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Europe’s far-right headwinds blew in Finland’s latest election

Sunday’s election in Finland was a close race, with surprises for both the winners and the losers, but overall continued a trend of far-right governments taking the reins in Europe.

Sanna Marin, who in 2019 was elected the social democratic prime minister, was – at the young age of 34 – one of the world’s youngest politicians to hold such a position. Political analysts say her mandate saw significant successes, such as the implementation of policies to fight COVID and pushing Finland’s aspirations to join NATO, accomplished in part by rallying great public support.

However, on election night, albeit by a small margin, voters demanded change, resulting in Marin losing her position as premier. Finnish media blamed her loss on voters identifying her as polarizing and failing to understand their needs.

“This celebration of democracy is always a glorious thing,” said Marin after conceding the election, adding: “This is a great day because we did well in this election.”

The National Coalition Party and its leader, Petteri Orpo, 53, emerged as the winners in the election. Orpo described the results as a big win and thanked his supporters, saying: “Our message has gotten through, the support is there, and Finns believe in the National Coalition Party.”

Riikka Purra, leader of the Finns Party, also had a historic win, earning more votes than any other woman candidate in the past 75 years. “We’re still challenging to be number one, but seven more seats is an excellent result,” she proudly acknowledged.

Both the National Coalition Party and the Finns Party are considered conservative or far-right, which is an unusual political combination for a Scandinavian nation. However, as neighboring Sweden months ago also showed support for far-right political blocs, it is clear that there are new political winds blowing in Europe’s most Nordic nations.

The election results in Finland reflect a continuing trend of rising far-right governments and voters in Europe, confirmed by recent elections in Italy, Spain, Poland, and Hungary. However, unlike those countries, Finland has a lower economic burden and non-EU migration.

The election results notwithstanding, major compromises will be necessary, regardless of which parties make up the government.

Finland’s representation system reserves the right of the largest party elected to seek or form a government. Orpo will seek support from other parties to form a government, but potential coalition partners like the Greens and the Center party have ruled out participating in any far-right government.

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