Education and unemployment are the key battlegrounds in Sweden's upcoming general election. But with neither of the main parties set to win a majority, the country could be heading for political deadlock. Ivor Bennett reports.
For years it's been a beacon of stability. But as Europe's crisis continues to spread, Sweden's foundations could be rocking. What seemed like a done deal, Sunday's general election is now anything but. The latest polls suggesting the country could be heading for political deadlock. Political commentator Stig-Bjorn Ljunggren. (SOUNDBITE) (English) POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, STIG-BJORN LJUNGGREN, SAYING: "The main issue has been whom has people most confidence in - most trustworthy to run the country, because the differences in programme isn't that big it's more like which guy are you in favour of." On one side is current Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt. His centre-right coalition has been in power for 8 years - transforming Sweden's image from high-tax socialist state into economic star. It's one of the few countries left in Europe with a AAA rating. (SOUNDBITE) (Swedish) SWEDISH PRIME MINISTER, FREDRIK REINFELDT, SAYING: "Our choice is order in the public finances, our choice is to say to the people that now we will build those reserves that we will need when the next recession and crisis comes. That's how you care for people." On the other side, is former welder Stefan Lofven. Sliding standards in education have given his Social Democrat party a platform. That and unemployment, which currently stands at 7.8 percent. (SOUNDBITE) (English) LEADER OF THE SOCIAL DEMOCRATS, STEFAN LOFVÉN, SAYING: "This government, this prime minister, has labelled industry as a separate interest, which I don't believe it is, it's a society interest, so more of cooperation, active industry policy, make sure that people get jobs and also more resources to the school because the school needs more resources." The opposition's lead in the polls was much as 10 percentage points in August. Now it's just 3.6. But with neither party set to win a majority, they could be at the mercy of more radical alternatives. The anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats for example are reportedly on course for 10 percent of the votes on Sunday, double their result in 2010.