STOCKHOLM

Sweden’s Social Democrats are likely to come out on top in legislative elections Sunday, while the far right is in for major gains, according to an exit poll published with four hours to go before the end of voting.

The YouGov survey published by the Metro daily showed Social Democrats with 29.6 percent of the vote, while the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats were projected to garner 10.4 percent. If the predictions are right, the Social Democrats’ 57-year-old leader, Stefan Loefven, is likely to be called upon to attempt to form a new government. According to YouGov, the Social Democrats, the Greens and the Left Party will get a combined 44.9 percent of the vote. This compares with 39.3 percent for the incumbent four-party centre-right coalition headed by the Moderates. The poll suggests an end to 49-year-old Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt’s eight years at the helm of the Nordic region’s largest economy. The far right Sweden Democrats, who only entered parliament in 2010, look likely to gain a considerable number of seats in parliament, although all other parties have declared that they will not go into coalition with them.

The result is a personal triumph for the Sweden Democrats leader, 35-year-old Jimmie Aakesson. In less than a decade he has brought the party from a non-entity to a force to be reckoned with, in another sign of the rise of the far right across Europe.

In Germany, the eurosceptic Alternative for Germany, which has also flirted with populist positions on immigration and law and order, was expected to make big gains in elections Sunday in the eastern states of Thuringia and Brandenburg. Voting ends at 1800 GMT in Sweden.