- Prime Minister Marin’s right-wing National Alliance, nationalist Finns, lag behind
- The National Alliance wants to cut government spending
- The anti-immigration Finns Party comes in second place
HELSINKI, April 2 (Reuters) – Finland’s opposition right-wing National Alliance Party (NCP) is on course to win a tight three-way race in Sunday’s parliamentary election, with 71% of votes counted, public broadcaster Yle predicted.
The NCP won 48 of the 200 seats in parliament, the nationalist Finns Party 46 and Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s Social Democratic Party 43, Yle’s projection showed.
“My impression is that they are actually in large numbers on the screen … a strong mandate for our politics,” NCP president Petteri Orbo told Yle after seeing the forecast.
The leader of the largest group in parliament gets his first chance to form a coalition to secure a majority, meaning Marin’s tenure as prime minister could come to an end.
Marin, 37, the world’s youngest prime minister when he took office in 2019, is seen by fans around the world as a role model for progressive new leaders, but at home he has faced criticism for his party and government’s public spending.
The NCP led the polls for nearly two years, though its lead has eroded in recent months. Since taking office in 2019 Marin has pledged to rein in spending to more than 70% of GDP and halt the rise in public debt.
Orpo accused Marin of undermining Finland’s economic resilience at a time when Europe’s energy crisis, fueled by Russia’s war in Ukraine, has hit the country hard and raised the cost of living.
Orpo has said it will negotiate with all groups to secure a majority in parliament, while Marin said his Social Democrats could govern together with the NCP, but would not go into government with the Finns party.
Marin called the Finns party “blatantly racist” during a debate in January – a charge the nationalist group rejected.
The Finns Party’s main goal is to reduce what leader Rika Burra calls “harmful” immigration from developing countries outside the EU. It calls for austerity policies to curb deficit spending, a position it shares with the NCP.
Report by Anne Kauranen, Essie Lehto, Terje Solsvik and Attila Cesar in Helsinki; Editing by Justina Pavlak, Frances Kerry, Philippa Fletcher, David Holmes and Andrew Heavens
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