02 April 2023

Finns vote in tight election as Sanna Marin seeks second term as PM

02 April 2023

Polling stations have opened in Finland, where three parties are expected to be in a tight race as Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s Social Democrats fight to secure a second term running the government.

More than 2,400 candidates from 22 parties are vying for the 200 seats in the Nordic country’s parliament, the Eduskunta.

Ms Marin, who at 37 is one of Europe’s youngest leaders, has received praise for her cabinet’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and for her prominent role, along with President Sauli Niinisto, in advocating for Finland’s successful application to join Nato.

Her vocal support of Ukraine in the last year has increased her international visibility.

While campaigning on Saturday ahead of the vote, she said: “Of course we hope that the Social Democrats will win this election… It’s so important because we want to stay an open society. We also want to work together internationally. We want to build a better, green, sustainable future where people have the same opportunities in life.

Ms Marin remains popular at home but her party’s views on the Finnish economy, which emerged as the main campaign theme, were being challenged by two main opponents: the centre-right National Coalition Party led by Petteri Orpo and the right-wing populist The Finns party, which is led by Riikka Purra.

Also campaigning on Saturday, Mr Orpo said: “The most important thing in the next government is to fix our economy, push economic growth, balance public economy. And the second very important issue is to build up Nato-Finland.”

Ms Purra stressed that The Finns would focus on shaping Finland’s migration, climate, criminal and energy policies if the populist party becomes a partner in the next government.

“We also want to tighten up our attitude towards the European Union,” she said ahead of the vote.

Recent polls have indicated each of the three parties could take about 20% of the vote. If that happens, no party would be in position to form a government alone; whichever one wins the most votes is expected to begin talks on forming a governing coalition.

Finland, which is expected to join Nato in the coming weeks, is a European Union member with a population of 5.5 million.

Polls close at 5pm local time, with initial results expected by midnight.

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