Published: Wed, April 17, 2019
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Finland: Leftist SDP leader Antti Rinne declares victory in Sunday’s election

Finland: Leftist SDP leader Antti Rinne declares victory in Sunday’s election

The electoral districts will announce the results of the election recount on Wednesday, 17 April.

Finland's leftist Social Democrat party (SDP) leader Antti Rinne has declared victory in Sunday's general election, after partial results showed his party winning by a tight margin with 17.8 percent.

As Finland's politicos digested Sunday's (April 14) vote, the big question on Monday (April 15) was what role the far-right anti-immigration Finns Party, which more than doubled its seats in parliament under the leadership of hardline nationalist Jussi Halla-aho, would play.

The Social Democrats are widely tipped to become the largest party, but under the country's proportional representation system, they may have to form a coalition with several other parties.

He told reporters on Sunday, "I could not expect a result like this, and no one could".

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Underscoring a growing confidence among far-right politicians in Europe, anti-immigration parties, including the Finns, have announced plans to join forces after the May 26 European Union election in a move that could give them a major say in how the continent is run.

The left-wing social democrats lead Finland's two main opinion polls with about 19 per cent of the vote, having campaigned against the austerity policies of Centre Party Prime Minister Juha Sipila and his Finance Minister Petteri Orpo - leader of the conservative National Coalition Party.

Voters in Finland are casting ballots in a parliamentary election after fierce debates over how best to tackle climate change dominated the campaign, even overshadowing topics like reforming the nation's generous welfare model.

The party is the only group in Finland - a country that has the highest air quality in the world, according to the World Health Organisation - to argue the next government should not speed up cutting carbon emissions to combat climate change.

A woman is seen at a polling station during voting for the parliamentary elections, in Helsinki, Finland. Most political parties support government actions to curb global warming.

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Some 36% of eligible voters have already cast their ballot in advance, choosing between 2,500 candidates from 19 political parties and movements for the Eduskunta legislature's 200 seats.

Some have blamed the shrinking lead on the inability of party leader Antti Rinne, a 56-year-old former trade union boss, to attract large numbers of new, younger voters.

The rest of the parties have garnered less than 10% of the vote each. It's kind of a climate election.

The Finns' stance on environmental policies, which includes an opposition to a proposed tax on meat consumption, appeals to rural voters in particular who fear soaring fuel costs and resent any efforts to change what they see as the traditional Finnish way of life.

Finland is boosting its nuclear energy production by launching a new plant next year and lawmakers last month voted to completely phase out burning coal by 2029.

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