Finland’s Social Democrats win slim victory as far right surges

15th April, 2019 10:56:36 printer

HELSINKI: Finland’s leftist Social Democrats won a razor-thin victory in Sunday’s general election, holding off the far-right Finns Party which surged on an anti-immigration agenda, reports AFP.

With 100 percent of ballots counted, the Social Democrats, led by 56-year-old former trade union boss Antti Rinne, picked up 40 seats in parliament, after campaigning on a ticket of fierce opposition to the austerity imposed by the previous centre-right government of Prime Minister Juha Sipila. Meanwhile the Finns Party, which won 39 seats, had focused almost entirely on an anti-immigration agenda under the leadership of hardline MEP Jussi Halla-aho, who also decried the “climate hysteria” of the other parties.

Only 0.2 percentage points separated the two parties—in a heavily splintered political landscape where the Social Democrats were the biggest party with 17.7 percent of votes.

They will head a government for the first time in 16 years, though it has been a junior coalition member since then.