Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marina appears to have lost her second term as prime minister. Her party is now in danger of being defeated by two conservative rivals in a fierce three-way race to control parliament.
On Sunday night, the centre-right National Coalition Party won with about 97.7% of votes counted. They finished on top at 20.7%.
Right-wing populist party The Finns was closely followed by 20.1%, while Social Democrats garnered 19.9%.
The top three parties received around 20% each of the votes, so none of them can form a government on their own.
There were more than 2,400 candidates representing 22 parties for the 200 seats in Nordic nation’s parliament.
Petteri Orpo, the leader of the party, claimed victory as he was surrounded by supporters.
Ms Marin, 37, is one of Europe’s youngest leaders. She has been recognized for her cabinet’s handling COVID-19 pandemic and for her role in supporting Finland’s application to NATO.
Ms Marin is still popular in her home country, but conservatives have challenged her party’s views about the Finnish economy which emerged as its main campaign theme.
At a Saturday campaign event, Mr Orpo spoke out on economic issues.
“The most important thing for the next government is to fix and grow our economy, stimulate economic growth, and balance the public economy. He said that the second most important issue was to strengthen NATO-Finland.
Riikka Purra, leader of Finns Party, said that the populist party would be focusing on policies regarding crime, migration, and energy if it is a partner in the next government.
“We also want tighten our attitude towards Europe,” Ms Purra stated during a campaign event held in Kirkkonummi (about 28 miles (45km west of Helsinki).
Mariana Seppanen, a university professor, said that she believes Ms Marin has a positive reputation abroad and is more popular than her home.
Prof Seppanen stated, “I believe that usually the party in charge and has had the prime minister… loses an election. And the criticism has not been very harsh.” “But, I think she (Marin), has a lot support anyway.”
Other than Finland’s economy and climate change, the election campaign also addressed other issues such as the government’s growing debt, education, and social benefits.
“I know Sanna Marina is very popular, she has done great, most Finns also think she has done an incredible job with the coronavirus,” Evelina Makela, another Helsinki voter, stated.
“But maybe we need to look at this new crisis; some of us still believe she does a great job. She added that some people are looking for something different.