Finland's Social Democrats win first place in advance voting

Remigio Civitarese
Aprile 17, 2019

He called on them to "take the Finnish society toward a sustainable climate, social and economic policies".

Social Democratic Party Chairman Antti Rinne attends parliamentary elections debate in Helsinki, Finland, April 10, 2019.

Finns can expect a broad, ineffective coalition government for the next four years as the Social Democrats, who narrowly won weekend elections, focus on keeping the surging anti-immigration populists out, analysts said.

In Sweden, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven has clung to power after his Social Democrats suffered their worst parliamentary election result in more than a century last autumn, enlisting the support of two liberal parties with a pledge to enact some right-wing policies.

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

Finnish governments, which need 101 seats, are usually coalitions and the Social Democrats will be leading their first in 16 years.

Mr Rinne, a 56-year-old former union leader, said:"For the first time in a long time, Social Democrats are the largest party".

Polls show the party ending up in second or third place, meaning it could play a significant role in the next government, which in Finland is typically a coalition of three or four parties. He may approach the National Coalition party, which won 38 seats.

Outgoing Prime Minister Juha Sipila's Center Party and the populist Finns Party were close with 15.4% and 15.1% respectively.

Officials said some 300,000 advance votes remained uncounted when polls closed at 1700GMT.

While Mr Halla-aho said he would be interested in the post of interior minister, in charge of immigration, he was also upbeat in interviews at the prospect of being in opposition.

"He said" 'That's a big question for me. "The Social Democratic Party's values are very important, it's the glue that will hold the government together".

The Finns Party party has also denounced the "climate hysteria" of Finland's other major parties and says citizens should not have to pay for any more measures to combat climate change.

Some 1.5 million Finns have already cast their ballots during a week of advance voting this month.

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Other proposals include increasing the number of electric vehicles on Finland's roads and reducing meat consumption through taxes or serving more vegetarian food as part of publicly funded meals in places like schools and the military. It's kind of a climate election.

"It's clear a vast majority of Finns is hoping that the new parliament takes climate action", Emma Kari, a Greens lawmaker, told the AP as she campaigned on Saturday.

Voters were choosing between 2,500 candidates from 19 political parties and movements for the Eduskunta legislature's 200 seats.

The election followed a campaign in which concerns about climate change even overshadowed the issue of how to reform the nation's generous welfare model.

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