Tuesday

30th May 2017

Finland shifts to the right after Sunday elections

  • Centrist prime minister Matti Vanhanen may have new coalition partners after Sunday's poll (Photo: European Community, 2006)

Finland's prime minister Matti Vanhanen and his Centre Party have won the parliamentary elections by a margin of one percent, with the boost to the conservative opposition party sparking expections of a shift to the right in the Nordic country's government.

The ruling Centre Party received 23.1 percent of votes on Sunday (18 March), followed closely by the The Conservative National Coalition Party (22.2%) and the Social Democrats (21.5%).

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Both current coalition partners - Mr Vanhanen's party plus the social democrats - lost seats in the 200-member parliament, while the conservatives will be represented by ten more MPs compared to the 2003 elections.

Insiders point out that the poll result could see the social democrats pushed to the opposition for the first time in more than a decade.

"The people wanted the Conservatives to grow, that should also be reflected in the government," said the right-wing party's leader Jyrki Katainen, adding "I think it would be very odd if we were not in the next government," according to the BBC.

For his part, Mr Vanhanen told media that "all options are open."

The country of 5.3 million citizens features among the best economic performers in the EU, particularly praised for positive achievements in innovation and education.

The pre-election campaign was dominated by a debate about the country's state of care for the elderly and welfare, including further tax cuts the government aims to introduce.

Finland puts Greek bailout package under pressure

The eurozone's second bailout for Greece, agreed in July, already looks in trouble as a series of smaller EU countries demands that Athens puts up collateral in return for national loans.

MEPs vote to start democracy probe on Hungary

The European Parliament took the first step towards launching the Article 7 procedure against Hungary for backsliding on democracy. The process might lead to sanctions, but Orban is not backing down.

MEPs preparing to crack down on Orban

The EU assembly's largest group is split by its "enfant terrible", but enough MEPs are likely to abstain or vote Yes on the "Article 7" crackdown over Orban's illiberal rule.

Macron and Merkel to 'reconstruct' the EU

The French and German leaders will present a common proposal to deepen and strengthen the EU and the eurozone. They say they are ready to change the EU treaties.

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