insisting the dispute is still at stake.
However, the rise in popularity of anti-immigrant Swedish Democrats is impressive in a country that prides itself on moderation. They will likely end up with 21% of the vote, behind 30.5% for Social Democrats but ahead of 19% for center-right moderates.
The Swedish Democrats have tried to distance themselves from their extremist beginnings, saying it is “something different from what was founded about 30 years ago”.
But Jimmie Akesson’s party has maintained its staunch opposition to Swedish immigration policy. He almost vowed to crack down on gang violence after a series of deadly shootings.
On Sunday, travel consultant Malin Ericsson, 53, expressed concern about a possible government, including the Swedish Democrats: “I’m fearing the arrival of a very repressive and far-right government.”
Meanwhile, small business owner Jorgen Hellstrom, 47, said he would welcome a change. “Taxes need to come down a little bit and we need to stop crime. The last eight years have gone in the wrong direction,” he said.
If the right-wing bloc takes power, moderate leader Ulf Kristersson is expected to become prime minister.
“We don’t know what the outcome will be,” he said after the polls closed. “But I am ready to do everything possible to form a new, stable and vigorous government for all of Sweden and all its citizens.”