Parties and Coalition Building: A Guide to the Finnish Elections

(Bloomberg) -- The outgoing three-party coalition of Prime Minister Juha Sipila commanded an unusually narrow majority in parliament, and there’s every indication that forming a new government after Finland’s April 14 election won’t be a straightforward affair.

There are currently 10 parties represented in the 200-member assembly, with lawmakers elected via proportional representation. Unlike elsewhere in the Nordic region, minority governments are rare in Helsinki.

Parties and Coalition Building: A Guide to the Finnish Elections

Most opinion polls suggest that the opposition Social Democrats will displace Sipila’s Center Party as the parliament’s biggest, giving them the first shot at forming a majority. The likeliest outcome is a Social Democrat-led coalition with the center-right National Coalition Party, the Greens and the Swedish People’s Party, according to Laura Nordstrom, a researcher at the University of Helsinki who’s also a member of the Greens.

One potential complication is represented by the Finns Party, a nationalist and anti-immigration group that lost its more moderate wing after Jussi Halla-aho took over the group. Most parties would rather not work with it, but the Finns will be hard to ignore in case of a surge in support on April 14.

Parties and Coalition Building: A Guide to the Finnish Elections

Here’s a guide to the main parties vying for seats in the election:

Center Party

Ideology: center-right, free-market
Leader: Juha Sipila
Campaign priorities: greater local autonomy, champion small businesses, enact fiscal prudence, lower labor taxes
Seats (2015 election result): 48 (21.1%)
Key fact: founded in 1906 as the Agrarian League, the party’s traditional support is in rural areas

National Coalition Party

Ideology: center-right, free-market, social liberal
Leader: Petteri Orpo
Campaign priorities: lower labor taxes, reduce red tape
Seats: 38 (18.2%)
Key fact: founded in 1918, the party is pro-European Union and in favor of joining NATO. Its voters are mainly middle-class city dwellers

Social Democratic Party

Ideology: social democracy, environmentalism
Leader: Antti Rinne
Campaign priorities: reduce income inequality, increase spending on education and welfare by increasing taxes
Seats: 35 (16.5%)
Key fact: the oldest of Finland’s existing parties has played a key role in six of the last 10 Finnish cabinets

Finns Party

Ideology: nationalist, anti-immigration, euro-skeptic
Leader: Jussi Halla-aho
Campaign priorities: enact tougher controls on immigration, retain fiscal prudence, reduce taxes on fuel and electricity
Seats: 17 (17.7%)
Key fact: the party first came to power in 2015 after spending its first 20 years in opposition. It splintered in 2017, with its more moderate members forming Blue Reform

Green Party

Ideology: environmentalism
Leader: Pekka Haavisto
Campaign priorities: fight climate change, increase spending on education, reduce income inequality
Seats: 15 (8.5%)
Key fact: the Greens are one of Europe’s oldest environmental movements

Left Alliance

Ideology: socialism
Leader: Li Andersson
Campaign priorities: boost social spending via higher taxes to reduce income inequality
Seats: 12 (7.1%)
Key fact: the Left Alliance is one of Finland’s strongest supporters of a basic income for all

Swedish People’s Party

Ideology: center-right, free-market
Leader: Anna-Maja Henriksson
Campaign priorities: enact fiscal prudence, reduce labor taxes, increase spending on education
Seats: 10 (4.9%)
Key fact: the party represents a linguistic minority; joined the opposition for the first time since 1975 during the outgoing legislature

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.