Finland's Social Democrats win first place in advance voting

Climate change, social care are top issues in Finnish vote

Climate change, social care are top issues in Finnish vote

Finland's leftist Social Democrats party has won the general election by a thin margin, capturing two more seats than the nationalist Finns Party, according to final results from the justice ministry.

Underscoring a growing confidence among far-right politicians in Europe, anti-immigration parties, including the Finns, have announced plans to join forces after the May 26 European Union election in a move that could give them a major say in how the continent is run.

Only 0.2 percentage points separated the two parties - in a heavily splintered political landscape where the Social Democrats were the biggest party with 17.7 percent of votes.

Polls show the Finns Party ending up in second or third place, meaning it could hold significant influence in the talks to form the next government, which in Finland is typically a coalition of three or four parties.

The nationalist True Finns party came in fourth, with 15.1% of the vote.

Party Secretary Riikka Slunga-Poutsalo and Chairman of The Finns Party Jussi Halla-aho attend The Finns Party parliamentary election party.

During the campaign, most parties expressed strong reservations about sharing a government platform with Halla-aho's party, while stopping short of ruling it out entirely.

The Social Democrats' Antti Rinne has previously said his party would find it "very difficult" to enter a coalition with the Finns Party.

"Some of the questions will be about values", Rinne told Finnish media.

Petteri Orpo, leader of the conservative National Coalition Party and co-architect of the government´s savings programme, has denounced the Social Democratic Party´s anti-austerity plans as "irresponsible".

Rinne's party could also choose to form a coalition with the conservative National Coalition party, which came in third place with 38 seats.

Yet the Social Democratic Party may face tough economic conditions in which to implement its anti-austerity promises: many economic forecasts suggest Finland´s GDP growth will slow in the coming years.

Chairman of The Centre Party Juha Sipil' hugs his wife Minna-Maaria Sipil' during The Centre Party parliament election party in Helsinki, Finland on Sunday, April 14, 2019.

The heated debate in the run-up to the vote led some analysts to predict that turnout will be high.

The current government's cuts to Finland's prized education system, and a tightening of unemployment benefit criteria, provoked loud and widespread public opposition.

Rinne has been a staunch opponent of the National Coalition's austerity policies over the past four years.

The center-left Social Democratic Party tops a recent poll with 19% support.

However, in a tacit acknowledgement that the public mood is against further belt-tightening, Orpo has insisted the economy is now strong enough to allow for some more generous public spending.

However, Rinne said he "has questions" for the Finns Party and did not rule out cooperating with them to form a majority.

The growing Finns Party ratings, on the other hand, appeared to be driven by new supporters who have not voted in the past.

At a Finns Party rally on the eve of the vote in Myyrmaki, a disadvantaged suburb of the capital, a crowd of people, young and old, clamoured around party leader Jussi Halla-aho, asking for autographs and congratulating him on the campaign.

The Finns Party does have previous experience of being in government, when they became the second-largest party in the 2015 election.

The hardline faction, led by Halla-aho, went into opposition in 2017, and the party took a further lurch to the right.

Notícias recomendadas

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.