Danish voters ponder immigration, climate and welfare issues | AFP

Voters cast their ballots in Copenhagen for a general election in which the opposition Social Democrats are tipped to return to power after adopting the right wing’s long-standing restrictive stance on immigration.

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Denmark Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen casts his vote in general election | AFP

Danish Prime Minister and head of the ruling Liberal Party, Lars Lokke Rasmussen, casts her vote in Copenhagen in a general election where climate concerns top the agenda. The opposition Social Democrats are tipped to return to power after adopting the right wing’s long-standing restrictive stance on immigration. IMAGES

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Social Democrats leader casts her vote in Danish general election | AFP

The leader of Denmark’s opposition centre-left Social Democrats, Mette Frederiksen, casts her vote in Copenhagen in a general election where climate concerns top the agenda. The Social Democrats are tipped to return to power after adopting the right wing’s long-standing restrictive stance on immigration. IMAGES

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Polls open in Danish elections | AFP

Polls open in Denmark’s general election with the opposition Social Democrats predicted to return to power after adopting the right wing’s long-standing restrictive stance on immigration. IMAGES

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Sweden: Stefan Lofven wins second term after months of wrangling

Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven gives a press conference after being voted in for a second term, ending a four-month political vaccuum. Lofven will formally present his new minority centre-left government, comprising his Social Democrats and the Greens, and its programme on Monday.

Nazis May Have Founded Sweden’s Rising Political Party (HBO)

Sweden’s far-right populists won their biggest ever share of the vote in Sunday’s general elections, underlining how immigration has reshaped politics even in one of Europe’s most tolerant democracies.

Although the Sweden Democrats largely set the agenda during the campaign, the far-right party made more modest gains than once feared, coming in third behind the two mainstream parties who are now scrambling to form the next government.

But while the populists may consider their 17.6 percent disappointing, after earlier polls had predicted they would finish in at least second place, analysts say the nationalist surge represents an alarming change in Sweden’s political landscape.

The populist party still won their largest ever share of the vote – up from 12.9 percent in 2014 – and successfully shifted both mainstream parties closer to their position on key issues of immigration, integration and identity.

“The mainstream has certainly moved closer to their positions,” Matthew Goodwin, visiting senior fellow in the Europe programme at the Chatham House think tank told VICE News.

Both the governing center-left Social Democrats and the center-right Moderates recorded among their worst results in modern history, with the rival blocs led by both parties left in virtually a dead heat.

With nearly all votes counted Monday, the Social Democrats, together with their allies the Greens and the Left Party, had won 40.6 percent of the vote, while the opposition centre-right Alliance was on 40.3 percent. With overseas votes yet to be counted, the center-left bloc holds 144 seats, and the center-right 143.

The country now faces weeks of uncertainty as both blocs engage in frantic horse-trading to try to form the next government.

Both of the main blocs have said they will not work with the Sweden Democrats, a party with roots in fascism and neo-Nazism, as part of a tactic to isolate the group and its populist politics.

The far-right party commanded strong polling numbers during the campaign as it hammered home its core issues of immigration, crime and integration to a voting public anxious over the arrival of 163,000 asylum seekers during the height of the migration crisis.

But after surging to first-equal in polls in mid-July, support for the populists slackened in recent weeks, as other issues gained attention — including climate change, following a summer of record high temperatures and raging wildfires.

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Subdued reactions to exit poll at Sweden’s far-right party event

Far-right Sweden Democrat party members react to initial election results in Stockholm. Despite the right making gains, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven’s Social Democrats looked poised to take the lead in Sunday’s general election. IMAGES