Sweden's center-left opposition appeared headed for a narrow election victory on Sunday, according to polls, on a platform of increased spending on job schemes, healthcare and schools after 8 years of tax cuts.
The Social Democrats, the largest single party polling around 30 percent, hope to rule with the Green Party. But even if opinion polls are born out, they are likely to rely on winning support from the Left Party and possibly smaller parties in the current center-right government to form a government.
Negotiations could be hard and protracted.
Many Swedes are worried that reforms under the center-right Alliance government have gone too far, weakening healthcare, allowing business to profit from schools at the expense of results and dividing a nation that has prided itself on the equality into haves and have nots.
But a splintered opposition has failed to tap into voter unease and is unlikely to win a clear majority in parliament. The anti-immigration Sweden Democrats may hold the balance of power but other parties refuse to work with them.
"All the signs point to the fact that the center-left are going to be bigger than the Alliance, but that they won't get a majority," Mikael Sundstrom, a political scientist at Lund University, said.
"It is going to be a very difficult situation for them."