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Election in Finland: Left party declined to win the election

Chairman of the Social Democratic Party, Antti Rinneimage rights

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Antti Rinne of the Social Democratic Party could be the next Prime Minister

Finland is leaning to the left in Sunday's elections, with Social Democrats leading the elections.

However, with several parties, including the right-wing Finns, pushing for second place, their ability to govern could be curtailed and the coalition's construction set to begin.

How did we get here?

The government of former Prime Minister Juha Sipila resigned last month for failing to reach a key political goal in social and health care reform. Its center party has been in a center-right coalition government since the last parliamentary elections in 2015.

Concerned about the expensive welfare system of Finland in the face of an aging population, Mr Sipila made the fight against sovereign debt one of the main objectives of his government. He introduced planning reforms he hoped would save more than a decade up to € 3 billion (€ 2.6 billion).

More about the Finnish welfare experiment:

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media labelingFinland's Basic Income Survey

Indeed, the introduction of austerity measures – such as reducing social benefits and freezing pensions – led to Finland reducing its national debt for the first time in a decade last year, but the reforms were politically controversial.

The Social Democratic Party, a center-left party closely linked to the Finnish unions, has now gained popularity.

Why did this happen now?

Polls ahead of Sunday's vote showed Social Democrats pledging to boost Finland's welfare system by a few percentage points. The party has been in the lead for almost a year.

The leader of the party, Antti Rinne, previously described the policy of Mr. Sipila as unfair and said that taxes should be increased to combat inequality.

"We need to broaden our tax base and we need to strengthen it," Rinne told Reuters recently, adding that the move would mean a "big political change" for Finland.

One of Mr. Rinne's promises was to increase the state pension by € 100 for those who took € 1,400 a month home. This would help him protect "more than 55,000 pensioners from poverty".

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The aging population of Finland is putting pressure on their social systems

Balancing taxes and expenditures is problematic for any government, and Finland's income tax rate of 51.6% is one of the highest in Europe.

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Finland's "tax wedge" – the difference between the employee's wages and the employer's costs – has been greater than the average of the top industrialized countries in recent years. ,

However, a survey commissioned by the tax authority in 2017 revealed that 79% of Finns surveyed were satisfied with their taxes.

Why is the Finnish welfare system a problem?

Like many industrial nations, Finland has an aging population that is putting its social systems under financial pressure.

With an increasing number of people living longer in retirement, the cost of providing retirement and healthcare benefits may increase. These increased costs are paid by controlling the working-age population, which represents a smaller percentage of the population than in previous decades.

In 2018, over 65s accounted for 21.4% of the Finnish population, along with Germany the fourth highest in Europe – with only a share of Portugal, Greece and Italy, according to Eurostat.

Finland's welfare system is also generous in its provisions, which makes it relatively expensive. Reform attempts have plagued the Finnish government for years.

In February of this year, the nation's care for the elderly returned to the top of the political agenda. According to reports that alleged neglect in nursing homes could have led to injuries or death, the Finnish radio station YLE.

  • € 20 million Costs for the government

  • 8.1% unemployment rate

  • 5,503,347 Finnish population


What is the likely outcome of the vote?

Voting will run from 09:00 local time (06:00 GMT) to 20:00. The first results are expected shortly afterwards.

The Social Democrats are widely inclined to become the largest party, but within the proportional representation system in Finland they may need to form a coalition with several other parties.

While the Finnish party has seen growing support, many other parties do not want to work with them.


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