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Swedish center-left emerges victorious

September 15, 2014

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt has conceded defeat following the country's general election. A left-leaning coalition is expected to win the most seats in parliament, but without an absolute majority.

Parlamentswahl in Schweden 14.09.2014 Feier der Sozialdemokraten
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/Maja Suslin

Reinfeldt admitted on Sunday that his government, a grouping of four center-right parties which has been in power for eight years, appeared to have been voted out of office.

"The center-left has more seats (in parliament) than the Alliance," Reinfeldt told party supporters. "So tomorrow I am going to hand in mine and my government's resignation."

Reinfeldt said he would next year step down as leader of the Moderates, the largest party in the Alliance - which saw its support plummet.

While the Alliance garnered 39.1 percent, the center-left Red-Green bloc managed 43.7 percent - making it the largest grouping but well short of an overall majority.

Social Democrat leader Stefan Lofven is expected to become Sweden's next prime minister, and will need to enter coalition talks with other parties in the Red-Green bloc, including the environmentalist Green Party and possibly also Sweden's ex-communist Left Party.

Lofven's party enjoyed a huge improvement in its share of the vote, up from 5.7 percent in 2010 to at least 13 percent this time around, amid disquiet about a growing gap between rich and poor.

"There's something that is falling apart in Sweden," said Lofven. "Tonight Sweden has answered that we need change."

However, even a united Red-Green bloc would still need support from outside to pursue its agenda.

Fredrik Reinfeldt - Sweden's Prime Minister and Moderates leader Fredrik Reinfeldt is pictured during an election debate at Kulturhuset in Stockholm September 5, 2014. Sweden will hold its general elections on September 14. REUTERS/Jessica Gow/TT News Agency (SWEDEN - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS) ATTENTION EDITORS - SWEDEN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SWEDEN. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Reinfeldt and his party are considered to have done well in steering Sweden through the financial crisisImage: Reuters/J. Gow

Feminists fail to cross threshold

One possible partner, Feminist Initiative, had been hovering around the 4 percent threshold to enter the parliament - but failed to attract enough votes in the end.

And while the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats won 13 percent in the poll, and 47 seats as a result, the establishment parties refuse to work with them. Lofven ruled out any possibility of doing so immediately after Reinfeldt's concession. "First of all, 87 percent did not vote for them," he said. "Their values are so far from ours."

The most likely option on Sunday evening was for the left-leaning alliance to seek out one of Reinfeldt's coalition partners.

The incumbent prime minister and his conservative Moderate Party are widely credited with doing a good job of shepherding Sweden through the global financial crisis that broke out towards the end of the last decade. However, the defeat had been predicted in polling, with critics pointing to a growing income gap between the country's rich and poor in the eight years since Reinfeldt took office.

rc/crh (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)