As expected, Finnish voters on Sunday turned out their country’s Conservative-led government and its pro-European prime minister, Alex Stubb. The opposition Centre Party came in a clear first, with 21% of the vote. But the verdict seemed more an expression of economic frustration and a rejection of the current government than an endorsement of a new one. Only the smallest of margins separated the runner-up parties: the Conservatives won 18%, the Finns Party 17.6%, and the Social Democrats 16.5%. Finns waited until the last minute to make up their minds. Less than a week before the election, more than 40% of voters were still undecided.
Finland’s opposition Centre Party came out on top in Sunday’s general election, far ahead of the parties in Prime Minister Alexander Stubb’s left-right coalition, partial results showed. If the results were to be confirmed, Centre Party leader Juha Sipila, a 53-year-old IT millionaire and newcomer to politics, would become Finland’s next prime minister. More than a third of the electorate cast their ballots in advance voting and with most of those counted, the Centre Party was seen taking 47 of 200 seats in parliament, a projection by public radio and television YLE showed. The Social Democrats were seen taking 38 seats, Stubb’s conservative National Coalition Party 37 seats, and the rightwing eurosceptic Finns Party 33 seats.
Editorials: Europe will watch Finland’s election closely—perhaps for the wrong reasons | The Economist
For a useful corrective to the notion that only sunny optimism can win elections, Charlemagne recommends a visit to Finland. Like sauna-goers vigorously lashing themselves with birch branches, Finnish politicians are lining up to talk their homeland down in the run-up to the general election on April 19th. Juha Sipila, leader of the Centre Party and the most likely next prime minister, talks freely of the need to slash public spending. Antti Rinne, the finance minister and head of the Social Democrats, laments Finland’s dire export performance. The biggest dose of gloom, though, comes from Alex Stubb, the centre-right prime minister. Mr Stubb claims to be an “eternal optimist”, but says that Finland has had a “lost decade” and admits that the coalition he has led since June 2014 has often been a failure.
Narva, an Estonian town on the Russian border, is tired of hearing it is next. “There simply couldn’t be a repeat of Crimea here,” says Vladislav Ponjatovski, head of a local trade union. Mr Ponjatovski, an ethnic Russian, helped launch a Narva autonomy referendum in 1993. Now he would never consider it. Today’s Estonia offers higher living standards and membership of NATO and the European Union. Nobody in Narva longs to be in Ivangorod, the Russian town over the river. The fear that the Kremlin may test NATO by stirring up trouble in the Baltics haunts the West. Britain’s defence secretary, Michael Fallon, says there is already a “real and present danger”. Russia has violated Baltic airspace and harassed ships in the Baltic Sea. Russian agents crossed the border and kidnapped an Estonian intelligence officer last autumn. The new security environment is “not just bad weather, it’s climate change,” says Lieutenant General Riho Terras, head of the Estonian Defence Forces.
Estonia’s largest opposition party Centre Party is requesting to ban e-voting in the upcoming European Parliament elections, reports ERR. The request signed was addressed the letter to Estonian President Toomas-Hendrik Ilves, Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas, Secretary of State Heiki Loot, Chairman of the Electoral Committee Alo Heinsalu, Estonian Parliament speaker Eiki Nestor, Chairman of the Supreme Court Priit Pikamäe, Law Chancellor Indrek Teder and State Auditor Alar Karis. Copies of the letter were also addressed to the European leaders Martin Schulz, Herman Van Rompuy and José Manuel Barroso. In its request the party refers to the findings published yesterday by a group of international experts who claim that the Estonian Internet-based e-voting system is extremely vulnerable and should be banned.