Finland's Social Democrats on top in partial election result

A man casts his vote for the parliamentary elections in Helsinki Finland

A man casts his vote for the parliamentary elections in Helsinki Finland

Finland's leftist Social Democrat party (SDP) leader Antti Rinne has declared victory in Sunday's general election, after partial results showed his party winning by a tight margin with 17.8 percent.

The Social Democrats and the nationalist Finns Party were nearly tied in first place in Sunday's general election, with 17.7% and 17.5% of votes respectively, justice ministry data showed.

Rinne and Petteri Orpo, the chairperson of the National Coalition, both told YLE last week that they would turn down the opportunity to enter into a ruling coalition with the Finns Party.

We are joined by Matti Merttinen, the political editor for Finnish newspaper Aamulehti. "Finland isn't capable of saving the world", Jussi Halla-aho said at one of the party's news conferences.

According to Reuters, this is the first time in a century that no party has won more than 20% in an election, and coalition talks are likely to be protracted.

With the Social Democrats, Green League and Left Alliance holding 76 of the 200 seats in the Parliament, the Social Democrats will likely have to open the door to either the National Coalition or the Centre Party.

The nationalist Finns Party was in second place with 17.6 percent, after more than 97 percent of votes were counted.

At stake in Finland is the future shape of the country's welfare system, a pillar of the Nordic social model, which the leftists want to preserve through tax hikes and the centre-right wants to see streamlined because of rising costs.

Just as the Social Democrats are benefiting from a growing sense of insecurity among Finland's older and poorer voters, the Finns argue that the nation has gone too far in addressing issues such as climate change and migration at its own expense. The victor of most votes Sunday will be tasked with heading negotiations to form a majority government.

Democratic forces of Europe will win back the trust of the people by making decisions and by implementing them, at home and here in Brussels, Finland's Juha Sipilä on Thursday (31 January) told European Union lawmakers in Brussels.

Meanwhile the Finns Party, which won 39 seats, had focused nearly entirely on an anti-immigration agenda under the leadership of hardline MEP Jussi Halla-aho, who also decried the "climate hysteria" of the other parties.

The Finns Party does have previous experience of being in government, when they became the second-largest party in the 2015 election. The eurosceptics won 39 after campaigning on the message that the Finnish government should overdo its efforts to combat climate change.

Unlike Finland's Social Democrats as well as populists in the south of Europe who resonate with voters angry over slow economic growth in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis, the Finns call for fiscal restraint.

"It's good that we are the biggest party in Finland, but it's tough competition with other parties".

This could make the negotiations to build a government coalition particularly tricky.

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