Its anyone's race in Sweden's parliamentary elections according to exit polls.
Earlier Sweden's ruling left-wing Social Democrats looked set to claim a narrow win on Sunday, although that lead then swung to the opposition right-wing bloc.
The latest exit poll results, reflecting around half the votes, puts the conservative bloc on top. If accurate, this would make Moderate party leader Ulf Kristersson as the new Prime Minister. The difference, however, reflected only a single seat advantage in parliament.
Despite this, the leader of the Swedish Liberals Party Johan Pehrson was celebrating his blocs’ victory, according to early results from Swedish public broadcaster SVT.
An an earlier SVT survey had given Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson's center-left bloc 49.8% of the votes against 49.2% for the opposition right-wing parties.
SVT has a margin of error, and the final outcome will only be known once all votes are tallied.
There are eight parties running to win seats in the parliament, or the Riksdag, and each of the parties belong to either the center-left bloc or the conservative bloc.
If the forecasts are confirmed by official results, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson would likely be in a position to remain in power since her Social Democrats party was projected to win 29.3% of the vote, according to SVT.
Election officials said later on Monday that with the results still too close to call, there would be no announcement of official results before Wednesday at the earliest.
Strong support for populist party
The conservative bloc includes Sweden Democrats, a popular anti-immigration party that made significant gains this election.
Swedish broadcaster SVT gave the right-wing party 20.5% of votes, which accounted for its best result so far.
In 2018, the party won around 13% of the votes in the general election.
Still, disappointment at the party election headquarters was palpable as party members realized they were unlikely to form a new coalition government.
The populist party gained support as it vowed to crack down on shootings and other gang violence that harmed hurt public safety in Sweden.
What happened earlier in the day?
Swedes were voting in an election on Sunday that pits the incumbent center-left Social Democrats against a right-wing bloc hoping to regain power after eight years in opposition.
An opinion poll earlier in the day published by the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet over the weekend showed Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson's Social Democrat camp winning 49.6% of the vote and the Conservative bloc, which includes the right-wing, anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats, 49.4% of the vote.
"It is completely even," said Karin Nelsson, head of the polling institute Demoskop. Other recent surveys have painted similar pictures.
Public broadcaster SVT saw Andersson's block at 49.7% and that of her rival Ulf Kristersson at 49.4%. The daily Dagens Nyheter put Andersson's block at 50% and Kristersson's block at 48.2%.
The election campaign was dominated by two issues: the sharp rise in energy prices and rampant gang crime. With an ever-growing number of shootings unsettling voters, campaign parties have struggled to be the toughest to crack down on gangs, while rising inflation and the energy crisis following the Russian invasion of Ukraine have drawn increasing attention.
Complicated talks ahead
A dead heat would set the stage for complicated government-forming talks likely to be led by either Magdalena Andersson or Ulf Kristersson, a political veteran who leads the centre-right Moderate Party.
Andersson currently leads a minority government made up of only her Social Democrats. The party relies on the support of the liberal Center Party, the Left and the Greens in Sweden's 349-seat parliament, Riksdag.
Kristersson has recently begun to align his interests with right-wing populists. The Sweden Democrats have leapt to second place in opinion polls behind the Social Democrats in the final weeks of the campaign.
The far-right party is predicted to overtake the moderates and win more than 20% of the vote. That will give them unprecedented power to shape the government.
rm, dh/aw (AP, dpa, Reuters)