“When you are holding on to power with one seat, it’s a cause of instability,” said Eric Adamson, a Stockholm-based project manager at the Atlantic Council’s northern Europe office. “This may make it harder for Sweden to take on a leadership role in northern Europe, in the E.U. or in NATO.”

Whatever the outcome, the race has already reshaped political discourse, pushing anti-immigrant and tough-on-crime rhetoric into the political mainstream and deepening fears here about the polarization — or “Americanization” — of Swedish politics.

“There is concern here that we are becoming more like America with polarization and intense rhetoric,” said Adamson, of the Atlantic Council. “Where every battle becomes an existential one.”

Further reading

Related Experts: Anna Wieslander