Madrid: The last time Swedes headed to the polls in a general election, the far-right Sweden Democrats (SD) failed to convince voters that its anti-immigration politics were relevant.

It earned 12.9 per cent of votes in the September 2014 poll.

Now, the party is likely to win 20 per cent and, given the fractured nature of Swedish politics and the many small parties that vie for power in a coalition agreement, it may end up as either a key force in a new government or, shut out and sitting on the sidelines as any angry voice of discontent.

“The extreme right may have entered government in Norway and Finland, and become the second political force in the Danish parliament, but Sweden long looked to be immune,” said Pawel Zerka, a political scientist for the European Committee for Social Rights and the European Commission in an analysis provided to Gulf News.

According to Zerka, the last general election took place the year before the refugee crisis; and despite the fact that the number of refugees arriving in Sweden has declined significantly since 2015, as it has across Europe, it has left a lasting trauma.

“Now, it looks as if Sweden will become another European country where populists are ‘waltzing into the mainstream, as the Economist puts it’,” he said, noting the SD may even opt out or be shut out of government. “This has already happened in Denmark, the Netherlands, Austria, and Finland, among others,” he observed. “The far-right often wins by infecting the political mainstream with a populist virus, without the need to formally enter the government.”