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Finland, Having Cleared The Final NATO Hurdle, Will Hold Elections

From left, Finns Party leader Riikka Purra, Prime Minister Sanna Marin and National Coalition Party leader Petteri Orpo before an election debate on March 29, 2023 [Lehtikuva/Markku Ulander via Reuters]
From left, Finns Party leader Riikka Purra, Prime Minister Sanna Marin and National Coalition Party leader Petteri Orpo before an election debate on March 29, 2023 [Lehtikuva/Markku Ulander via Reuters]

Finland, which shares a long border with Russia, will vote on a new government on Sunday as it prepares to join NATO.

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Turkey ratified the Nordic nation’s membership on Thursday, becoming the alliance’s 30th member to do so.

Will Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s Social Democratic Party, which began the membership process last year, lead the 5.5 million-person country into the world’s largest military alliance?

Is Marin still as well-liked as she was in 2019, when she became the world’s youngest leader at the age of 34?

Here’s what you should know:

How is the government formed?

Thousands of candidates from 22 political parties are vying for 200 seats in Finland’s one-chamber parliament, the Eduskunta.

Four groups tend to dominate elections: the Social Democrats, Centre Party, National Coalition Party and Finns Party.

Here is where eight parties lie on the political spectrum:

  • Social Democratic Party of Finland (SDP) – Marin’s centre-left party, now the largest in parliament.
  • Centre Party (KESK) – Finland’s fourth-largest party with centrist policies.
  • National Coalition Party (KOK) – The main opposition group centre-right party, also described as conservative-liberal.
  • Finns Party (PS) – Right-wing populists seeking cuts to immigration.
  • Left Alliance (VAS) – Left-wing party that has faced divisions over Finland’s NATO membership.
  • Green League (VIHR) – Environmentalists that prioritise welfare and equality.
  • Swedish People’s Party of Finland (RKP) – Party representing the minority of Swedish speakers in Finland.
  • Christian Democrats (KD) – Party supporting “Christian values”.

The National Coalition, Social Democrats, and Finns Party were neck and neck in the latest opinion poll published by the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat.

The party with the most seats in parliament may form the next government.

In order to do so, it must form a coalition with other parties and win at least 101 seats. The winning party’s leader is appointed Prime Minister.

 

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