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Sweden heads to the polls in tight vote

Voting is under way in Sweden in what is set to be a tight race between the ruling centre-left Social Democrats and conservative parties.

An opinion poll published at the weekend by the Aftonbladet newspaper saw Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson’s Social Democrat camp at 49.6 per cent of the vote and the conservative bloc, which includes the right-wing, anti-immigration Sweden Democrats, at 49.4 per cent of the vote.

The first forecasted results are expected immediately after polls close at 8pm local time. The first partial results are then set to be published by the electoral authority in the course of the evening.

Based on the turnout of the last general election in 2018, the camps were only separated by around 13,000 votes.

“It is completely even,” said Karin Nelsson, head of the polling institute Demoskop.

Other recent surveys have painted similar pictures. The public broadcaster SVT saw Andersson’s bloc at 49.7 per cent and her rivl Ulf Kristersson’s at 49.4 per cent. The daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter had Andersson’s bloc at 50 per cent and Kristersson’s at 48.2 per cent.

A dead heat outcome would set the stage for complicated government formation talks, presumably led either by Andersson or Kristersson, a political veteran who heads the centre-right Moderate party.

Andersson currently leads a minority government of just her Social Democrats. The party relies on support of the liberal Centre Party, the Left and the Greens in Stockholm’s 349-seat Riksdag.

Kristersson recently began aligning his interests with the right-wing populists – and for good reason. The Sweden Democrats are predicted to overtake the Moderates and take more than 20 per cent of the vote, giving them unprecedented power to shape the government.

The election campaign had been dominated by two issues: the sharp rise in energy prices and rampant gangland crime.

Almost 7.8 million people are eligible to vote.

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