Voters in Sweden appear split amid immigration debate

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The flower replaced a flamethrower as the party looked to soften its image.

Instead, Sunday's results effectively provided no clear victor and no convenient or simple narrative to explain the shifts underway in Swedish politics.

The Sweden Democrats, founded by white supremacists, rose to 17.8pc from 12.9pc in the last election four years ago, in effect securing the balance of power.

As expected, neither the center-left nor the center-right bloc obtained a majority, and the far-right Sweden Democrats solidified their position as the country's third-biggest party, albeit with a lower score than they had expected.

Either some form of cooperation between the center-left and Alliance or an accommodation with the Sweden Democrats is likely to be necessary.

Both the left-leaning bloc led by the Social Democrats and the centre-right bloc have said they would refuse to consider the Sweden Democrats as a potential coalition partner.

It said turnout stood at 84.4 percent, up one percentage point from the 2014 elections.

In Sweden, to enter Parliament, a party has to pass the 4-percent threshold.

Over 99 percent of the votes have been counted, but one question remains unanswered after the Swedish election.

Sweden is heading for a hung parliament after its latest election, which saw a surge in support for right-wing party Sweden Democrats. "So we really have to solve it now".

Supporters attend the Social Democratic Party's election night party in Stockholm Sweden Sunday Sept. 9 2018. A preliminary count from Sweden's general election showed an anti-immigrant party with a neo Nazi past placing third and the ruling
Voters in Sweden appear split amid immigration debate

Far-right parties have made big gains throughout Europe in recent years after a refugee crisis sparked by civil war in Syria and continuing conflicts in Afghanistan and parts of Africa.

Akesson was adamant his party holds the balance of power. So far, he has been rebuffed, but depending on the final vote count, there may be some give, especially since at the local level nearly all parties have already been working together with the Sweden Democrats for some time.

The rise of the SD has been the main focus of coverage of the 2018 Sweden Election, with the worldwide press writing the party's popularity into the narrative of the rise of anti-immigration populist parties in Europe.

It would have to either make policy concessions in exchange for the Sweden Democrats' backing or offer key positions on parliamentary committees that draft legislation.

He said his party had "won" the elections because of its gain in seats. "We won't mourn, we will organize ourselves", he said. And this wasn't just campaign speak. But since neither of the established political blocks are willing to form a government reliant on the support of The Sweden Democrats, the election is without a clear result. That doesn't mean that mainstream media outlets should always attach the qualifier "with neo-Nazi roots" every time they mention the party. But thanks to the Sweden Democrats, it became a question that couldn't go unanswered, Johan Hassel, the Social Democrats' global secretary, said after the vote. It was formed in 2004 to counter decades of dominance by the Social Democrats. 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.

The four-party Alliance - made up of the conservative Moderates, Christian Democrats, Liberals and Center - rejected Lofven's invite, urging him to resign as it reiterated its determination to form its own government.

A preliminary allocation of parliamentary seats gave the centre-left bloc - uniting the minority governing Social Democrat and Green parties with the Left Party - 144 seats versus 143 for the centre-right Alliance bloc.

"We need a cross-bloc cooperation", he told party supporters on Sunday evening. They'll "have to face the facts", Andersson said. "The Sweden Democrats, they've divided people up into us and them". Immigration was, for a long time, a taboo subject for the major parties; now it's not only acceptable, but some politicians even talk about deporting immigrants.

He sparked an outcry during a televised debate on Friday when he said foreigners had more difficulty finding jobs "because they're not Swedes".