Swedes go to the polls in a close election marred by crime and the energy crisis

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  • Social Democrat Prime Minister Andersson faces right-wing opposition
  • Kristersson of the Moderates has allied himself with the Sweden Democrats
  • Campaigns focus on crime, cost of living crisis
  • Opinion polls show a neck-and-neck race between blocks
  • Polling stations close at 1800 GMT

STOCKHOLM, Sept 11 (Reuters) – Swedes will vote in an election on Sunday that will pit the incumbent centre-left Social Democrats against a right-wing bloc that has embraced the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats for power after eight years in opposition to win back .

With an ever-growing number of shootings unsettling voters, campaign parties have struggled to be the toughest to crack down on gang crime, while rising inflation and the energy crisis following the invasion of Ukraine have come under increasing focus.

Law and order is a home game for the right, but economic storm clouds gathering as homes and businesses face sky-high electricity prices could give a boost to Social Democrat Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, who is seen as a safe pair of hands and more popular than her own party. Continue reading

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“My clear message is: During the pandemic we have supported Swedish companies and households. I will do the same thing again if I get your renewed confidence,” she said in one of the final debates before the vote this week.

Andersson was finance minister for many years before becoming Sweden’s first female prime minister a year ago. Her biggest rival is the leader of the moderates, Ulf Kristersson, who sees himself as the only one who can unite the right and overthrow it.

Kristersson has spent years deepening ties with the Sweden Democrats, an anti-immigration party with white supremacists among its founders. Initially shunned by all other parties, the Sweden Democrats are now increasingly centered on the right. Continue reading

“We will prioritize law and order to make working and building new climate-friendly nuclear power plants profitable,” Kristersson said in a video released by his party. “Put simply, we want to sort out Sweden.”

Opinion polls show that the centre-left party is neck and neck with the right-wing bloc, where the Sweden Democrats appear to have recently overtaken the Moderates as the second strongest party behind the Social Democrats. Continue reading

For many centre-left voters – and even some on the right – the prospect of Jimmie Akesson’s Sweden Democrats having a say in government policy or joining the cabinet remains deeply troubling, and the election is being viewed in part as a referendum on whether to give them This power.

Kristersson wants to form a government with the small Christian Democrats and possibly the Liberals, relying only on the support of the Sweden Democrats in parliament. But these are assurances that the centre-left party does not take at face value.

There is great uncertainty in the election as both blocs face long and tough negotiations to form a government in a polarized and emotionally charged political landscape.

Andersson will need support from the Center Party and the Left, which are ideologically opposed, and likely from the Green Party as well if she wants a second term as Prime Minister.

“I have quite a few red lines,” said Annie Loof, whose Center Party split from Kristersson over his embrace of the Sweden Democrats, in a recent SVT interview.

“One red line I have is that I will never let a government that gives influence to the Sweden Democrats through.”

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Additional reporting by Terje Solsvik and Anna Ringstrom, editing by William Maclean

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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