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Anti-Immigration Party Set for Gains as Sweden Swings Right

Ulf Kristersson, leader of the Moderate Party and Stefan Lofven, leader of the Social Democratic Party during a party duel broadcast by Sweden's tv-channel TV4 from Linkoping, Sweden Sept. 8, 2018. PHOTO: TT News Agency/Anders Wiklund/Reuters

By Simon Johnson | 8 September 2018

REUTERS — Swedes vote on Sunday in a tight election dominated by fears over asylum and welfare, with the populist, anti-immigration Sweden Democrats vying to become the biggest party in a country long seen as a bastion of economic stability and liberal values.

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

In Sweden, the influx of 163,000 asylum seekers in 2015 has polarized voters, fractured the cozy political consensus and could give the Sweden Democrats, a party with roots in the neo-Nazi fringe, a veto over which parties form the next government.

“Traditional parties have failed to respond to the sense of discontent that exists,” Magnus Blomgren, a social scientist at Umea University.

“That discontent maybe isn’t directly related to unemployment or the economy, but simply a loss of faith in the political system. Sweden isn’t alone in this.” […]

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