Finland prime minister ousted, conservatives win tight vote

National Coalition Chairman Petteri Orpo celebrates at the party's parliament election wake after seeing the results of the advance votes in Helsinki, Finland, Sunday, April 2, 2023. A general election in Finland was expected to result in a close finish by three political parties Sunday, with Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s Social Democrats fighting to secure a second term running the government. (Antti Aimo-Koivisto/Lehtikuva via AP)

HELSINKI — Finland’s main conservative party claimed victory in parliamentary elections Sunday in a tight three-way race that saw right-wing populists take second place, leaving Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s Social Democratic Party in third, dashing her hopes for reelection. 

The center-right National Coalition Party (NCP) claimed victory with all of the votes counted, coming out on top at 20.8%. They were followed by right-wing populist party The Finns with 20.1%, while the Social Democrats garnered 19.9%. 

With the top three parties each getting around 20% of the vote, no party is in position to form a government alone. More than 2,400 candidates from 22 parties were vying for the 200 seats in the Nordic country’s parliament. 

“Based on this result, talks over forming a new government to Finland will be initiated under the leadership of the National Coalition Party,” said party leader Petteri Orpo as he claimed victory surrounded by supporters gathered in a restaurant in the capital, Helsinki. 

Finland, which shares a long border with Russia, cleared the last hurdles of becoming a NATO member earlier in the week as alliance members Turkey and Hungary signed off the country’s membership bid. 

While Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted Finland to seek NATO membership in May 2022, neither the historic decision to abandon the nation’s nonalignment policy nor the war emerged as major campaign issues as there was a large consensus among the parties on membership.