Populist leader claims Sweden election win

·2-min read

Sweden's Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson has conceded defeat in a weekend election while the leader of a nationalist anti-immigration party declared victory for his conservative bloc.

Jimmie Akesson, leader of the populist Sweden Democrats, said his party would be "a constructive and driving force in this work" of rebuilding safety in Sweden.

He said it was "time to put Sweden first".

With almost all votes counted, the conservative bloc of four parties that includes the Sweden Democrats - the country's second-largest party - appeared to have won a thin majority in parliament.

Although a few votes were outstanding they were not enough to sway the final outcome.

Prime Minister Andersson said that the "the preliminary result is clear enough to draw a conclusion" that her centre-left forces had lost power.

Andersson became Sweden's first female prime minister last year and led the country in its historic bid to join the NATO military alliance following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The Sweden Democrats party was long shunned by Swedes because of its roots in the neo-Nazi movement.

In recent years it has moved into the mainstream by expelling extremists and gained support with a tough stance on crime and immigration amid a rise in shootings and other gang violence.

The result leaves the conservative bloc with 176 seats in the 349-parliament, the Riksdag, and Andersson's centre-left bloc with 173 seats.

"The four right-wing parties appear to have received just under 50 per cent of the votes in the election, and in the Riksdag, they have gained one or two mandates. A thin majority but it is a majority," Andersson said.

"Tomorrow I will therefore request my dismissal as prime minister and the responsibility for the continued process will now pass to the parliament Speaker and the Riksdag."