A Finnish conservative leader has won Finland’s first general election since all NATO states approved its membership of the military alliance. The outcome came as a setback for the incumbent, who was elected several years ago as the world’s youngest government leader.
By Stefan J. Bos
She may have lost, but her supporters still appeared in a celebratory mood: Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin conceded defeat on Sunday in the close-fought election for parliament.
Marin had been the world’s youngest prime minister when she got the job at 34 in 2019.
Now 37, she headed a coalition of five parties, all led by women. But official results showed two conservative opponents narrowly beat her center-left Social Democratic Party.
However, Marin was still smiling, saying democracy has spoken.
“This is a great day because we did well in this election, she said. “I also congratulate the other winners in this election Coalition party and the Fins party. Democracy has spoken. The Finnish people have given their votes, she adds. This celebration of democracy is always a glorious thing.”
The conservative National Coalition Party narrowly won with 20.8 percent of the vote, followed by the populist Fins Party with 20.1 percent. Under Finnish rules, it’s now up to the leader of the victorious National Coalition Party, the 53-year-old Petteri Orpo, to form the next government.
Orpo thanked Finnish voters for their trust. “It was a great victory for Kansallinen Kokoomus (National Coalition Party),” he told reporters.
“The Finnish people, they want change. And that is why Kansallinen Kokoomus is the biggest party in Finland and in the Parliament right now,” Orpo added.
However, he said he realized he would have to negotiate with other parties to receive the required parliamentary majority. “I trust on the Finnish tradition to negotiate with all parties. And try to find the best majority government to Finland,” he explained.
“And you know what is important for us, that we are an active member of the European Union, that we build up NATO-Finland [relations] and that we fix our economy,” Orpo stressed after toasting with supporters.
As prime minister, he will oversee a Nordic nation that will be the 31st member state of the NATO military alliance.
Turkey and Hungary were the last NATO states to approve Finland’s entry last week.