Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin faces tough re-election bid

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin addresses supporters during a campaign rally in Helsinki on April 1. (Photo: Sergei Grits/AP)

On Sunday, Finns voted in a hotly contested parliamentary election that could cost Prime Minister Sanna Marin her position due to voter anxiety over the future of extensive public services during an economic slump.

Protracted coalition talks will likely follow the election, although the party that wins on Sunday will have the first opportunity to form a government.

Marin, 37, is viewed by fans worldwide as a millennial role model for progressive new leaders. She remains immensely popular among many Finns, especially young moderates, but she has alienated some conservatives with her extravagant spending on pensions and education, which they view as irresponsible.

"The right-wing offers an alternative that makes life miserable for all of us, cuts services, and reduces the means of subsistence for the poorest," Marin addressed his supporters on Saturday. We have the option of selecting a superior alternative.

Opinion surveys indicate that the Social Democrats, the largest party in the outgoing coalition government, are neck-and-neck with the conservative National Coalition Party and the nationalist Finns Party. All three parties are predicted to receive between 18.7 and 19.2% of the vote.

In opinion polls, the National Coalition has led for nearly two years, although its margin has diminished recently. It had pledged to reduce spending and halt the growth of the public debt, which had risen to over 70% of GDP since 2019 when Marin assumed office.

The coalition accuses Marin of degrading Finland's economic resilience at a time when Europe's energy crisis, precipitated by Russia's war in Ukraine, has severely impacted the country, and the cost of living has risen.

Watershed U-Turn

Martti Haikio, a 73-year-old history professor, stated, "Taking on additional debt cannot continue for the next 30 years." "This has been going on for thirty years – more debt, more debt, more debt – and good services are fine, but paid for with borrowed money."

The primary objective of the Finns Party is to decrease what its leader, Riikka Purra, terms "harmful" immigration from developing nations outside the European Union.

Voting begins at 9:00 a.m. (0600 GMT) and stays open until 8 p.m. Shortly after that, partial results from early voting will be released.

According to figures from the Justice Ministry, almost 1.7 million or 40.5% of eligible voters cast ballots during the week-long early voting session that concluded on Tuesday.

Social Democrats in Marin believe that economic growth will help curb the development of the state debt, and if the budget needs to be balanced, they would instead consider tax increases than spending cuts.

Yet, this expansion is not imminent. The economy of Finland, a country with a population of 5.5 million, fared better than most European nations during the epidemic. Still, growth fell to 1.9% last year, and the country is forecast to enter a moderate recession this year, while inflation peaked in December at 9.1%.

The most noteworthy of Marin's foreign policy efforts have been her and President Sauli Niinisto's campaign for Finland to do a policy U-turn by seeking NATO membership in response to security concerns arising from Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

This procedure is nearly complete, with Helsinki poised to join within days after all 30 members of the Western defence alliance approve its membership.

Publish : 2023-04-02 09:32:00

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