Finland is holding a general election this Sunday, which may lead to a new prime minister and ruling coalition government.
The last parliamentary election in April 2019 saw Antti Rinne being elected prime minister, heading a new red-green government. However, Rinne was replaced by Sanna Marin before the end of the year due to some internal disagreements with the Centre Party. The Centre Party underwent a leadership change which resulted in a historic all-female government, with four of the five party leaders under the age of 35, emphasising intersectional feminism in government policymaking. In 2020, there was yet another leadership change in the Centre Party, but the government remained composed of five women, which is unprecedented in Finland and globally as well.
The general election will take place on 2 April to fill 200 seats in the Eduskunta, the Finnish Parliament, including a representative from the autonomous Åland Islands. The Åland Islands also have their own small parliament in Mariehamn to govern devolved issues. Early voting already started on 22 March at various locations across the country, and at Finnish embassies. As of the morning of Monday, 27 March, around 25.9 per cent of people have already cast their ballots ahead of election day. Unlike some other Nordic and Baltic countries, there is no minimum vote threshold for parties to gain parliamentary seats, but parties that receive more than two per cent of the national vote qualify for state funding in the future.
In the previous 2019 election, a total of nine political parties were elected to parliament, representing a wide spectrum of political ideologies from the Left Alliance to the far-right populist Finns Party. Since then, there has been some division within parliament, with one Finns Party member expelled for making racist comments and forming a new independent parliamentary group, and a National Coalition Party member losing support from his party’s leadership following allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards young women, leading him to also become an independent candidate.
In the 2019 election, the Social Democrats, Finns Party, and National Coalition Party were the top three parties, with a one-seat difference between each of them. The upcoming election is expected to be just as close, with these parties still polling very close.
Right-Wing Government Most Likely to be Formed
According to recent polls, the Finns Party is predicted to win the most seats in the upcoming election, potentially leading to the formation of a nationalist right-wing government for the first time in Finland, with support from the National Coalition Party, Christian Democrats, and possibly Liike Nyt. This would obviously be a welcome development for the Hungarian administration, as it would likely obtain yet another ally in the EU regarding tough immigration policies.
Several parties have ruled out in advance working with the Finns Party, including the Social Democrats, the Greens, the Left Alliance, and the Swedish People’s Party. If the Finns Party cannot form a government, a blue-red coalition may emerge, including the National Coalition Party, the Social Democrats, the Swedish People’s Party, and either the Greens or the Left Alliance. The Christian Democrats could also have a token minister in this government. If the Centre Party decides not to join any government, a rainbow coalition may remain the only option.
The Finnish nationalist party, the Finns Party, has stated that they will reduce immigration levels if they win the upcoming elections. The party’s leader, Jussi Halla-aho, has criticised the current government’s immigration policies and called for tighter controls on immigration. Halla-aho argues that Finland needs to reduce the number of immigrants to ensure that they can properly integrate into Finnish society.
The Finns Party has previously been accused of promoting xenophobia and racism. However, Halla-aho denies these allegations and says that the party’s focus is on reducing immigration and preserving Finnish culture. The party’s stance on immigration is expected to be a major issue in the upcoming elections.