Campaign polls have shown Marin, who took office in 2019 as the world’s youngest prime minister at 34, is Finland’s most popular prime minister this century. However, the latest polls in Suomi on Thursday put his centre-left Social Democratic Party (SDP) in third place behind the anti-immigration and nationalist Finnish Party and the centre-right National Coalition, which held on with a weak margin. However, the three parties did not obtain 20% of the votes. “It’s a very exciting situation and at the moment it’s hard to say which party will win on election day,” Finnish political analyst Tuomo Turja told AFP.The first seat of the far-right Finnish Party and far-right prime minister would be an exceptional case in Finland, even though the party has served in government before. At present, according to observers, the party is expected to exceed its record of 19% of the vote in the 2011 elections.The SDP, traditionally the largest of the eight main parties in parliament, is vying for the top job and is trying to form a government. Marin leads a centre-left coalition made up of the Social Democrats, Centre, Greens, Left Alliance and Swedish People’s Party of Finland.
While some see her as a strong leader who ably handled the COVID-19 pandemic and pushed the country’s NATO membership process forward, others say her drinking scandals gone and her “juvenile behavior” makes her unfit for the job. “Sanna Marin is a controversial character. She has fans like a rock star, but on the other hand, she has a lot of people who don’t support her,” Marco Junkkari, a journalist with the Helsingin Sanomat daily, told AFP. . .The leader of the conservative opposition National Coalition, Petteri Orpo, has focused his campaign on the economy, accusing the government of irresponsibly increasing public debt. “The outlook is very bad. Our public finances will fall sharply, which will lead to the erosion of the foundations of our welfare society,” Orpo noted in an interview with a French agency. Finland’s debt-to-GDP ratio has fallen from 64% in 2019 to 73%, and the National Coalition intends to address this by cutting spending by €6 billion.Support for Finland’s populist party has skyrocketed since the summer of 2022, helped by rising prices for energy and other goods in the country. This eurosceptic party wants a hard line on immigration, pointing to neighboring Sweden’s crime problems and blaming the massive influx of migrants. “We don’t want to follow Sweden’s path. We see the consequences of a harmful immigration policy,” Finnish Party leader Riikka Purra said. Although the party operated under a centre-right government in 2015, it later split into two factions, one made up of extremists and the other of moderates.
Only the extremists, who became the second largest party in the 2019 elections, remained in parliament. The Finnish party sees leaving the EU as its long-term goal and wants to postpone Finland’s carbon neutrality target to 2035.In any case, the negotiations on a coalition government will be tense. A former heavyweight in Finnish politics, the Center Party lost its status as the largest party in 2015 to record low support after nearly eight years in governments from both right and left. The party does not want to stay in the current Marin coalition, particularly because of the conflict with the Greens. Without the support of the centrists and the SDP, it will be difficult for the National Coalition to obtain a majority. And Marin has ruled out the possibility of forming a government with what she calls the “openly racist” Party of Finns.On the other hand, a right-wing government with the National Coalition and the Finnish Party can be formed in Suomi. While Orpo said they “have their differences” when it comes to EU, migration and climate goals, there are “many things we have in common”, such as the vision of economic policy.
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