Finland goes to the polls next month

The Eduskuntatalo, seat of Finland's parliament, in Helsinki.
The Eduskuntatalo, seat of Finland's parliament, in Helsinki. Source: Rain Kooli / ERR

While Estonia has just had a Riigikogu election, with coalition negotiations to form the next government ongoing, Finland, too, will soon have an election to its parliament, the Eduskunta/Riksdagen, and the parallels between the two are fairly striking.

On April 2, elections to the 200-member chamber across 13 electoral districts will take place and, as with Estonia, is likely to be a vote of confidence or otherwise in the current, five-party coalition, which between them hold 117 seats, public broadcaster Yle reports on its English-language page.

As with Kaja Kallas in Estonia, Finland's premier, Sanna Marin, has also attracted a larger-than-usual amount of media attention at home and abroad, for reasons left to the reader to adjudge for themselves in part, though the country's pending NATO membership and the fact it borders with Russia has also brought the country more into the international limelight than it might normally be used to.

The Marin-led government was already in place when the Covid pandemic struck, while soaring inflation and energy prices have been an issue there, too.

Current Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Climate change and education are other major issues, Yle reports.

Finland uses the d'Hondt system of proportional representation, the same system used in Estonia, while a successful coalition needs at least 101 seats between participating parties.

Another similarity is the number of vote magnet celebrities running on party lists – Yle reports there are plenty of these this time around.

As in Estonia, the party with the largest number of seats usually, but not always, provides the prime minister, and negotiations can be protracted.

The country's three most popular political parties— the National Coalition Party (NCP), the Social Democrats (SDP, Marin's party) and the Finns Part (FP) —had roughly the same amount of support among potential voters in Yle's most recent poll.

Both the SDP and NCP have said they are willing to join the same government if the other party claims a victory in this April's election, Yle reports, adding that polls have also suggested that this is the most popular hypothetical coalition likely to ensue.

Again in a move likely to sound familiar to readers in Estonia, Marin has ruled out coalition with the FP, calling them "openly racist."

The original Yle piece, with guide to parties, issues and electoral system, is here.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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