Voters in Sweden appear split amid immigration debate

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In a very tight race, Sweden's centre-left bloc received 40.6 percent of the vote, slightly more than the centre-right bloc, which won 40.2 percent.

Sweden's national election commission reported the governing Social Democrats had 28.1 percent of the vote at a little past the midway point in the vote count from Sunday's election. Please refresh the page for the fullest version.

Leaders in Brussels will be disappointed with the party's surge ahead of the European Parliament's elections in May next year, as they bid to discourage euroskepticism following the UK's decision to leave the EU, and as populist parties form alliances to shake up the EU establishment ahead of the vote.

The rise of the SD has been the main focus of coverage of the 2018 Sweden Election, with the worldwide press writing the party's popularity into the narrative of the rise of anti-immigration populist parties in Europe.

With both options unpalatable to the traditional players, forming a government could take weeks.

Projections indicate that the Sweden Democrats, which has white supremacist roots, placed third in the parliamentary election today.

Swedes went to the polls on Sunday and although it will take some time for a ruling coalition to emerge, the biggest immediate victor appears to be the party that won't form a government.

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If the Sweden Democrats win a quarter of the vote, it would be a sensation in a country described as a "humanitarian superpower" in 2014 by the prime minister of the time, the Moderate party's Fredrik Reinfeldt.

The Sweden Democrats, led by Jimmie Akesson, links the country's rising crime rate to immigration, but official figures can't prove any correlation.

Centre-right Alliance prime minister candidate Ulf Kristersson, head of the Moderates, called on outgoing prime minister Stefan Lofven to resign, saying the centre-left coalition had run its course.

"[If] center-left parties can't come up with a better narrative, a better set of policies, a way of making this work, then they are screwed".

The other of the two blocs that have defined Swedish politics for a decade, the four-party center-right Alliance coalition, trailed close behind on 38.5 percent. The election will be Sweden's first since the government in 2015 allowed 163,000 migrants into the country of 10 million.

The nationalist SD, anti-immigration nationalists that have been shunned by all other parties, were on track to get 17.8 percent of seats.

The Sweden Democrats, a party rooted in a neo-Nazi movement but which has been working to soften its image, has been breaking down longstanding taboos surrounding public discourse on immigration and integration.

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With neither main bloc able to command a majority, the Sweden Democrats - who want the country to leave the European Union and put a freeze on immigration - could play a decisive role in negotiations over forming a government.

"Nevertheless, voters made the Social Democrats Sweden's biggest party", Lofven said.

Jimmie Åkesson, Sweden Democrats leader, promised to wield "real influence" in parliament after the modest gains.

"I think we are facing an extremely complicated process to form a government, maybe the most complicated in modern times", said political scientist Niklas Bohlin at the Mid Sweden University. We won't mourn, we will organise ourselves, " he said.

"There is no side with a majority".

"Sweden is at a place where Denmark was in the 1990s, where you call someone racist if they talk about the problems that really exist", the Danish minister remarked. "But the expected. bang did not happen", the liberal Expressen daily said in an op-ed piece.

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