Finland’s voters are voting to elect a new parliament in what opinion polls predict will be a fierce competition for the Social Democratic Party of Prime Minister Sanna Marin to retain office.
More than 2,400 candidates from 22 parties are vying for 200 seats in the Scandinavian country’s parliament, Iduskunta, on Sunday. Polling stations opened at 9 am (0600 GMT).
Polling stations close at 8 pm (5 pm GMT). Preliminary results based on early voting are expected to be announced immediately after polls close, with the preliminary final result available around midnight Monday.
Marin remains popular in his country, but his party’s views on the Finnish economy, which have become a major issue in the election campaign, have been challenged by two main opponents: Petri Urbu’s right-wing National Coalition Party and the right-wing Finnish Populist Party. party. . Directed by Rica Pura.
Recent polls have indicated that each of the three parties could get about 20% of the vote. If that happens, no party will be able to form a government on its own; Whoever wins the most votes should start talks in the coming days on forming a government coalition.
Marin, who at 37 is one of the youngest female leaders in Europe, took over the leadership of the Social Democratic Party in 2019 and has since led the country through the COVID-19 pandemic, which, to her welcome, has led the country towards NATO membership.
Its strong support for Ukraine over the past year has increased its international visibility. She was known for her direct politics and modern feminist ideals. Her videos enjoying her private life have also made global headlines, drawing sympathy from those who see her as a role model for a new generation of young politicians, and harsh criticism from some of the more conservative members of the opposition.
“Of course we hope the Social Democrats win this election… It’s very important because we want to remain an open society. We also want to work together at the international level. We want to build a green future,” Marin told The Associated Press during a Saturday campaign in central Helsinki. More sustainable where people have the same opportunities in life.
Experts said voters are worried about how the government plans to tackle inflation and climate change.
As in the rest of Europe, the cost of living crisis is worrying. Moreover, at the end of January, Finland’s national debt was about €144 billion ($157 billion). The debt started to rise during the pandemic and after Russia invaded Ukraine. It increased as the government borrowed more money to fortify its defense systems.
“The most important thing in the next government is to reform our economy, stimulate economic growth and balance the macroeconomy. The second very important issue is building NATO and Finland’s capital,” Urbu told The Associated Press at a campaign rally outside Espoo.
Bora stressed that Finns will focus on shaping Finland’s immigration, climate, crime and energy policies if the populist party becomes a partner in the next government.
“We also want to harden our stance towards the European Union,” Bora said at an election event in Kirkkonomi municipality, his district 45 kilometers (28 miles) west of Helsinki.
Finland, which is expected to join NATO in the coming weeks, is a member of the European Union with a population of 5.5 million.