Sweden’s Leader Resigns After Elections Show First-Ever Right-Wing Populist Win

The Swedish prime minister tendered her resignation Wednesday after preliminary election results showed a historic win for the self-described populist Sweden Democrats’ coalition.

The right-leaning coalition, led by the conservative Moderates, appears to have snagged a razor-thin lead over the governing Social Democrats since Sunday’s elections, but the results remain too close to call, according to Deutsche Welle. Nevertheless, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson conceded victory to the Sweden Democrats after 99% of the votes had been counted, marking the first time a right-wing populist party will participate in forming a government.

Jimmie Akesson, leader of the Sweden Democrats, promised to “put Sweden first” in a declaration of victory, according to DW.

The likely winning coalition consists of the Moderates, Sweden Democrats, Christian Democrats and Liberals, according to DW. Ulf Kristersson, head of the Moderates, stands to become Sweden’s next prime minister.

“I will now start the work of forming a new government that can get things done, a government for all of Sweden and all citizens,” Kristersson said.

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So far, the right-leaning opposition government has 176 seats in the 349-seat parliament, just three more those held by the governing Social Democrat coalition, according to DW. A final winner will be declared once the remaining 1% of ballots, mostly postal and overseas votes, come in.

The Social Democrats have dominated the Swedish government since the 1930s and remained the party with the single largest majority, according to polling data from Politico. However, the Sweden Democrats surged to a majority within the opposition coalition for the first time, pulling enough votes to give the coalition the slimmest of leads.

Rising crime and skyrocketing energy prices contributed to the popularity of the Sweden Democrats, according to AFP. The country has vastly more firearm-related deaths compared to the European average and seen a sharp rise in bomb threats and gang violence.

“Inflation has soared and the same is true for crime and shootings, and these are contextual factors that should benefit the right-wing opposition,” Patrik Ohberg, a University of Gothenburg political scientist, told AFP.

The Sweden Democrats have advocated for tighter limitations on immigration, cracking down on crime and lowering the cost of living for the working class. Party members have argued that an influx of Muslim immigrants to Sweden is correlated with increasing sex offense cases and other forms of crime, and have said that Islam is not compatible with Swedish values.

The party grew out of a neo-Nazi movement in the 1980’s, although it has renounced the extreme ideology and sought to reform its stances and image, according to Georgetown University’s Bridge.

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