Incumbent Stefan Lofven vowed to stay in his post after the center-right leader demanded his resignation, and the surging Sweden Democrats boasted they will be kingmaker as all sides prepare for a post-election deadlock.
“Nothing will be determined tonight,” Lofven, the Social Democrat leader, said in a speech as election results projected that both the center-right and the center-left coalition would both attain the same number of seats in parliament, and fall well short of a simple majority.
Promising to “calmly continue working” until a government is formed, and calling Sunday’s vote “the funeral of bloc politics” the one-term prime minister appeared to tout a possible grand coalition with the center-right, which is without precedent in the country’s politics.
The aim and “moral duty” of such a coalition would be to exclude the anti-migrant Sweden Democrats from power.
“The Sweden Democrats can never, and will never, offer anything that will help society. They will only increase division and hate,” said Lofven, who had repeatedly depicted his opponents as “Nazis” and “racist” through the course of the campaign.
But the long-established center-right Moderate Party did not appear immediately receptive to the overtures of a leader who has led his party to its worst result since 1908.
“This government has run its course,” the Moderates leader Ulf Kristersson told cheering supporters at a post-election rally. “Now it should resign.”