Finnish conservatives win election in tight three-way race

Chairman of the National Coalition Party Petteri Orpo arrives at the Parliament House during the parliamentary election in Helsinki, Finland, Sunday, April 2, 2023. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
By Dénes Albert
3 Min Read

The center-right National Coalition Party won Finland’s parliamentary election on Sunday as it narrowly beat the right-wing populist Finns Party and the left-wing Social Democratic Party led by current Prime Minister Sanna Marin.

“We got the biggest mandate,” said Finnish conservative party leader Petteri Orpo late on Sunday after Marin conceded defeat.

As expected, Sunday’s Finnish parliamentary election saw the three major parties go head-to-head in a nail-biting vote four years after the Social Democrats led by Sanna Marin beat the populist Finns Party and the anti-immigration National Coalition.

This time, the National Coalition Party secured 20.8 percent, while the Finns Party came in second with 20.1 percent and Sanna Marin’s center-left party came in third with 19.9 percent of the vote.

What happens now?

The result means a likely change in leadership, with Orpo now having the opportunity to form a coalition government.

The Scandinavian country is currently led by a five-party, left-wing coalition that is unlikely to remain in its present form. The big question is whether the Social Democratic Party can stay in power. Its two largest coalition partners, the Center and the Green parties, have lost significant support since the last election, and the smallest coalition party, the Swedish People’s Party, may not even enter parliament.

Analysts point out that without current Prime Minister Sanna Marin, the ruling party’s support will be significantly lower, and this may not be enough to form a new government.

The current prime minister of the country of 5.5 million people is not your typical head of government. She has previously spoken openly about being raised by two women and becoming the youngest-ever Finnish head of government at the age of 34.

Marin has been tested by the epidemic, the war in Ukraine, and the process of joining NATO, as well as by scandals within her party. However, her popularity remains undiminished despite the likelihood of a change of government.

Conservative leader Orpo now has two real choices to form a 100-seat majority in the Finnish parliament: entering a coalition with the right-wing Finns party, whose MPs are notoriously contrarian and also somewhat inexperienced, or with Marin’s Social Democrats, although Marin is not keen on the latter.

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