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A narrow lead for Swedish ruling centre-left coalition: general election exit polls

Voting in the Swedish general elections concluded at 8 pm local time (6 pm GMT). Exit polls indicate a victory of the current ruling left and centre-left coalition, but the lead is merely 0.6 per cent ahead of the right and centre-right opposition.

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The left, led by Social Democratic Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson’s, received 49.8 per cent of the vote according to the exit poll conducted by Sweden’s public broadcaster. But the opposing bloc made up of centre-right and right-wing parties is trailing the left with 49.2 per cent, just 0.6 per cent less.

If the results stay this way, the left, which has been in power for eight years, will continue ruling, although it will be in a very tight spot. Seat projections indicate the left would gain 176 MPs. To win a majority in the 349-seat Riksdag, 175 MPs are needed. The seat projection gives the right 173 MPs.

“The SVT exit poll has been right every time they since they began doing them,” said Mikael Gilljam, Professor of Political Science at Gothenburg University. “We don’t know if this is the case this time. But if I have to put money on someone, it will be on the left.”

The campaign focused heavily on rising crime rates, but the high inflation rates and the energy crisis following the invasion of Ukraine came to dominate in more recent weeks.

Particularly the crime rates and gang violence explain the success of Jimmie Åkesson’s Sweden Democrats, who according to exit polls gained 20.5 per cent of the vote, compared to 17.5 percent in 2018. This means that the SD, which strongly advocates for a radical reduction of immigration, including asylum immigration, would overtake the Moderates as the largest party on the right and centre-right of the Swedish political stage, and would become the second-largest party in the Riksdag.

The Sweden Democrats have been steadily gaining more ground since they first passed the 4 percent electoral threshold in 2010 when they won 5.7 percent of the vote. Citing the anti-immigrant stance of the party and murky past of some of the radical founders of the party, who had connections to nationalist groups, the SD has for over a decade served as a bogeyman to galvanise left and centre voters. But the party has slowly evolved into a more mainstream formation and the 2016 migrant crisis which put a lot of strain on services and the budget, coupled with increased gang violence, made for the perfect ground to boost the popularity of the party that promises to reduce immigration and be tough on crime.

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