Immigration to be the decisive issue in deadlocked Swedish general election

Immigration to be the decisive issue in deadlocked Swedish general election

Today Swedes vote in a general election set to boost both centre and far-right representation in the country’s parliament. Prime

FILE PHOTO: Stefan Lofven, Swedish PM and leader of the Social Democrats, campaigns ahead of the Swedish general election in Uppsala

Photo: Reuters/Nils Petter Nilsson

Today Swedes vote in a general election set to boost both centre and far-right representation in the country’s parliament. Prime Minister Stefan Lofven’s centre-left coalition faces difficult re-election prospects.

An uptick in support for the far-right Sweden Democrats has been linked to widespread voter discontent about Sweden’s historically liberal stance on immigration, as well as the state of the welfare system, with costs rising due to an ageing population and support for migrant arrivals. With a rise in voter support to roughly 18% against 40% for the incumbent centre-left Social Democrats and Green Party coalition, the Sweden Democrats will be a decisive force in the country’s next parliament. Their opposition to immigration and Sweden’s EU membership continues a continent-wide far-right populist trend, coming as Sweden’s migrant intake levels rose from 81,000 in 2014 to over 150,000 following the 2015 crisis.

Similar to other European far-right parties, the Sweden Democrats have neo-Nazi roots; both mainstream Swedish parties have therefore ruled out a coalition with them. Yet, the surge in far-right support means a right-wing coalition would require the Sweden Democrats’ support. The only viable alternative may be a ‘grand-coalition’ of mainstream parties. Either way, expect major revisions to immigration laws.

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