Finns Vote in Close Election 

Finns cast ballots on Sunday in a closely contested parliamentary election that could cost left-wing Prime Minister Sanna Marin power amid voter concern over the future of generous public services at a time of economic downturn.

No party is seen as holding a decisive lead and the election is likely to be followed by lengthy coalition talks, although whichever party wins on Sunday will have the first attempt at forming a government.

Voting began at 9 a.m. (0600 GMT) and closes at 8 p.m. (1700 GMT). Partial results from early voting will be published shortly afterwards.

Marin, 37, is seen by fans around the world as a millennial role model for progressive new leaders and remains very popular among many Finns, particularly young moderates, but she has antagonized some conservatives with lavish spending on pensions and education that they see as irresponsible.

“She [Marin] has been like a rock star, but she has been very nervous,” said retired graduate engineer Matti Valonen referring to Marin’s performances in debates leading up to the election.

Opinion polls show Marin’s Social Democrats, the biggest party in the outgoing coalition government, in a dead heat with the rightist National Coalition Party and the nationalist Finns Party, with all three seen winning some 18.7-19.8% of ballots and so reliant on other smaller parties to form a government.

The National Coalition has led in polls for almost two years although its lead has melted away in recent months. It has promised to curb spending and stop the rise of public debt, which has reached just over 70% of GDP since Marin took office in 2019.

The grouping accuses Marin of eroding Finland’s economic resilience at a time when Europe’s energy crisis, driven by Russia’s war in Ukraine, has hit the country hard and the cost of living has increased.

The Finns Party, too, calls for austerity but its main goal is to reduce what its leader Riikka Purra has called “harmful” immigration from developing countries outside the European Union.

Article by VidWorld

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