Mainstream center-left and center-right parties are in the lead in Sweden’s election which held on Sunday but a hung parliament looms as the far-right made gains by five percent more votes than four years ago.
With nearly all votes counted on Monday, the ruling center-left Social Democrats and Greens and their Left Party parliamentary ally had 40.6 percent of the vote, while the opposition center-right Alliance was on 40.3 percent.
The Sweden Democrats, a party with white supremacist roots, came third with 17.6 percent.
The result was largely in line with the conventional opinion polls but below the 20 percent or more figure that some surveys had predicted.
But while there was a sense of relief among supporters of mainstream parties about the nationalist group’s more limited than expected gains, the election underscored a broader shift to the right in one of Europe’s most socially progressive nations.
Their success follow a rise in popularity for other far-right parties in Europe amid growing anxiety over national identity, the effects of globalization and fears over immigration boosted partly by conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa.
Senior figures in the mainstream parties are expected to meet later on Monday to begin producing a strategy for forming a government. But the Sweden Democrats have vowed to sink any cabinet that doesn’t give them a say in policy.
“We will gain huge influence over what happens in Sweden during the coming weeks, months and years,” party leader Jimmie Akesson told supporters on Sunday night.