Sweden's election results: The view from across Europe

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"This government we have had now. they have prioritized, during these four years, asylum-seekers", Akesson said, giving an exhaustive list of things he says the government has failed to do for Swedish society because of migrants. The two largest catch-all parties, the Social Democrats and the Conservatives, kept shrinking and the right-wing populists, the Sweden Democrats, kept growing. So far, he has been rebuffed, but depending on the final vote count, there may be some give, especially since at the local level nearly all parties have already been working together with the Sweden Democrats for some time.

Gains for the far-right are being blamed on voter fears of mass immigration. Under the current leader, Jimmie Akesson, who took over in 2005, the party insists it has no tolerance for racist or xenophobic rhetoric and routinely kicks out members discovered to be espousing openly racist sentiments (which, to be fair, still happens quite often).

The SD, widely tipped to make gains in the election, won about 18 percent support, jumping almost five percentage points since the last elections four years ago. Although both major parties have ruled out formally ruling with the Sweden Democrats in a coalition, the center-right Moderates have said they would not reject support in areas where the parties' positions coincide.

However, Stefan Lofven, the Swedish prime minister, will have heaved a sigh of relief at the disappointing result for the nationalist Sweden Democrats, .

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With neither main bloc able to command a majority, the Sweden Democrats - who want the country to leave the European Union and put a freeze on immigration - could play a decisive role in negotiations over forming a government. But as the issue continued to gain relevance, the Sweden Democrats' position gained traction. "We don't know who will form the next government, we will probably not know tomorrow, next week or next month", Wolodarski told Al Jazeera.

Ahead of the election, promising prospects for the Sweden Democrats had many Swedes anxious about an erosion of the humanitarian values that have always been a foundation of their country's identity.

"The Alliance will not govern or discuss how to form a government with the Sweden Democrats", he said. It received a little more than one in six votes, or 17.6 per cent.

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. That raised questions whether the parties might find a way for the far-right party to vote with the Moderates at least part of the time and helping to install a center-right leader in the prime minister's office. Both parties are joined by a number of smaller fringe parties in forming their respective coalition blocs.

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"It's not that they are shy voters, but that they are distrustful of the polling agencies", said Henrik Ekengren Oscarsson, a professor in political science at Gothenburg University.

In an interview with AFP during the campaign, Akesson stressed he would "lay down his terms" after the election, citing immigration policy, crime-fighting and health care as priorities.

The coalition blocs that each party leads were neck-and-neck with each other, leaving the ultimate result in doubt and raising the possibility the center-right group might seek to seize power with support from the Sweden Democrats. Voters on Sunday did not doubt the Nordic welfare model, but many hesitate to let more immigrants without similar cultural traits share the system.

"If nobody is talking about stuff that people see as problems, the only answers and understanding that they're going to have are the ones offered by the populist parties". Nevertheless, prime minister Stefan Löfven did not resign on election night, citing the need for stability.

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