Finland: Centre Party wins April election
April 29, 2015
On 19 April, Finns went to the polls to elect the 200 member of the Finnish Parliament. The Centre Party, led by Juha Sipila came in first with 21.1% of the popular vote translating into 49 seats, 51 seats short of a majority. The runner up Finns party, headed by Timo Soini, received 17.6% of the popular vote and claimed 38 seats. Meanwhile, the two main parties of the incumbent coalition, the National Coalition and the Social Democratic parties, received 37 and 34 seats respectively.
Finns were motivated by three years of economic recession coming into this election. Standard and Poor’s cut Finland’s rating last year amid growth concerns and political indecisiveness. Rising labor costs have eroded Finland’s competitiveness, while exports have also contracted as a result of declines in the forestry industry and the folding of telecommunication giant Nokia. Regional security concerns have also beleaguered Finnish Voters as Russian aggression in the region escalates. Sipila is tasked with forming a coalition that will face these challenges. While details are still forthcoming, Sipila has vowed to make repairing the economy his primary objective, while balancing public finances is of secondary importance.
It remains to be seen who Sipilä will select to form his coalition government. An inclusion of the runner up Eurosceptic Finns Party is deemed likely by analysts. The party, who has favored abandoning the European Union in the past, has voiced opposition to Greek bailouts and such a coalition would complicate the already heated discussions concerning this issue.
Author: Robert Hill, Economist