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    Policemen and a group of migrants stand on the platform at the Swedish end of the bridge between Sweden and Denmark in Malmo, Sweden, on November 12, 2015

    Refugee Influx Challenged Capacity of Many Municipalities in Sweden - Scholar

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    It was the worse result for 100 years for the Social Democrat party in Sweden, as they took away 28.4 percent of the vote in what was something of a historic election on Sunday. The Scandinavian nation now faces a period of considerable uncertainty as the two main political parties were both left short of the majority needed to form a government.

    The real winners were of course, the Swedish Democrat party. Running on a Eurosceptic, anti-immigration platform they made huge gains in the election; coming away in third place with 18 percent of the vote. Due to their roots in far-right extremism, the party however is shunned by the mainstream parties, and it could be time for parties from different parts of the political spectrum to join forces as right and left wing parties are finding themselves looking for common ground in the wake of challenges posed by the far right.

    Sputnik spoke to Dr Anders Hellström, senior lecturer in political science from Malmo University in Sweden to ask if these changes in Swedish politics were part of a broader trend.

    Sputnik: Does this election result mark a turning point in Swedish politics?

    Dr Anders Hellström: This election has buried the ‘bloc’ politics. For a very long time in Sweden there has been a struggle between the left and the right —the red and blue — and now we have the Swedish Democrats. It will become much more complicated. As you know, you have managed to find a solution in Germany and other places.

    There will be some kind of a solution but I don’t know which. I just know that you have to think ‘new’; you cannot go with the traditional divide of the red and blue any longer because it doesn’t work. You have to form new coalitions but right now we don’t even know who will become the new Prime Minister so it’s quite chaotic right now.

    Sputnik: Is what we are seeing in Sweden part of a broader trend in Europe as Eurosceptic parties gain ground, as we saw for example with Marine le Pen, in France in the 2017 elections?

    Dr Anders Hellström: It’s funny that you mention Le Pen because what I think is really interesting is to see what is a general trend towards a strong polarisation. So you have Le Pen – like I said – but you also have the new French President Emmanuel Macron who slaughtered Le Pen in the second round of the election.

    And also when you look at Swedish politics today the resistance to the Swedish Democrats is really, really strong in Sweden. So even if the Swedish Democrats have grown a lot, the main antagonists have grown.

    Sputnik: Is immigration entirely the cause of the Swedish Democrats’ success?

    Dr Anders Hellström: No, I wouldn’t say so.

    But I would say that’s what happened during the Fall 2015 – the massive intake of refugees from the civil war in Syria – that has challenged the capacity of many, many municipalities. And there are a lot of people who are worried or concerned about what will happen.

    Sweden Democrats Party leader Jimmie Akesson in Stockholm, Sweden (File)
    © REUTERS / Anders Wiklund/TT News Agency
    And the Swedish Democrats can put forward a nostalgic vision which you can cling on to. Maybe you have experiences in your own life, maybe you have a loss, less prestigious position and what the Swedish democrats can do is to put forward a nostalgic vision. But the problem is the lack of progressive visions which can contradict that vision.

    So even if they Swedish Democrats are extremely nostalgic, they are also visionary.  Even if this vision is backward-oriented.

    Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Dr Anders Hellström and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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