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Sweden votes in tightly-contested election

Sweden votes in tightly-contested election
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Swedes are voting in a general election which Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt’s centre-right coalition is narrowly expected to win.

Sweden has benefited from one of Europe’s best economic recoveries. The ruling coalition has also brought in tax cuts, helping it to ride high in the opinion polls.

Victory would be the first time a sitting centre-right leader had won re-election.

The centre-left Social Democrats are led by Mona Sahlin, looking to become Sweden’s first woman prime minister. But the polls suggest the opposition coalition of left-wing parties is unlikely to come out on top.

All eyes are on the hard right Sweden Democrats under Jimmie Akesson, tipped to enter parliament for the first time. The party already has seats in local councils.

It denies it is racist, but its anti-immigration stance and criticisms of Muslims as un-Swedish have prompted both main blocs to rule out co-operating with the party.

Compared to other EU countries, Sweden has welcomed a relatively high number of immigrants from places such as Iraq and the Balkans.

A strong swing to the far-right could deprive the centre-right of its majority.

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