In Sweden, an influx of 163,000 asylum seekers in 2015 - the most in Europe relative to the country's population of 10 million - has polarised voters and fractured the political consensus.
During a heated debate Friday evening of party leaders, Akesson caused a stir by blaming migrants for the difficulties they often have in finding employment and not adjusting to Sweden.
He said the election result marked "the death of bloc politics" in Sweden.
For me, when he is saying that immigrants are not welcome to Sweden.he is trying to spread hate between the people.
Supporters attend a campaign meeting of the party leader of the far-right Sweden Democrats, Jimmie Akesson, in Stockholm, Sweden September 8, 2018.
But the two blocs have never governed in tandem, and so far all other parties have shunned the Sweden Democrats.
Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Akesson has labelled the vote a choice between immigration and welfare.
Sweden's ruling center-left bloc commanded a marginal lead over the center-right Alliance in Sunday's national election with the unaligned, anti-immigration Sweden Democrats (SD) making gains, preliminary election authority results showed on Sunday.More news: Three protesters dead during violent unrest in Iraq's Basra
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Either some form of cooperation between the center-left and Alliance or an accommodation with the Sweden Democrats is likely to be necessary. "The democratic revolution in Europe is underway!"
Well aware that neither Lofven's "red-green" bloc nor his own Alliance had a chance of winning a majority, Kristersson has said Sweden needs "a strong cross-bloc cooperation to isolate the forces. pushing for Sweden to withdraw from worldwide cooperation". "It's also about decency, about a decent democracy ... and not letting the Sweden Democrats, an extremist party, a racist party, get any influence in the government".
The record levels of asylum seekers in 2015 magnified worries about a welfare system that many voters already believe is in crisis, even though refugee numbers have fallen sharply since then.
Voting in central Stockholm, student Katze Collmar, 32, said the campaign had been "really unpleasant".
Mohamed Nuur, a 26-year-old Social Democratic candidate of Somali descent, said he sees Akesson taking Sweden back to the past.
"We used to be very safe". Emilia Orpana said she and another party supporter were threatened by two young men who called them "damned racists". Another voter indicated that she was scared of what support for the Sweden Democrats might mean for the country, stating that "the future of our attractive open society is threatened".
Polling stations were due to close at 8 p.m., with final results due before midnight (2200 GMT).
The Social Democrats and its allies have tried to appease anti-migrant sentiment in the country by urging more integration programs and resources for refugees in marginalized communities, and to help them access education. New Democracy, founded by an aristocrat and a record producer, won almost 7 per cent of the vote in 1991, on the promise of strict immigration policies, cheaper alcohol and free parking, only to crash out of parliament three years later.
Sweden's struggles have captured attention around the world, including in the United States, where President Donald Trump has at times held it up as an example of the failures that come from too much immigration.