Finland’s youthful PM faces tight election

Finland’s youthful PM faces tight election

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin faces a tight general election on Sunday amid a recession and claims of excessive spending by her centre-left government.

Marin, who in 2019 became the world’s youngest head of government at 34, has been criticised for her coalition’s debt-fuelled spending.

Marin, now 37, says the education and health spending has driven economic growth while her main rivals, Petteri Orpo of the right-wing National Coalition Party and Riikka Purra of the nationalist Finns Party, are offering fiscal austerity and balance in government finances.

The campaign has also been dominated by immigration and security concerns surrounding Finland’s looming Nato accession, with the Turkish parliament opening the door to membership this week.

Polling puts the National Coalition at 19.8 per cent with Marin’s Social Democrats and the Finns Party both on 19.2 per cent.

Some forecasters are predicting a right-wing and far-right coalition headed by Orpo and Purra.

Falling support for her four coalition partners means the current administration, with its all-female leadership with four of them under 35 in 2019, is unlikely to retain power.

In 2019, the Social Democrats won narrowly with 17.7 per cent of the vote. Sarin attracted global headlines for her nightclubbing and leaked videos of parties in her official residence.

With 10 parties in the outgoing parliament and no minimum threshold for representation, a new 200-seat Eduskunta parliament may take weeks to form an administration.

Both of Marin’s challengers say the ruling five-party coalition has overseen uncontrolled public spending and promises to put an end to a cycle of borrowing if they win.

Her challenger Orpo has promised cuts to public finances, including housing benefits and business subsidies to fund services for the elderly.

“We want to increase the economy and boost economic growth,” Orpo said in reference to feeble economic forecasts for this year and inflation of 7 per cent in 2022.

The Finns, rebranded from the True Finns, vow to reduce non-EU immigration.

Purra said: “We want to heavily reduce immigration that is harmful for our country. The kind of immigration policy that Denmark has pursued for a while already and that Sweden wants to implement now under its new right-wing government is quite close to what the Finns party wants to do in Finland.”

Prime Minister Sanna Marin. Picture credit: Flickr

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