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Conservative Party in Finland secures significant votes to topple Prime Minister Marin

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Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin has been sacked from office after his defeat by the main conservative party in Sunday’s parliamentary elections.

The tight three-way race saw right-wing populists finish second, leaving Marin’s Social Democratic Party in third, dashing her hopes of re-election.

The centre-right National Coalition Party (NCP) declared victory after all votes were counted, coming out on top with 20.8%. They were followed by the right-wing Populist Party of Finland, with 20.1%, and the Social Democrats, with 19.9%.

With the top three parties each receiving around 20% of the vote, no party is in a position to form a government on its own. More than 2,400 candidates from 22 parties are vying for 200 seats in the Scandinavian country’s parliament.

“Based on this result, talks will begin on forming a new government for Finland led by the National Coalition Party,” jubilant party leader Petteri Urbu said, declaring victory amid supporters gathered at a restaurant in the capital. Helsinki.

Marin, who at 37 is one of Europe’s youngest leaders, has won international praise for her outspoken support for Ukraine and her high-profile role, along with President Sauli Niinisto, in advocating Finland’s successful application to join NATO.

The 53-year-old Orbo, Finland’s former finance minister and potential new prime minister, has assured that the Scandinavian country’s solidarity with Kyiv will remain strong during his tenure.

“First for Ukraine: we stand by you and with you,” Urbu told the Associated Press at the NCP’s victory ceremony. “We cannot accept this terrible war. We will do whatever is needed to help Ukraine (the Ukrainian people) because they are fighting for us. It is clear.”

“The message to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin is: stay away from Ukraine because you will lose,” Urbu said.

Finland, which shares a long border with Russia, cleared the final hurdles to NATO membership earlier in the week as alliance members Turkey and Hungary signed the country’s membership application.

The NCP’s vote share translates to 48 seats in Eduskunta, Finland’s parliament, while the Finns, a largely nationalist party operating on an anti-immigration and anti-EU agenda, will take 46 seats and 43 seats for Marin’s Social Democrats respectively.

Observers say the result means a power shift in the Finnish political landscape, as the nation is now likely to get a new centre-right government with nationalist overtones. The government will replace the center-left government with a prime minister who is very popular at home and abroad since 2019.

It is expected that the talks to form a government led by the National Congress Party will begin in the coming days to form a government with a majority in parliament.

“I trust the Finnish tradition of negotiating with all parties, and trying to find the best possible majority government for Finland,” Urbu told the AP.

“And you know what is important to us? It is that we are an active member of the European Union. We are building NATO and Finland, we are reforming our economy. We are strengthening our economic growth and creating new jobs. These are the critical elements,” he said.

Marin’s party positions on the Finnish economy emerged as a major campaign theme and were challenged by the conservatives, who were still critical of the social democrats’ economic policies and unlikely to partner with them.

Orpo had been gripped by Finland’s growing government debt and the need for budget cuts throughout the election period. The NCP is open to cooperation with the Finns as both sides largely share views on the development of the Finnish economy despite differences on climate policies and EU issues.

While Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted Finland to seek NATO membership in May 2022, neither the historic decision to abandon the country’s non-alignment policy nor war emerged as major issues in the campaign, as there was broad consensus among the parties on membership.

Finland, which is expected to join NATO in the coming weeks, is a member of the European Union.

Primary voter turnout was 71.9%, down slightly from the 2019 election.

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