While the votes are still being counted, the prognosis is fairly stable and the result is quite a stunner: The True Finns Party stand to win 19,1 percent of the vote, making it the second-largest party in terms of votes and the third-largest in terms of seats in the Eduskunta. The Centre Party was the big loser going from 23,1 to 15,8 percent of the vote. Centre Party leader and prime minister Mari Kiviniemi has hinted that the CP could go into opposition while Social Democratic leader Jutta Urpilainen apparently has stated that the True Finns should be taken into account in the coming negotiations over a new government.
In policy terms, a government including the True Finns (PS) would be more Euro-skeptic than the Finnish governments of the 1990s and 2000s. The next question is how the next Finnish government will be constituted: If the SDP wants to tap into the anti-establishment sentiment with PS, the two parties still lack 20 seats to win a majority. Obviously, you could add the Conservatives to the mix – this is Finland, after all, and oversized coalitions are frequent – but having a coalition of two establishment and one populist party sounds a bit uneasy. Still, Wolfgang Schüssel performed a similar act in Austria between 2000 and 2007, and the True Finns’ predecessor party, the Finnish Rural Party, participated in the government between 1983 and 1991. The Swedish People’s Party has been included in every government since the early 1970s but linking PS’s strident Fenno-Finnish brand of nationalism with the minority interests of the Fenno-Swedes will not be easy. At the same time, the SFP may well prefer being inside and able to block the worst of the PS’s anti-Swedish initiatives.
Interesting times indeed.
Update 2001-04-18: (In Swedish) Professor Göran Djupsund considers the problems facing the Conservative leader Jyrki Katainen who will probably be the next Finnish prime minister (he would be only the second Conservative to hold that position since 1946), while (in Norwegian) Anders Ravik Juspkås discusses the forces behind the True Finns as well as the prospects of the coalition negotiations.