Finns poised for a political shakeup | News | DW | 19.04.2015
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Finns poised for a political shakeup

Observers say Finland's left-right government will be thrown out for a coalition that could include euroskeptics. The economy has been a major topic of the campaign.

Opposition Center Party leader Juha Sipila, who has backing of the urban middle class and rural conservatives, is tipped to become the new prime minister of Finland, succeeding Alexander Stubb of the center-right National Coalition Party, as Finns take to the polls on Sunday.

"Our country deserves better," Sipila blogged on Saturday. "Politics must be returned to a climate of trust."

Sipila has indicated openness to working with the Finns Party, formerly known as True Finns, as a coalition partner. The move could complicate ties with Europe, because the Finns openly oppose financial bailouts and have campaigned to kick Greece out of the eurozone.

On Thursday, an opinion poll by public broadcaster YLE showed the Center Party leading with just less than a quarter of the vote. The Finns scored about 17 percent, meaning the duo would need a third coalition partner for an absolute majority.

Tough road

The current left-right coalition comprises five parties: the National Coalition Party, Social Democrats, Green League, Swedish People's Party and Christian Democrats.

Incumbent Prime Minister Stubb, a pro-European Social Democrat who favors NATO membership, has had severe difficulty running the coalition. Finns blame their government for failing to revive the economy and curb public debt growth, following three years of recession.

According to the finance ministry, the Finnish economy is expected to grow by less than 1 percent in 2015. All the major parties have focused their campaigns on how to jumpstart the economy and solve Finland's ongoing sovereign debt issues.

"We need... new entrepreneurship and new jobs in the whole of Finland. We need bold solutions and goal-oriented leadership," Sipila said, whose party has vowed to create 200,000 private sector jobs amidst the highest unemployment rate in over 10 years, at 9.2 percent.

Initial results are expected Sunday evening at 20:00 CET, when polls close nationwide.

glb/sms (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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