No one really won Sweden's general election and people are utterly confused

Sweden election

For those predicting a decisive right-wing triumph, the ultimate result didn't quite live up to the hype.

With most votes counted the biggest party (on 28 per cent) is still the ruling centre-left Social Democrats, the oldest and biggest party in Sweden, bleeding from the elderly working class part of its base but still a power.

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

The Moderates party was next at 19.2 percent, while the far-right Sweden Democrats that before the election inspired fear of an anti-migrant backlash that would produce a dramatic ideological swing had 17.9 percent.

The far-right Sweden Democrats had at times during the campaign appeared to have a shot at becoming the biggest party in the country, but in the end they placed third, capturing 18 percent of initial tallies of the vote.

Leader Jimmie Akesson said they were the "real winners" of the election and that the party would now have influence over Swedish politics, with a meeting with centre-right bloc leader Ulf Kristersson due on Monday.

The Sweden Democrats want to slam the door to new arrivals, pull out of the European Union and significantly increase the rate of deportations.

Turnout in the election was reported at 84.4%, up from 83% in 2014. In 2010, the year it first entered parliament, it won only 5.7 percent of the vote. "So we really have to solve it now".

Still, the Swedish election underscored a broader shift to the right in one of Europe's most socially progressive nations.

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Akesson was adamant his party holds the balance of power. An exit poll showed that nearly a fifth of the far-right voters cast their ballots for the Social Democrats the last election.

The center-right Moderates have become especially tough on immigration, echoing numerous positions of the Sweden Democrats. Before the recent refugee crisis, which brought almost 200,000 asylum-seekers to Sweden in 2015 and 2016 alone (the highest per capita number of refugees in Europe), Sweden's other parties had largely agreed on a liberal immigration policy.

He said his party had "won" the elections because of its gain in seats. For a start, we should say that the result is not yet in. And this wasn't just campaign speak.

Sweden faced political deadlock on Monday after the far-right made gains in legislative elections whose result makes it tough to form a functioning government. That doesn't mean that mainstream media outlets should always attach the qualifier "with neo-Nazi roots" every time they mention the party. What I can exclude is any direct or indirect cooperation with the Sweden Democrats, " Interior Minister Anders Ygeman, a Social Democrat said. "[The Social Democrats] had been seen as too polite, too open, and too much embracing of globalization and migration". Also, a 2014 accord to neutralize the Sweden Democrats and let the biggest bloc rule proved deeply unpopular among center-right grassroot members and rapidly unraveled.

In an interview with NPR's Michel Martin, reporter Maddy Savage says that among the eight parties gunning for seats in parliament, there's historically "a sense of left or a sense of right bloc that's able to form a coalition".

The other of the two blocs that have defined Swedish politics for a decade, the four-party center-right Alliance coalition, trailed close behind on 38.5 percent.

He has one problem: neither side want to openly deal with him. They'll "have to face the facts", Andersson said.

Given this backdrop, Dr Wellings said he was actually surprised the Sweden Democrats did not capture even more of the vote. "The Sweden Democrats, they've divided people up into us and them".

Since 2015, the center-left government has sharply restricted immigration, but many Swedes complain that society can not cope with integrating so many newcomers, many of them Muslims from Africa and the Middle East. "And that scares me because, what's the next thing?"

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