Opposition wins Finland local elections ahead of PM’s party

Finland’s opposition conservative party, the National Coalition, remained the largest party in terms of voter support in Sunday’s local elections. Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s ruling Social Democrats placed second.

According to the preliminary results published on Monday, with 100 percent of the ballots counted, the National Coalition had taken 21.4 percent of the vote, followed by the Social Democrats with 17.7 percent.

This year’s election was seen as the first test for the 35-year-old Marin, who took office in December 2019.

The vote was held to elect local or municipal councilors. The elections were postponed from April due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The opposition Finns Party strengthened its support across the country to 14.5 percent, but still remained in fourth place, failing to dislodge the Center Party as they had hoped.

The centrist government member Center Party won 14.9 percent.

In the capital Helsinki, the order of the top three parties remained unchanged. The National Coalition got 25.7 percent of the vote. The Greens finished second with 19.8 percent and the Social Democrats third with 14.4 percent.

The result means that conservative politician Juhana Vartiainen will be the next mayor of Helsinki.

In terms of seats won in the country’s over 300 municipality councils, the Center Party remained the largest with 2,448 seats. The National Coalition won 1,554 seats and the Social Democrats 1,449.

According to the Ministry of Justice, voter turnout was only 55.1 percent this year, the lowest since 1945.

Teemu Luukka, an analyst of the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, noted that the result of the Social Democratic Party was historically low, but Prime Minister Marin herself could claim a good result in her hometown Tampere and her position is not endangered in the party.

The current Finnish government coalition comprises the Social Democratic Party, the Center Party, the Green League, the Left Alliance and the Swedish People’s Party. The Finns Party, the conservative National Coalition Party, the Christian Democrats and the Movement Now are in opposition.

In Finland, municipalities have taxation right on income and are in charge of services, such as education and health and social services.