Sweden election result on a knife edge

·2-min read

Sweden's right bloc has inched into the narrowest of leads with abour 90 per cent of votes counted after the country's general election, with results pointing to a new government after eight years of Social Democrat rule.

Early on Monday, figures showed the Moderates, Sweden Democrats, Christian Democrats and Liberals winning 176 seats in the 349-seat parliament against 173 for the centre-left.

In further evidence of a shift to the right, the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats are set to overtake the Moderates as Sweden's second biggest party and the biggest in the opposition - a historic shift in a country that has long prided itself on tolerance and openness.

Nevertheless, Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson is likely to be the right's candidate for prime minister.

"We don't know what the result will be," Kristersson told supporters.

"But I am ready to do all I can to form a new, stable and vigorous government for the whole of Sweden and all its citizens."

With overseas and some postal votes yet to be counted and the margin between the two blocs wafer-thin, results could still change. Social Democrat Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson did not concede defeat on election night on Sunday, saying results were too close to call.

The election authority said a preliminary result would be available at Wednesday at the earliest.

Campaigning had seen parties battle to be the toughest on gang crime, after a steady rise in shootings that has unnerved voters, while surging inflation and the energy crisis following the invasion of Ukraine have increasingly taken centre-stage.

The strong result for the Sweden Democrats fits a pattern of gains for the anti-immigration right wing across Europe where Italy looks poised to elect a conservative bloc including Giorgia Meloni's Brothers of Italy (FdI) and Matteo Salvini's League later this month.

Whichever bloc wins, negotiations to form a government in a polarised and emotionally-charged political landscape are likely to be long and difficult.