Finland nationalist election gains prompt EU bail out concerns

Finland’s general election has seen a nationalist party take nearly a fifth of the votes, according to the electoral commission. The True Finns, who have campaigned against EU bail-outs including the proposed Portuguese rescue, finished on around 19 percent, just behind the conservative NCP Party and the Social Democrats.

It is now possible that a hostile Finnish government, including the Social Democrats who have called for changes in the way EU bail-outs are organised, could veto the Portugal package altogether. Votes on whether to approve measures can be taken in the Finnish parliament, unlike in other eurozone countries.

The final results revealed that the True Finns, who oppose immigration, won 39 seats in the 200-seat parliament. The gain put the party just five seats behind the NCP, which is a supporter of European integration, and three seats behind the Social Democrats. The former largest group in parliament, the Centre Party, is down 16 seats from the last election to just 35.

Former Finance Minister Jyrki Katainen is expected to replace the Centre Party’s Mari Kiviniemi as the country’s prime minister. Despite being the biggest party, however, it is likely that the NCP will have to form a coalition with one its rival political groups.

Jyrki Katainen denied that Finland would now make waves in the eurozone.”Finland has always been a responsible problem solver, not causing problems,” he said. “This is about a common European cause. After the elections, the biggest parties will begin to look for common ground. The True Finns’ victory, surpassing every poll and every expectation of a drop on election day, plus the total collapse of the Centre – the whole thing is historic,” he added.

True Finns leader Timo Soini spoke on Finnish TV after the result, saying the terms of the bail-out for Portugal need to be changed. “The package that is there, I do not believe it will remain,” he said.

He also, however, attempted to reassure other EU countries that no threat is posed by the party. “We are not extremists, so you can sleep safely,” he claimed.

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