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Anti-Austerity Social Democrats Defeat Far-Right in Finland's General Election

The left-wing Social Democrats (SDP) have defeated the far-right Finns Party in yesterday’s Finnish General Election with the Finns expected to now be out of government, having sat in coalition with the Centre Party and National Coalition Party.

Standing on a programme heavily opposed to austerity, the Social Democrats won the slenderest of victories, taking 40 seats and the far-right taking 39 seats. The vote share for the Finns fell from 17.65% in 2015 to 17.5% in 2019 while the Social Democrats vote share rose from 16.51% in 2015 to 17.7% in 2019.

There are 200 seats in the Finnish parliament and most elections end in a coalition government. The Social Democrats will be forming a government for the first time in 16 years and are expected to approach the National Coalition Party who won 38 seats.

In many ways comparable to the Labour Party, the Social Democrats are a member of the Socialist International and the Party of European Socialists and are led by ex-trade unionist Antti Rinne. Central to the election were issues surrounding immigration and the future of the welfare state which the SDP have pledged to preserve.

Antti Rinne | SDP

Like many recent election campaigns involving the far-right across Europe, the election campaign was an ill-tempered affair, with a huge spike in aggressive rhetoric and campaigning. Late last month, Left Alliance candidate Suldaan Said Ahmed was assaulted in an Islamophobic attack, an incident that was followed by an attempted attack on Foreign Minister Timo Soini by a member of the far-right Soldiers of Odin.

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