Finland: what does the conservatives’ victory portend?
The conservative National Coalition Party Kokoomus has won a narrow victory in Finland’s parliamentary elections. It secured 20.8 percentage points, just ahead of the right-wing populist Finns Party with 20.1 per cent and Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s social democratic SDP with 19.9 percent of the vote. The key issues in the election campaign were public finances and debt. Europe’s press assesses the outcome.
Cutting back is popular
A majority of the electorate voted for austerity, says Yle:
“The conservative National Coalition Party advocated cuts in the election campaign. The election results show that the national debt is the biggest concern for more than a fifth of Finns. The flip side of the austerity policy an inevitable reduction in state benefits and tighter living standards for Finns who live off social security. ... For the first time the right-wing populist party The Finns has secured over 20 percent of the vote. ... The party’s line on economic policy is not very clear, but it promises to reduce unnecessary expenditures. The party is more willing to accept a shrinking of the Finnish economy than to bring in workers from abroad.”
The next weeks will be tense
The contrasting positions on fiscal policy will make coalition building difficult, Turun Sanomat explains:
“There are major differences over the conclusions to be drawn from the current situation. The right demands adjustment measures, the left rejects cuts in social security and social benefits. ... This spring remains very tense politically, because the negotiations to form a government are expected to be difficult. None of the parties has won a mandate with an overwhelming majority, and at least two of the three major parties will have to find a consensus after the election. The parties have already ruled out [certain] potential government partners, so the options are becoming limited.”