Parliamentary Elections took place this Sunday 14 April in Finland. The polls were closed at 8pm. Families and friends gathered to watch the TV show called “The Election Result Service” by Yle (the national broadcast company), which makes us all experts in politics and life in general. The show takes about 4-5 hours and during it politicians are interviewed, the experts in the ERS studio are analysing the developments and speculating on the new government coalition. Nothing really happens but it is so fascinating.
At the same time the Finnish female Ice-Hockey team was playing against the US team in the (female) Ice-Hockey World Championship finals for the first time in history – and only 8 km from my home. But I wouldn't miss the Yle-ERS! On Sunday by 22.48 we were aware of the phenomenal election result of the Finns Party, and the Finnish-US ice hockey thriller resulting in silver to Finland.
The latter equals with the results of the parliamentary elections as there will be more women in the Finnish parliament than ever before in history – but not yet majority. This time 46 % of the seats goes to female members and 56 % to men. What else happened? More precisely on Sunday at 22:48 we were aware of the issues which will shape the political talks of the following weeks: The election result of the Finns Party is phenomenal. The red-green group of SDP, Greens and Left Alliance together was not able to form large enough counterforce to the current center-right government with CEN, NCP and SIN.
Citizens did have plenty of options to cast their vote on. The voting rate may rise as high as 72 %, which means that people did vote. Still no political party is receiving over 20 % support but four (SDP, FP, NCP and CEN) of them will collect over 30 seats each out of 200, and the greens will get exactly 20 seats. Do these five parties agree on anything? Yes, they do, but only in different line-ups depending on substance.
Their flexibility will be tested in the government talks if the government negotiator is intending to form a majority government coalition as is the tradition in Finland. And who will be the negotiator – Mr Antti Rinne from SDP or Mr Jussi Halla-aho from the Finns Party? We will know this latest on Tuesday. What ever the government coalition will be, the parties will have difficulties to express themselves as clearly as they did in the election campaign on topical issues: how to achieve the climate targets, how to strengthen the welfare state, the famous eductional system and sustainable economy, how to carry on with the social reform - and - to have or not to have more immigrants in Finland. It looks like broad phenomenon-based issues like 'prevention of climate change' or 'strenghthening of welfare state' will be led by a splinter-based political coalition.
Major parties in the Finnish parliamentary elections - the current Government coalition indicated with bold:
Centre Party of Finland, CEN
National Coalition Party, NCP
The Finnish Social Democratic Party, SDP,
The Finns Party, FP,
Green League, GREENS,
The Left Alliance, LEFT,
The Swedish People's Party in Finland, SPP,
The Christian Democrats in Finland, CD,
Blue Reform, SIN.
The results in detail
The Yle-ERS makes us all masters of tables and all kinds of statistics - I will keep it simple. The final results yet to be officially checked by Tuesday morning:
SDP: 17.7 % of the votes - 40 seats (+6)
FP: 17,5 % of the votes - 39 seats (+1)
NCP: 16.9 % of the votes - 38 seats (+1)
CEN: 13.9 % of the votes - 31 seats (-18)
Greens: 11.5 % of the votes - 20 seats (+5)
LEFT: 8.2 % of the votes - 16 seats (+4)
SPP: 4.5 % of the votes - 9 seats (no changes)
CD: 3.9 % of the votes - 5 seats (no changes)
SIN: 1 % of the votes - no seats
OTHERS: 5.0 % of the votes - 2 seats
See the Yle-ERS statistics here
If the situation was difficult before the election day - is it any easier now? The Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s centre-right government promised to pull Finland out of an economic downturn. And so it did. However, people are right in saying that the Government got a big help from the global trends, which were favourable to Finnish economy this time. Employment rate now is higher than for decades.
The government has done everything it has promised to do, but instead of appraisal it receives criticism and on the top of everything - in the elections Center Party lost 18 seats, Blue Reform lost all the seats it had, and only National Coalition Party remained it’s position with even one more seat. Many say Sipilä’s term will be remembered for scaling back funding for the social welfare state, including education during a time of global economic growth. The government’s stick-and-carrot based ‘activation model’ which tightened conditions for unemployment benefits proved highly contentious, with the opposition Social Democrats and Left Alliance promising to abolish the measure if elected to the next government.
The Government failed in its attempt to overhaul social and health care services, which led the government quit office in early March, although it stayed on in a caretaker capacity until the election and will continue in this role until the new government will be established.
The next election day is for the European election Juha Sipilä's government's period as a caretaker government will continue as long as the new government will be estalished. It may continue still when the European Parliament elections will take place in May. One thing is sure - the Yle Election Result Service will be watching and analysing European elections, too.