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Populist leader says it's 'time to put Sweden first' as he claims right-wing election victory

Jimmie Akesson, leader of the Sweden Democrats, said his party would be “a constructive and driving force.”
Jimmie Akesson, the leader of the anti-immigrant party Sweden Democrats, speaks at the party's election watch party in Nacka, Sweden, on Sept. 11, 2022.
Jimmie Akesson, the leader of the populist Sweden Democrats party, speaks in Nacka, Sweden, on Sunday.Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP - Getty Images
/ Source: Associated Press

Sweden’s center-left Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson on Wednesday conceded defeat in a weekend election while the leader of a nationalist anti-immigration party declared victory for his right-wing bloc.

Jimmie Akesson, leader of the populist Sweden Democrats, said his party would be “a constructive and driving force in this work” of rebuilding safety in Sweden. He said it was “time to put Sweden first.”

With almost all votes counted, the right-wing bloc of four parties that includes the Sweden Democrats — the country’s second-largest party — appeared to have won a thin majority in parliament. Though a few votes were outstanding they were not enough to sway the final outcome.

Andersson said that the “the preliminary result is clear enough to draw a conclusion” that her center-left forces had lost power.

Andersson became Sweden’s first female prime minister last year and led the country in its historic bid to join NATO following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Sweden Democrats party was long shunned by Swedes because of its roots in the neo-Nazi movement. In recent years it has moved into the mainstream by expelling extremists and gained support with a tough stance on crime and immigration amid a rise in shootings and other gang violence.

The result leaves the right-wing bloc with 176 seats in the 349-parliament, the Riksdag, and Andersson’s center-left bloc with 173 seats.

“The four right-wing parties appear to have received just under 50% of the votes in the election, and in the Riksdag, they have gained one or two mandates. A thin majority, but it is a majority,” Andersson said. “Tomorrow I will therefore request my dismissal as Prime Minister and the responsibility for the continued process will now pass to the Parliament speaker and the Riksdag.”