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Q&A: Why does Sweden's election result matter?

By Per Nyberg, CNN
The Swedish media is speculating about how the minority coalition can govern without including the Sweden Democrats.
The Swedish media is speculating about how the minority coalition can govern without including the Sweden Democrats.
  • Sweden's ruling coalition falls short of overall majority
  • Far-right anti-immigration Sweden Democrats party win place in Parliament
  • The leader of the opposition coalition concedes defeat
  • Voters approve of the coalition's handling of the economy

Stockholm, Sweden (CNN) -- Sweden's ruling center-right coalition secured a return to power in Sunday's election. But the alliance -- which includes the Moderate Party, Liberal People's Party, Christian Democrats and the Center party -- lost its outright majority. CNN's Per Nyberg looks at the significance of the vote.

Why is this election result historic?

This election is historic for several reasons. Firstly it is the first time a non-socialist government has been re-elected to a second term in office. It is also historic economically, coming soon after one of Sweden's worst downturns -- though its economy is now growing again. Finally, the result is also historic because the far-right Sweden Democrats party won a foothold in Parliament for the first time.

Far-right leader: Success due to immigration backlash

The Sweden Democrats made ground on an anti-immigration ticket. Was this a major issue in the election build-up?

Video: Swedes hit polls in historic election

It has been a major issue in that the other parties have all warned of a situation where the Sweden Democrats would make it into Parliament so had urged voters not to back them. The immigration issue itself has not been as significant here as it has been in the UK for example, with talk of an immigration cap there.

Sweden has a long tradition of accepting refugees and now a large percentage of the population have roots outside the country. The Sweden Democrats focused their anti-immigration policies on Muslims coming into the country in particular.

How will this affect its relations with the rest of the world? Should we care?

Since all the main parties have said that they will not cooperate with the Sweden Democrats, it shouldn't become a major issue for Sweden in its international relations.

Despite seeing the ruling coalition lose its majority, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt told CNN: "I don't foresee any changes in Sweden's role internationally. We are broadly in agreement about Sweden's role internationally in terms of climate issues, and when it comes to our active engagement in the United Nations and the European Union."

But there is no escaping the fact that Sweden has joined a string of European countries which have seen far-right parties make progress with the electorate.

How have the Swedish media reacted to the result?

The media are now speculating heavily on how the minority coalition will be able to find a way to govern without including the Sweden Democrats. The press is not surprised at the results since several polls had suggested this specific outcome for weeks -- though many are outraged that this far-right party has now actually made it into the Swedish Parliament.

Annika Strom Melin of the Swedish Daily Dagens Nyheter writes in her column that "it was very uncomfortable listening to the Sweden Democrats singing 'We are taking back our land' during their election night party." She concludes that "The Sweden Democrats are probably, unfortunately, here to stay."

Where does this leave the left in Swedish politics?

The left now has a lot of soul-searching to do. The Social Democrats, who governed Sweden for the majority of the last century, were handed their worst election result in recent history. It is clear many Swedes are looking to the center-right for a new kind of welfare state.