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Coalition has lead in Swedish poll

Sweden's centre-right government heads into the election with a commanding lead in the polls but could lose its majority if an Islam-bashing 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 Reinfeld, 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 on 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.

Surveys show Swedish voters are more concerned about unemployment, the economy and the environment than immigration.

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

A Sifo survey showed the centre-right bloc winning 183 of the 349 seats, compared to 166 seats for the Red-Green coalition, spearheaded by the Social Democrats.

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From Belfast Telegraph