Elections in Finland, polls open: Sanna Marin seeks reconfirmation

Open challenge for the ‘happiest country in the world’, with a ‘rock star’ prime minister at the helm of a centre-left coalition that is playing for reconfirmation against conservatives and national-populists: Finland goes to vote today and the outcome for Sanna Marin it is anything but obvious. In spite of record popularity among Finns, exemplary management of the Covid crisis, firm condemnation of Russian aggression against Ukraine which has turned it into an international icon at times, a meme at times, and the turning point historic for the country’s entry into NATO.

For the polls it will be a challenge to the last vote

The latest polls indicate that three parties are tied: the Social Democrats of Marin, the conservatives of the National Coalition of Petteri Orpo, and the Finns of the new leader of the nationalist and Eurosceptic right Rikka Purra, in full ascent. The polls will be open from 9 to 20 (from 8 to 19 in Italy), to elect the 200 deputies of the Eduskunta, the Finnish unicameral parliament. The results will be known by midnight, but long and tortuous negotiations to form the government coalition are not excluded.

Popular Marin, but in crisis on the economy for migrants

The 37-year-old Marin, a feminist raised by two mothers, became the youngest elected head of government in the world in 2019, leading a centre-left coalition with five female party leaders, four of them under 35. Her reconfirmation is not so much jeopardized by the supposed scandal of her unleashed dances, or indeed an unshakeable popularity, but by a polarization of the country on economic issues and immigration, in a context of skyrocketing inflation with the risk of recession. Marin moved the Social Democrats to the left, with an electoral campaign in favor of expansionary economic policies, focused on support for education and health care. Taxes should be raised before spending cuts, according to the premier, who attributes the growth in debt to the pandemic and war.

Conservatives and national populists want austerity

The conservatives of the National Coalition and the national-populist Finns instead want austerity, with cuts in welfare to bring the debt back below the virtuous EU limits. The Finns of the national-populist right of Purra, then, focus on the fight against immigration and ask for a reverse gear on climate neutrality. In response, the Social Democrats and two of his coalition parties (The Greens and the Left Alliance) ruled out alliances with Purra’s party, which they define as “openly racist”. Support for the populists also from the Swedish People’s Party, today with Marin, is unlikely. And the Centre, the fourth party in parliament, but given in free fall, excludes alliances both on the left and on the extreme right. At the window is the centre-right national coalition party of Orpo, leading in the latest polls, albeit by very few decimals.