Sweden election results: Sweden Democrats make huge gains

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption Swedish teen's sit-in climate protest

Supporters celebrate at the Social Democratic Party's election night party in Stockholm on Sunday.

All the smaller parties, except the Greens, improved on their 2014 results at the expense of the two larger parties.

For those predicting a decisive right-wing triumph, the ultimate result didn't quite live up to the hype.

Responding to the result, Spanish newspaper El País labelled the elections "unprecedented" and described the contest as a "vote between integration and xenophobia".

The nationalist Sweden Democrats (SD) have won about 18 percent of the vote, up from 12.9 percent in the previous election.

When 17.6 percent of the electorate in a sensible country like Sweden vote for an outsider party, the political elite should sit up and take notice.

Minority governments are not new in Sweden, since it operates under the principle of negative parliamentarism.

In Sweden, to enter Parliament, a party has to pass the 4-percent threshold.

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An exit poll is projecting that almost one in five Swedish voters backed an anti-immigrant party with white supremacist roots in the Scandinavian country's election. "So we really have to solve it now".

The current blocs are the so called "Red-Green" bloc, which was set up by the Social Democrats before the 2010 general election, and the Alliance, which was established by four centre-right parties in 2004.

Akesson was adamant his party holds the balance of power.

That could prove fatal for the Alliance, with the Liberal and Centre parties repeatedly ruling out a deal with the far right. Among other things, the party no longer advocates for reintroducing the death penalty or for limiting the adoption of non-Nordic children.

Sweden saw itself as a "humanitarian superpower" for years, but a rise in gang violence in areas of high unemployment has won support for the Sweden Democrats.

In Sweden, the record levels of asylum seekers in 2015 magnified worries about a welfare system that many voters already believe is in crisis, even though the numbers of refugees arriving have fallen sharply since then.

It would have to either make policy concessions in exchange for the Sweden Democrats' support or offer key positions on parliamentary committees that draft legislation. And this wasn't just campaign speak.

Pollsters had warned that the far-right Sweden Democrats could end up winning veto power over which parties form the next government. But thanks to the Sweden Democrats, it became a question that couldn't go unanswered, Johan Hassel, the Social Democrats' global secretary, said after the vote.

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"They adopted the [Sweden Democrats'] agenda because they were afraid of losing voters", said Ulf Bjereld, a professor at Gothenburg University and an active member of the Social Democrats.

In Sweden, the influx of 163,000 asylum seekers in 2015 has polarised voters, and could give the Sweden Democrats, a party with roots in the neo-Nazi fringe, a veto over which parties form the next government.

Sweden is facing political uncertainty as the two main parliamentary blocs both fell shy of a majority with the centre-left bloc having 40.6% of the vote and the centre-right having 40.2%, with the vote counting completed.

Mr Kristersson, in turn, has called on Prime Minister Stefan Lofven to step down as the country stares down the barrel of a hung parliament.

Although both major parties have ruled out formally ruling with the Sweden Democrats in a coalition, the center-right Moderates have said they would not reject support in areas where the parties' positions coincide.

The Swedish general election has left the two main political blocs nearly tied, with the anti-immigration party making gains on its previous results. They'll "have to face the facts", Andersson said.

Despite their successes, the Sweden Democrats remain an unlikely coalition partner for the other parties.

But this is only if they accept any sort of accommodation with the Sweden Democrats, however vague.

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Its strong rhetoric has shocked many Swedes.

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