4. April 2023
Finland went to the polls last Sunday to elect a new parliament, with the opposition National Coalition Party (NCP) and its top candidate Petteri Orpo and the right-wing populist Finns Party increasing their vote share and seat numbers. NCP and the Finns Party were both in opposition during the previous election period, and it is often typical that the major opposition parties make gains. The centre-right NCP won Sunday’s parliamentary elections (20.8%), with the nationalist-populist Finns Party in second place (20.1%). Behind them, only coming in as third, were Prime Minister Sanna Marin‘s Social Democrats (SDP) (19.9%). The (liberal) Centre Party (11.3%), the Left Alliance (7.1%) and Green Party (7%) all suffered large losses after their participation in the current five-party coalition, with leaders of all three saying, that it would be difficult for them to go back into government after these election results. Centre Party leader Annika Saarikko explained that her party will join the opposition after its second consecutive electoral defeat. The party lost eight seats in the 200-seat parliament, dropping from 31 to 23. That is down from 55 two decades ago, when it was the largest party in the legislature.
NCP’s Petteri Orpo faces now a difficult task forming a government in the new parliament, with his first job to put out feelers to each of the parties to find any common ground and to explore the prospect of drafting a solid government programme. Only after that, he will start negotiations with his preferred coalition partners and set out a plan for the next four years. The biggest partner could therefore be either the SDP or the Finns Party. Forming a coalition with Marin’s SDP could be difficult, given the parties’ wildly divergent views on state finances and the need for budget cuts. However, Finnish policy makers have a rather pragmatic approach when it comes to forming a government.
Interesting to note is also, that female candidates were the most popular in Sunday’s parliamentary election, led by Riikka Purra, chair of the nationalist Finns Party. She collected the fourth-highest vote tally in Finnish history. There are currently rumours, that Sanna Marin, who got the second biggest share of personal votes after all, could become the next top candidate of the European Socialists for the next elections of the European Parliament in May next year. In any case, interesting times ahead…not only in Finland!
RPP will be observing the further development in Finnish politics. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at any time.