Sweden sees a newly hung parliament

 
City A.M. Reporter
SWEDEN’S centre-right government has won re-election but lost its overall majority in parliament after an anti-immigrant party earned its first ever seats in yesterday’s election, preliminary results showed last night.

Official preliminary results showed the centre-right coalition government won 173 seats in the 349-seat parliament and the Social Democrat-led centre-left won 156 seats.

Reinfeldt, who has benefited from one of Europe’s strongest economic recoveries and sound public finances, would be the first sitting centre-right leader ever to win re-election in Sweden. The Social Democrats, architects of Sweden’s welfare model, ruled for much of the last century.

Analysts had said before the vote that a hung parliament, with Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt having no overall majority, would unsettle investors, but the Swedish crown firmed slightly after the results.

Reinfeldt has said he is prepared to lead a minority government but could also approach the opposition Green Party for support.

However, the big news of the night for a country which has long prided itself as being one of the most tolerant in Europe was that the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats looked set to win 20 seats.

“If this outcome stands we will have a scenario that most Swedish voters wanted to avoid, that is that we have a xenophobic party holding the balance of power,” said Ulf Bjereld, a political scientist at Gothenburg University.

The rise in support for the Sweden Democrats has followed a move away from the party’s skinhead roots and matches developments in other European countries.

The Sweden Democrats deny they are racist but both main blocs have ruled out cooperating with them.

“Today we have written political history together,” said Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Akesson.

The centre-left opposition focused its campaign on people who have suffered welfare reforms under the Alliance of Reinfeldt’s Moderate Party, the Liberals, Centre and Christian Democrats.