Climate change, social care are top issues in Finnish vote

Climate change, social care are top issues in Finnish vote

"For the first time since 1999 we are the largest party in Finland", said Rinne, although the fine margin of the SDP's victory means building a coalition could be hard.

Finland may usher in its first leftist leader in two decades in a general election Sunday with the left-leaning Social Democrats leading in polls. Mr Rinne said it would be hard to work with the Finns Party.

The centre-right National Coalition of outgoing Finance Minister Petteri Orpo came in second, with 17.2% of the advance ballots.

Greenpeace Finland called Sunday's vote the "climate election", saying that "never before has climate and the limits of planet Earth been discussed with such seriousness in Finland".

Social Democrat leader Rinne has been a staunch opponent of the National Coalition's austerity policies over the past four years.

Yet after four years of spending cuts under the current administration, there is little appetite among the public for further belt-tightening. "The Social Democratic Party's values are very important, it's the glue that will hold the government together".

Finland is the first country to complete a nation-wide experiment on universal basic income.

"I could not expect a result like this, and no one could", Halla-aho told supporters on Sunday, referring to the party's overall result.

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He told reporters that the huge increase to his party's parliamentary seat-count - from 17 to 39, just one shy of the Social Democrats - would give his party sway over any future discussion on immigration, whether or not it was a member of the government.

That means Finland went to the polls under a caretaker government, a move which was derided as a political stunt by Sipila's opponents.

The Green League scaled up its vote share by three percentage points to 11.5 per cent, winning a total of 20 seats in the Parliament.

Finland has a rapidly ageing population and declining birth rate, and the question of how to keep funding the country's generous welfare state has been a key election battleground.

In the wake of the alleged assaults, which are still under investigation, parties across the political spectrum swiftly vowed to crack down on migrants who commit crimes.

The Finns Party has run a vocal campaign calling for asylum-based immigration to be reduced to nearly zero, and decrying the "climate hysteria" of other parties seeking action against global warming.

The Finns Party's previous experience of being in government, when they became the second largest party in the 2015 election, led to the group splitting acrimoniously after its popularity spiralled following unpopular compromises on immigration and European Union bailouts.

The party is the only group in Finland - a country that has the highest air quality in the world, according to the World Health Organisation - to argue the next government should not speed up cutting carbon emissions to combat climate change. A Cabinet made up of ministers from different political parties is a long-time tradition in Finland.

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