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"Do they go back on what they said about refusing any support from the Sweden Democrats, particularly if the Alliance isn't bigger than the left bloc, or do they go back on what they said about trying to remove a Social Democratic prime minister?"

Swedes began voting this morning (Sunday 9) in an election dominated by fears over asylum and welfare, with the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats vying to become the biggest party.

He said: "It feels like Sweden could take a step in this election that we won't be able to recover from very easily".

According to a report released by United Kingdom think tank Demos in August, which looked at the correlation between Swedish immigration and the EU's freedom of movement rules, voters have made a connection between these issues and the numbers of refugees entering the country.

We really need a big change in Sweden, another way of thinking. "Or anywhere else", Sipilä wrote.

Preliminary results had the ruling party receiving 28.4% of the vote, which was estimated to translate into a loss of 13 seats in Sweden's 175-seat parliament, the Riksdagen.

The results show Sunday's vote was one of the toughest challenges in decades to Sweden's social democracy, characterized by its high tax rates and substantial welfare system, aimed at reducing inequality through social inclusion.

Results of yesterday's election saw the Swedish Democrats (SD) take amost 18 percent of the vote - potentially making them kingmakers in the forthcoming government.

But the far-right's success (and in Sweden some traction for the far-left too at this election) points to a much less tangible discontent with politics as we know it.

If the Sweden Democrats win a quarter of the vote, it would be a sensation in a country described as a "humanitarian superpower" in 2014 by the prime minister of the time, the Moderate party's Fredrik Reinfeldt.

The Social Democrats have led a minority government with the Greens since 2014, with the informal support of the ex-communist Left Party to pass legislation.

Sweden, like most of Europe, has been hit by an influx of asylum-seekers, who are fleeing mainly from the Middle East, South Asia and Africa.

"They don't fit in in Sweden and of course then it's hard to find a job".

During a heated debate among party leaders Friday, Akesson caused a stir by blaming migrants for the difficulties they often have in finding employment and not adjusting to Sweden.

Akesson was jubilant as he addressed supporters a day later, declaring the estimated 14 parliament seats the Social Democrats picked up a victory other parties could not ignore in coalition negotiations.

The center-right Moderates have become especially tough on immigration, echoing numerous positions of the Sweden Democrats. However, he told a party rally it was nevertheless the victor of the election.

The Social Democrats and its allies have tried to appease anti-migrant sentiment in the country by urging more integration programs and resources for refugees in marginalized communities, and to help them access education. Emilia Orpana said she and another party supporter were threatened by two young men who called them 'damned racists'.

"We won't participate in letting through a government which doesn't give us influence", Akesson said on local channel TV4. "What will happen to me if they enter government or gain influence", asked Mohammad, an 18-year-old Afghan refugee who spoke flawless Swedish when interviewed by AFP.

The prime minister said the mainstream parties now have a "moral responsibility" to form a government, and keep away from power a party he has previously claimed had "roots in Nazism".

Responding to the call, Mr Lofven said he would continue to "calmly work" in his role over the next two weeks (when parliament opens), but acknowledged the election "should be the funeral for bloc politics".


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