Swedes weigh choices before vote likely to boost far-right

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption Swedish teen's sit-in climate protest

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption Swedish teen's sit-in climate protest

The prime minister said the mainstream parties now have a "moral responsibility" to form a government, and keep away from power a party he has previously claimed had "roots in Nazism". The two largest catch-all parties, the Social Democrats and the Conservatives, kept shrinking and the right-wing populists, the Sweden Democrats, kept growing.

A far-right party which campaigned with an anti-migrant message is thought to have taken around one in five votes in Sweden's elections.

That same scenario has played out similarly in countries across Europe, where traditional left and right parties have employed similar strategies to regain voters from populist parties, largely without success.

"In Sweden we live in a false dictatorship because none of the other parties will ever let the Sweden Democrats have any power", he complained, as his colleague Adin shook his head in amused disagreement.

The SD, widely tipped to make gains in the election, won about 18 percent support, jumping almost five percentage points since the last elections four years ago.

"We will gain huge influence over what happens in Sweden during the coming weeks, months and years", he told supporters.

Final election returns were expected later in the week.

Beyond the Sweden Democrats, the ruling Social Democrats and Green Party both secured a lower vote share than in 2014, which was offset to some extent by the rise in support enjoyed by the Left (V).

Party leader Jimmie Akesson has said there is no place for racism in the party, which in the build up to the elections called the arrival of nearly 400,000 asylum seekers into Sweden since 2012 a threat to national culture and a strain on Sweden's welfare system.

The Sweden Democrats want to freeze migration and have pushed for the country to leave the European Union.

The Sweden Democrats have been championing closed borders for years and want to severely restrict immigration and integration.

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Now, with a deeply fragmented result, talks must begin to try to work out how to form a government.

The Sweden Democrats, a party with roots in the white supremacist fringe, had 17.6 percent, up from 12.9 percent in the last election four years ago.

Sweden saw itself as a "humanitarian superpower" for years, but a rise in gang violence in immigrant-dominated, deprived city suburbs has also won support for the Sweden Democrats.

Instead Sweden may get centre-right government with the tacit support of the far right.

Social Democrat prime minister Stefan Lofven pledged on Sunday evening to remain prime minister of Sweden, with the general elections giving his centre-left bloc 144 seats in the Swedish parliament, the Riksdagen - one more mandate than the centre-right opposition alliance's 143 seats.

In Sweden, to enter Parliament, a party has to pass the 4-percent threshold.

The four-party Alliance has however rejected his offer, urging him to step down and make way for them to form a government. Both have built alliances with other smaller parties and while neither of these alliances have a majority (both stand at 40 percent), it might be - depending on how much those not part of the relative alliance object to it - enough for one of them.

Lofven eventually said Sweden no longer could cope with the influx and immigration laws were tightened.

Later, the premier again commented on the migration issue in a column posted on his office's website.

At the same time, the Sweden Democrats party still prides itself on its consistently hard-line position on immigration-and it proved that it could very ably inject its ideas into the political mainstream. "The other parties can't ignore them any more", he said. Nevertheless, prime minister Stefan Löfven did not resign on election night, citing the need for stability. Most notably, he's been an outspoken critic of the rising number of immigrants in Sweden.

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