Any path the mainstream parties choose now, the Sweden Democrats – the anti-migrant, anti-Islam outcasts that have shattered Sweden’s political consensus – stand to be the beneficiaries.
The Sweden Democrats did not win that election but their 17.5 percent of the vote meant that for the first time since World War II, neither the right nor the left bloc had a majority, or even a support base for a minority government. To rule, either faction would have to either cooperate with what is now the third-biggest party in the Riksdag, or with each other.
Lofven’s incumbent Social Democrats and their Green backers lost votes from 2014, leaving them dozens short of the 175 mandates they needed in the single 349-seat chamber that controls all of Sweden’s federal politics. Despite presiding over a four-year term when the migrant crisis, escalation of crime, and widening political rifts have shaken the country’s faith in itself, Lofven presumptuously volunteered himself as the continuity figure. His ego bubble was burst when the majority of deputies voted him out.