Early Monday, figures showed the Moderates, Sweden Democrats, Christian Democrats and Liberals winning 176 seats in the 349-seat parliament, against 173 from the centre-left.
In further evidence of the shift to the right, the anti-immigration Swedish Democrats are set to overtake the moderates as Sweden’s second largest party and largest in opposition – a historic shift in a country that has long prided itself on tolerance and openness. .
However, moderate leader Ulf Christerson is likely to be the right-wing candidate for prime minister.
“We don’t know what the outcome will be,” Christerson told supporters. “But I am willing to do everything in my power to form a new, stable and strong government for all of Sweden and all of its citizens.”
With some outside votes and some postal votes not yet counted, and the margin between the two blocks very slim, the results can still be changed.
Christerson said he would seek to form a government with the young Christian Democrats, possibly the Liberals, relying solely on Sweden’s democratic backing in Parliament. But it can be hard for him to keep away with a party that’s scheduled to be bigger than his own.
“At the moment it looks like there will be a change in power. Our ambition is to sit in government,” Swedish Democrat leader Jimmy Akesson told supporters at a post-election ceremony.
The prime minister, SPD MP Magdalena Anderson, did not admit defeat on election night, saying the results were too close.
The election authority said a preliminary result would be available on Wednesday at the earliest.
Regardless of which bloc wins, negotiations to form a government in a polarized and emotionally charged political landscape are likely to be long and difficult.