In the parliamentary elections in Finland The Social Democrats have been able to prevail over the chairman Antti Rinne with a narrow lead. According to preliminary figures, the party comes to 17.7 percent of the vote and thus to 40 of the 200 seats in the Finnish parliament. The preliminary calculations are completed, the Finnish Ministry of Justice said. The official final result should be published by Wednesday.
Rinne explained that his party had become the strongest force in Finland for the first time since 1999. He wants to form a government by the end of May.
In second and third place came the right-wing populist party The Finns (17.5 percent) and the conservative National Collection Party (17.0 percent) with 39 and 38 mandates. The former Prime Minister Juha Sipilä and his Liberal Center Party (13.8 percent) came with strong losses and 31 seats only in fourth place.
None of the parties achieved a fifth of the votes – this is unusual in Finland. The provisional 17.7 percent are nevertheless a plus for the Social Democrats election 2015 by 1.2 percentage points. Most recently, they won a parliamentary election in 1999 and, by 2003, have been the prime minister for the last time.
No majority for left government coalition
Now, Rinne is likely to look for a majority-capable government. For the 56-year-old, this will not be a simple undertaking: despite the gains made by his Social Democrats and the Greens and the Left, a left coalition government would have no majority. Rinne should also approach one of the other major parties, probably at Sipila's center. An alliance with the right-wing populists is not excluded, but is unlikely.
The strong performance of the right-wing populists with their provisional 17.5 percent is also interesting with regard to the European elections on 26 May: The Finnish party is next to the German AfD and the Italian Lega to the parties in the EU Parliament, a new alliance of right-wing populists want to form. Finland will also be rotating to the EU Presidency on 1 July. However, instead of dealing with EU issues, the Finns in the election campaign mainly dealt with a failed health care and social reform, climate change and dealing with the neighbor Russia.
The leader of The Finns was astonished at the good performance of his right-wing populist party. "I've never expected such a result. Honestly, none of us expected that result," said Jussi Halla-aho. He spoke of a "day of joy".
36 percent of voters voted prematurely
The turnout was 72 percent. In 2015, it had amounted to 70.1 percent. On Sunday, slightly fewer Finns cast their votes than before the actual election date. More than 36 percent of the nearly 4.5 million Finns eligible to vote, more than ever before, voted ahead of schedule.
After the failure of the health care and social reform Sote, the Cabinet of Sipilä resigned in early March. The election date had been established for a long time. In the election four years ago, Sipilä's liberals had become the strongest force at 21.1 percent, after which they had entered into a center-right coalition with the conservatives and right-wing populists. In 2017, the populists split up: Foreign Minister Timo Soini's Blue Future party remained in power, while the Finnish party led by its new chairman, Jussi Halla-aho, went into opposition.
Sipilä: "The center is the biggest loser of this election"
Sipilä was clearly contrite: "The center is the biggest loser of this election, which is a big disappointment for us," he said early in the evening. But the Liberal did not want to say whether his party would change to the opposition.
The Greens also put in more mandates than the left. "This is the best result for the Greens ever," said Green Party top candidate Pekka Haavisto already after the first forecast of the evening.