Finnish conservative and populist parties push Marin into third place

Finnish conservative and populist parties push Marin into third place

Finland’s main conservative party has claimed victory in a tight general election followed by a Eurosceptic populist party.

The centre-right National Coalition came first with 20.8 per cent, followed by the far-right Finns party with 20.1 per cent. Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s Social Democrats came third with 19.9 per cent.

More than 2,400 candidates from 22 parties ran for Finland’s 200-seat parliament.

“We got the biggest mandate,” announced National Coalition leader Petteri Orpo. “Based on this result, talks over forming a new government in Finland will be initiated under the leadership of the National Coalition party.”

Orpon will begin talks on forming an administration but said they would be protracted because “differences of opinion are very large”.

The unprecedented success of the nationalist Finns party will worry the European Union, showing that populism remains a formidable electoral force.

“I am basking in the satisfaction and gratitude that the party has achieved the biggest electoral victory in its history,” said Riikka Purra, the party leader. “The last few months and weeks have been indescribable. We are touching people. True Finns have gathered together like a flock of penguins in a storm.”

Conceding defeat, Marin, 37, said her party had a bigger vote share and seat count than in the 2019 general election, eight months before she became prime minister. “I am really proud of all of you,” she told supporters. “It’s a great day because we’ve done well. Democracy has spoken and we have reason to be happy about this result.”

Marin had ruled out joining any coalition with the Finns, calling the party openly racist. Orpo has not ruled any deals out but he clashed bitterly with Purra during the election campaign on immigration and the European Union. The Finns party says it wants to leave the bloc in the long term.

The decision to abandon the nation’s non-alignment policy and apply for Nato membership last May and the war in Ukraine were not major issues during the campaign. Finland shares a 1,340km land border with Russia.

Immigration, economic growth, the government’s increasing debt, climate change, education, immigration and social benefits were far more actively discussed during the campaign.

Petteri Orpo. Picture credit: YouTube

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