Finland’s Prime Minister, Sanna Marin conceded defeat on Sunday, April 2 in the country’s parliamentary election as the opposition right-wing National Coalition Party (NCP) claimed victory in a tightly fought contest.
The NCP won 48 of the 200 seats in parliament, narrowly ahead of the nationalist Finns Party with 46 seats and Marin’s Social Democrats on 43 seats, justice ministry election data showed after all ballots counted.
“We got the biggest mandate,” NCP leader Petteri Orpo said in a speech to followers, vowing to “fix Finland” and its economy.
Orpo will get the first chance at forming a coalition to obtain majority in parliament as Marin’s era as prime minister is now expected to end.
“We have gained support, we have gained more seats (in parliament). That’s an excellent achievement, even if we did not finish first today,” the prime minister said in a speech to party members.
Marin aged 37 was the world’s youngest prime minister when she took office in 2019.
Despite enjoying support from foreigners, she has faced criticisms in her country, for her partying and public spending.
The NCP has led in polls for almost two years although its lead had melted away in recent months.
It has promised to curb spending and stop the rise of public debt, which has reached just over 70% of GDP since Marin took office in 2019.
Orpo accused Marin of eroding Finland’s economic resilience at a time when Europe’s energy crisis, driven by Russia’s war in Ukraine, has hit the country hard and the cost of living has increased.
Orpo had said he will negotiate with all groups to obtain a majority in parliament, while Marin had said her Social Democrats may govern with the NCP but will not go into government with the Finns Party.
Marin’s major foreign policy achievement was her push, along with President Sauli Niinisto, for the country to make a policy U-turn by seeking NATO membership in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
That process is now almost complete, with Helsinki expected to join within days after all the Western defense alliance’s 30 members approved the accession.