Far right party could hold balance of power after Swedish election

Sweden's centre-right government heads into tomorrow's election with a commanding lead in the polls - but could lose its majority if a far-right group makes it into Parliament.

Sweden's centre-right government heads into tomorrow's election with a commanding lead in the polls - but could lose its majority if a far-right group makes it into Parliament.

Prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt's coalition has been boosted by popular tax cuts and healthy public finances that stand out in debt-ridden Europe, and polls suggest a clear victory over the opposition Red-Green bloc.

Mr Reinfeldt, however, also needs voters to deny the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats a kingmaker role.

"Those who like Sweden do not vote for the Sweden Democrats," Mr Reinfeldt, 45, said at a campaign rally Saturday. He urged voters to keep the party out of Parliament to ensure his four-party alliance can maintain its majority.

The Sweden Democrats demand sharp cuts to immigration and have called Islam Sweden's biggest foreign threat since the Second World War. Both major blocs refuse to work with the nationalist group, saying it represents xenophobic views that run counter to Sweden's tradition of tolerance.

Immigrants make up 14% of Sweden's population of 9.4 million. The biggest immigrant group is from neighbouring Finland, followed by Iraq, the former Yugoslavia and Poland.

The Sweden Democrats say immigration has become an economic burden, draining the welfare system and channelling jobs to newcomers who work for lower wages.

"The immigration policy is the most important issue in this election and we want that to be debated and we want the other parties to change their policy," Sweden Democrats leader Jimmie Akesson said today.

Surveys show Swedish voters are more concerned about unemployment, the economy and the environment than immigration. Still, Mr Akesson could get disproportionate influence in Parliament, if neither side controls more than half of the seats.

Polls released Saturday suggested Mr Reinfeldt's majority will stand, though a small surge for the Sweden Democrats could lead to a hung Parliament.

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