YLE: Sanna Marin does well in Finland local elections, her party less so

Central Helsinki skyline viewed from Kauppatori.
Central Helsinki skyline viewed from Kauppatori. Source: Kai Vare/ERR

Finland went to the polls Sunday, with returns – to the local municipalities – disappointing for the ruling coalition partners, including prime minister Sanna Marin's SDP, public broadcaster YLE reports on its English-language page.

While Marin herself proved popular, polling more than any other candidate during the period of advance voting in an election, due to coronavirus concerns, postponed from April, this did not pan out in the same way for her party-mates, YLE reported.

"If the results stay the same it will of course be a disappointment," Marin said, adding that: "Our candidates have worked really hard. We will of course analyze the results."

The Marin-led government's coalition partners, the Green League (Vihreä liitto) and the Center Party (Suomen Keskusta) also saw a drop in support, YLE reports, while the center-right National Coalition Party (Kansallinen Kokoomus or NCP) was the prime beneficiary, receiving the largest amount of support of any single party for the fourth election in a row and also taking the capital city.

Avowedly nationalist party The Finns (Perussuomalaiset) saw little change and remained in fourth place overall.

Marin's leadership had seen external pressure, or at least attempts made at external pressure, from nearly all corners of Estonia's cadre of leaders save for the president, in the wake of Finland's adherence to a stricter coronavirus entry regime than the EU sets, in relation to the principle of free movement.

While this is a major issue in Estonia, given the large numbers of Estonian citizens and residents who commute between the two countries, it could tentatively be adduced that it was not so much for the actual voters in Finland, given the relative lack of enthusiasm shown for the ruling coalition parties.

Critics of Finland's restrictions on the Estonian side of the Gulf of Finland had pointed towards the local elections as a reason for not easing the entry bar – which requires quarantine on arrival via any mode of transport other than plane – though in any case the Finnish cabinet is set to meet this week to further discuss the matter, while the current restrictions regime in in place to June 27.

Voter turnout was also lower than in previous years, YLE reports, at 55.1 percent, compared with 58.9 percent in 2017, partly due to a lack of in-person campaigning in an exceptional, coronavirus-influenced election.

One analyst, Pekka Isotalus, also told YLE that the use of social media, including in negative campaigning against specific parties, had been more prevalent than ever before.

NCP candidate Juhana Vartiainen now becomes Mayor of Helsinki, ousting Anni Sinnemäki (Green League) who faced a zoning scandal story breaking just a couple of days before the elections.

The full YLE story is here.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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