Speed Reads

A Choice in Finland

Finland shifts right, ousts Prime Minister Sanna Marin from office

Finland headed to the polls on Sunday and ousted Prime Minister Sanna Marin from office in the country's parliamentary elections, denying her a second term as the head of government, The Associated Press reported. 

Marin was looking to win re-election by keeping her liberal Social Democrats party in power. However, with 97.7 percent of the votes tallied, it was the conservative National Coalition party emerging victorious with 20.7 percent, AP reported. In second place was the far-right, nationalist Finns party with 20.1 percent, with the Social Democrats garnering 19.9 percent.

The head of the National Coalition, Petteri Orpo, claimed victory, stating, "We got the biggest mandate." Marin conceded the election soon after. 

The loss is a stunning fall from grace for Marin, a 37-year-old who is among the youngest world leaders. She was a well-liked but polarizing figure in Finland, with the country's Helsingin Sanomat newspaper publishing a December opinion poll that found 64 percent of respondents approved of her premiership. However, while a large portion of Finland saw Marin "as a strong leader who skillfully navigated the COVID-19 pandemic and the country's NATO membership process, others say her partying scandals and youthful behavior make her unfit for office," France24 reported. 

The election was neck-and-neck right up until the last vote was counted. A final poll cited by The Guardianwith a two percent margin of error, had the National Coalition at 19.8 percent, the Finns at 19.5, and the Social Democrats at 18.7.

However, even with the conservative victory, Reuters noted that "the election is likely to be followed by lengthy coalition talks."

The National Coalition will now help lead Finland through its first years as a NATO member, and with its victory symbolizing a drastic shift to the right in the liberal Nordic country. 

Update April 2, 2023: This article has been updated with election results.