- Prime Minister Marin is trailing the right-wing National Coalition and the Finnish nationalist
- The National Coalition wants to cut government spending
- The Finns Anti-Immigration Party ranks second
HELSINKI (Reuters) – Finland’s right-wing opposition National Coalition party is on track to narrowly win Sunday’s parliamentary election in a tight three-way race, with 71% of the vote counted, public broadcaster Yle predicted.
The National Congress Party was seen winning 48 out of the 200 seats in Parliament, ahead of the nationalist Finns’ Party with 46 and Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s Social Democratic Party with 43, according to Elle’s forecast.
“My thought is, these are really huge numbers on screen…a powerful mandate for our politics,” NCP leader Petteri Orbo told Yle after seeing the prediction.
The leader of the largest group in parliament gets the first chance to form a coalition to gain a majority, which means Marin’s term as prime minister may be coming to an end.
Marin, at 37, the world’s youngest prime minister when she took office in 2019, is considered by fans around the world a millennial role model for progressive new leaders, but has faced criticism at home over her partying and her government’s public spending.
The NCP has led in opinion polls for nearly two years, although its lead has melted in recent months. She promised to reduce spending and halt the rise in public debt, which has reached just over 70% of gross domestic product since Marin took office in 2019.
Urbu Marin was accused of undermining Finland’s economic resilience at a time when Europe’s energy crisis, prompted by Russia’s war in Ukraine, has hit hard and the cost of living has soared.
Orpo said he would negotiate with all groups to gain a majority in parliament, while Marin said her Social Democrats might rule with the NCP but they would not switch to government with the Finns’ party.
Marin called the Finnish party “overtly racist” during a debate in January – an accusation the nationalist group rejected.
The main goal of the Finnish party is to reduce what leader Rikka Pjora calls “harmful” immigration from developing countries outside the EU. He also advocates austerity policies to curb deficit spending, a position he shares with the NCP.
Additional reporting by Anne Koranen, Essy Leto, Terry Solsvik and Attila Sir in Helsinki; Editing by Justina Pavlack, Frances Kerry, Philippa Fletcher, David Holmes and Andrew Heavens
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