The result of Sweden’s elections now spells uncertainty for the country; a new government is unlikely to form for weeks.
Sweden’s two main blocs - the governing centre-left coalition and the centre-right alliance - both won around 40 per cent of the vote.
Meanwhile, the Swedish Democrats (SD), the far-right, anti-immigration party, won around 18 per cent of the vote, up from 12.9 per cent in the previous election.
The parties are now set to enter drawn out, strained coalition talks.
The SD, which has neo-Nazi roots, entered the Swedish Parliament in 2010. There are now concerns over the influence the party could have on policymaking.
The election is likely to add to concerns about the possible make-up of the European Parliament after next May’s EU-wide elections.
It is feared the poll could give more voice to Eurosceptic groups and thwart efforts at closer EU integration.
Migration was one of the key issues in the run up to the election. In Sweden, an influx of 163,000 asylum seekers in 2015 - the most in Europe in relation to the country’s population of 10 million - has polarised voters and fractured the long-standing political consensus.
During a heated debate among party leaders on Friday, the Sweden Democrats’ Jimmie Akesson blamed migrants for the difficulties they often face in finding employment and for not adjusting to Swedish life.
Reacting to the election result, Parliament’s S&D group leader, Udo Bullmann, said, “Social democracy in Sweden has resisted the threat of the far right. I warmly congratulate Stefan Löfven for a brave and tough campaign, and a victory.”
However, he cautioned, “This being said, the results of the extreme right are a serious warning in a country known for its most advanced social system.
“As in Italy, Austria, Hungary, the far-right in Sweden has shown its true face in a campaign of hatred, xenophobia and fake news; all clear ingredients of neo-Nazism.
“No country should be blamed for opening its doors to people fleeing war. Swedish authorities have clearly illustrated the necessity of migration for the country’s economy, with just short of 100,000 jobs that cannot be filled by Swedes.
“Nationalism is not the answer to the migration issue. The only sustainable answer is a European one. All real democrats in the EU must work together towards a fair and lasting solution, honestly sharing responsibilities.
“To succeed, we need the support of all democratic forces. The conservatives of the European People’s Party are at a crossroads. They need to show whether they stand on the side of the core European values of democracy, solidarity and responsibility, or if they join the dark forces of the extreme right.”
The Greens are a junior government party in Sweden but barely passed the four per cent threshold needed to stay in Parliament.
Commenting on the outcome, European Green Party co-Chairs Monica Frassoni and Reinhard Bütikofer, a German MEP, said, “As part of a red-green coalition for the past four years, the Swedish
Greens have put climate at the heart of their agenda. They succeeded in enshrining Europe’s most ambitious national climate goals into law, introducing an eco-friendly aviation tax, and doubling the budget for climate policy. Their campaign slogan was: The climate can’t wait.”
Their joint statement added, “In an adverse political environment, which was dominated by a national debate on immigration tinged by racism, and after having polled close to the parliamentary threshhold for some time, Miljöpartiet lost votes, but managed to retain the parliamentary status.
“We congratulate their 15 elected MPs and will support them as best we can in their efforts to gain new strength. Together with them, we are already looking forward to the European elections of 2019.”