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Finland's Social Democrats on top in partial election result

17 April 2019

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, who as head of state is not involved in government affairs except foreign policy, tweeted on Saturday that he has a "major timing problem" since the vote results clash with a USA-Finland women's ice hockey World Championship final match.

Party leaders Pekka Haavisto of the Green Party, Juha Sipila of the Center Party, Petteri Orpo of the National Coalition Party, Jussi Halla-aho of the Finns Party and Antti Rinne of the Social Democratic Party line up to be interviewed by national broadcaster Yle in Helsinki, Finland, April 14, 2019.

The Social Democrats garnered 17.7% of the vote followed by the Finns Party (17.5%) and the National Coalition Party (17.0%).

The Center Party lost more support than any other party compared to Finland's last election in 2015, apparently punished by voters for failing while in government to push through an ambitious health care and social care reform plan.

Rinne also told them: "I have to make a honest confession: I hoped still for a better result".

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Underscoring a growing confidence among far-right politicians in Europe, anti-immigration parties, including the Finns, have announced plans to join forces after the May 26 European Union election in a move that could give them a major say in how the continent is run. The National Coalition, in turn, came to within 0.5 percentage points of the Finns Party, becoming the third largest party with 38 seats in the Parliament.

Finnish governments are typically a coalition of three or four parties that form the minimum 101-seat majority in parliament.

Climate change: Most parties support efforts to combat climate change, but they differed during the campaign on how far to go and at what cost.

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".

More than 1.5 million people - 34.5 per cent of the total - voted in advance of the parliamentary elections on Sunday under a system put in place in 1970 to encourage participation.

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In all, Finnish voters chose from nearly 2,500 candidates from 19 parties.

The Social Democrats secured 40 seats in Finland's 200-member parliament based on a preliminary tally of more than 94 percent of ballots.

Some have blamed the shrinking lead on the inability of party leader Antti Rinne, a 56-year-old former trade union boss, to attract large numbers of new, younger voters.

The anti-immigration Finns Party also decries the "climate hysteria" of other parties seeking action against global warming. "The future is a big question for us, all this climate changing, education systems reforming. all kind of things are very important" to Finland's people, he said. The populist Finns Party, however, is polling in second place with 16 percent support and has been gathering momentum among voters who find the climate change sacrifices proposed by other political parties too daunting.

Finland is boosting its production of nuclear energy by launching a new nuclear power plant next year.

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Finland's Social Democrats on top in partial election result