Skip to comments.Finland: Finns Party makes big gains from 2008, but falls short of 2011
Posted on 10/28/2012 11:56:38 PM PDT by bruinbirdman
Turnout a bitterly disappointing 58.2%, despite sharp political differences over municipal reform
Votes are now all counted in Finland's municipal elections, and are as follows (figures in parentheses from the 2008 municipal elections):
National Coalition Party 21.9% (23.5%)
Social Democrats 19.6% (21.2%)
Centre Party 18.7% (20.1%)
Finns Party (formerly True Finns) 12.3% (5.4%)
Green League 8.5% (8.9%)
Left Alliance 8.0% (8.8%)
Swedish Peoples Party 4.7% (4.7%)
Christian Democrats 3.7% (4.2%)
Others, Independents 2.5% (3.1%).
The overall turnout in the election was hugely disappointing, falling as low as 58.2%, which marks a decline of three percentage points from 2008, in spite of a very vigorous debate between government and opposition parties over municipal reform.
As can be seen from the raw numbers, the big winners on the night, propelling themselves into around 1,200 local council seats, were the opposition Finns Party, also the big winners from the 2011 parliamentary elections. Nevertheless, the figures indicate a return - after a seismic shake-up in 2011 - to politics-as-usual, with the "big three" of National Coalition Party, Social Democrats, and the Centre Party re-asserting their position after the Centrists received a royal bloody nose and just 15.8% support in April 2011.
At the same time, the Finns Party, which enjoyed 19% of the vote and collected 39 seats in Parliament eighteen months ago, apparently failed to build on this quantum leap forward, and were affected - as were many parties - by the voters' reluctance to get off the sofa and cast their ballots.
The National Coalition Party and the Social Democrats, the two major partners in the six-party coalition government formed after 2011, can probably both feel they have escaped with minor flesh wounds, despite what was at least alleged to be a considerable groundswell of opposition to the government's planned municipal reforms and the reshaping of basic health services.
It may possibly be that these issues were not adequately explained to voters, or alternatively it could be that the issue was more of a "government vs. opposition" parliamentary-political death-match that did not actually resonate quite as powerfully in the shires as we were led to believe.
At the same time, the SDP under Finance Minister and party chair Jutta Urpilainen cannot ignore the fact that with 19.6% backing they now recorded their worst-ever municipal election result, dipping below 20% for the first time in their history.
Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen's National Coalition Party also shipped 1.6%-points in support compared with four years ago.
Equally, none of the smaller government parties, with the possible exception of the Swedish People's Party [not really a "national" party in quite the same sense as the others], can look at the results as much of an endorsement of their work.
Everyone lost, and the Finns Party won - though not as resoundingly as many had been expecting.
The Centre Party's decline into opposition in 2011 possibly helped them steady the ship in their own sometimes acrimonious struggle with the Finns Party, to whom they lost heavily in the parliamentary vote.
Now they delivered rather more than the opinion polls had forecast, while the Finns Party - notwithstanding their handsome gains across the board - probably saw a few of their earlier Centre Party converts slipping back "home".
It is naturally difficult to draw comparisons - should one compare the figures with the situation four years ago, when voters were last asked to decide on local issues, or with the most recent elections held?
Among the party leaders, this argument was naturally used to the best possible effect in order to present the results in a positive light.
The Finns Party demonstrably did not get the jytky - a serious jolt to the status quo - that they had famously enjoyed in 2011, but it would be stupid to underestimate the impact of their arrival in numbers on countless municipal councils .
In a good many cases, not least in Helsinki, the election result could have far-reaching implications: until now the National Coalition Party and the Greens have been able in practice to rule the capital from an absolute majority position, but that majority is no more.
The two parties are still number one and number two, but they lost five seats between them, and now have 42 of the 85 places on the City Council.
The Greens had a moment of doubt and pain early on, when the Finnish Broadcasting Company predicted they would get only 7.4% of the national vote, and when news was also coming in that the turnout was down in the big cities - their normal stomping-ground.
As so often before, they nevertheless put in a very fast final lap and overhauled the Social Democrats in Helsinki, and eventually produced a decent enough result.
The same could probably be said for the Left Alliance, though they will be worried about losses in some of their former industrial strongholds - a measure of the depth of recent job cuts, perhaps.
The distribution of seats around the country is not completely in harmony with the population of individual municipalities, such that it is easier to get elected (in terms of votes cast out of the total) in smaller communities than in large ones.
For this reason, whilst they finished only third, the Centre Party once again took comfortably the largest number of council seats, in excess of 3,000.
The biggest individual vote-catchers nationwide were Jan Vapaavuori (National Coalition Party, Helsinki, 7,793 votes), Left Alliance chairman Paavo Arhinmäki (Helsinki, 6,482 votes), and the immigration-critical Jussi Halla-Aho (Finns Party, also Helsinki, 6,026 votes).
Green stalwart Osmo Soininvaara collected over 5,000 votes in the capital, while Finns Party leader Timo Soini was the top man in Espoo, sweeping up nearly 40% of the party's 14,000 votes in the city and helping to pull eight other Finns Party councillors in behind him .
His role cannot be overestimated: the next largest individual haul of votes for his party in Espoo was 687, and the ninth seat went to a candidate with just 201 votes.
One other prominent figure to join the Helsinki City Council is the country's former "First Man" - Pentti Arajärvi, the husband of former President Tarja Halonen.
He came home handily on the Social Democrat ticket, collecting more than 3,600 votes.
Arajärvi was actually placed second among the SDP councillors elected, beaten only by Speaker of Parliament and former party leader Eero Heinäluoma and coming ahead of a good many heavy-hitters.
Thanks for posting this.
Soon it will be time for all conservative persons and parties to start acting in concert across borders.
We’ve been under assault from the Left for many decades and soon we will be under siege from the newly forming Caliphate.
I’m glad the Finns did well, I totally support them, they give me great hope for the future.
Agree wholeheartedly. BTW, can we take back the color blue from the communists? Blue is the historical color of conservatism.
The British Tories switched from red to blue after the Russian revolution.