In brief

Finland: Social Democrats win, Swedish party well placed to join new majority

Eurosceptic, anti-immigration party becomes largest in right-wing bloc

Antti Riine (centre) celebra la victòria de l'SDP.
Antti Riine (centre) celebra la victòria de l'SDP. Author: SDP
The Social Democratic Party (SDP) won the Finnish legislative election with 40 seats out of a total 200 in Parliament. Social Democrat leader Antti Rinne is ready to start coalition talks with other parties, as at least three different parties will be needed to form a new majority. Swedish-speaking and Aland parties may have options to join the new majority, as the Swedish People’s Party (SFP) and its allied Aland Coalition captured 10 seats —the same number they had so far.

The Finns’ Party (eurosceptic, anti-immigration right-wing) emerged second, with 39 seats, in a stronger position after having overcome a sever crisis suffered in 2017 that led to a split. It is now the largest party in the right-wing bloc, ahead of the right-of-centre Party of the National Coalition (KOK), which secured 38 seats.

Incumbent Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s Centre Party suffered a major setback, losing 18 of 49 it had so far.

Centre-left Greens (VIHR) won 20 seats (up from 15 in 2015) while socialist Left Alliance captured 16 (up from 12).

Government formation

Tough talks for government formation are expected, according to Finnish outlets.

One possibility is for the Social Democrats to form a big, centrist coalition with KOK and the Greens. The SFP and the Centre Party could join the group, although Sipilä’s party’s poor electoral performance suggests it could choose to join the ranks of opposition instead.

But Social Democratic chairman and former union leader Antti Rinne said that he could seek to form a more left-leaning coalition with the Greens and the Left Alliance. However, the bloc has a mere 76 seats, so it would be necessary to get support from another party. The Centre Party could be the most natural ally for that.

So far, the Finnish government was made up by a coalition of the Centre Party, KOK and a Finns’ Party splinter group that was left with no seats in Sunday’s election.

A Sámi MP, Heikki Autto, was elected in the ranks of KOK. Autto supports a controversial project to build a railroad between Norway and Finland that will cross Sámi territory, which is opposed by Finland’s Sámi Parliament and the Saami Council.