Here’s the latest from the Guardian’s European affairs correspondent Jon Henley, who is in the Swedish capital. Voters have said today’s general election is a “critical moment for this country.”
Outside the Hedvig Eleonora school in the prosperous Stockholm neighbourhood of Östermalm, Gabriel Kroon, 21 and sporting a Sweden Democrats 2018 tee-shirt, had one worry. “The only question about this election is whether the other parties will work with us after it,” he said.
Kroon, who is standing for the far-right party in local council elections, cut a lonely figure amid a long line of Centre and Moderate party conservatives.
But the Sweden Democrats were “making good progress” even in middle-class, urban areas like Östermalm, he said, and hoping for a solid 10-12% of the vote. “We’ll get there,” he said. “If not this time, then next time. They can’t ignore this many voters for ever.”
Others, however, were determined they would not. Harry Klagsbrun and his partner Marina Szugalski, who both voted for the liberal Centre party, said Sweden’s 2018 election was about the defence of liberal democracy: “One that takes into account the needs and the views of everyone, including minorities,” Klagsbrun, who works in banking, said pointedly.
Szugalski said it was “really dangerous not to understand what you’re actually voting for if you vote Sweden Democrat. But I think people are starting to see we are standing on the edge of a very slippery slope right now.”
Mikaela Lundh, 28, was equally forceful. A centre-right Moderate party supporter, she said this year’s vote “feels way, way more important than previous elections. This really feels like a critical moment for this country.”
While the Sweden Democrats would not enter government however well they did, with neither the established centre-right or centre-left blocs in with a chance of parliamentary majority, a strong showing would give the far-right party the power to block legislation in parliament.
“That in itself is harmful, because Sweden needs reforms,” Lundh said. “The government needs to be able to take decisions. We need to be able to act.”
For Anna Davidson, an educator at the Stockholm history museum, and her husband Viktor, a photographer, the environment was the number one priority. Both voted for the Green party. But both also considered their choice “a vote against racism”, said Anna.
“The Sweden Democrats are a racist party, of course they are. It worried me that they might do well. It worries me that this might be the first step towards their normalisation, that bit by bit, Sweden may be taking its first steps towards a government like Poland’s,” she said.
Vikto said immigration and integration, the Sweden Democrats’ potent electoral hobbyhorse, were “of course an issue. They need to be talked about, but just not in this way. Yes, they have caused problems for some people. But frankly, the people coming here face far, far bigger ones.”
Agneta, who declined to give her second name or say who she was voting for, was not so sure. “The number one priority is to get this government out,” she said. “They throw money at everything, but we see no results. Lots, for example, goes to immigrants – but what do we get back from that, really?”