What does the vote in Finland mean for Europe?

Finland's Social Democrats have won the parliamentary elections, edging out the right-wing populists and the conservatives in their first election victory since 1999. Prime Minister Sipilä's Centre Party suffered significant losses. Commentators shed light on the success of the right.

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Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Farewell to utopia

In Scandinavia the right-wing populists are dominating the discourse now, the Süddeutsche Zeitung complains:

“Sweden is the only country that still isolates its right-wing populists - so far. In Finland they were and in Norway they are part of the ruling coalition and let the other parties buy their support with ever more absurdly stringent foreign policies. Neither the isolation nor the integration of the right-wing populists seem to make any difference in northern Europe, their election results remain stable. And it doesn't look like this will change as long as all the political actors just sit still like rabbits faced with a snake. Scandinavia once gave the world a utopia for a better future. But where in the past passionate creation thrived, today there is only despondency.”

Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

Refugee issue still very much alive

For Hospodářské noviny the election results exemplify two trends:

“On the one hand there's a certain stabilisation of Europe's social democratic and socialist parties, albeit on a substantially lower level than in the days when they formed governments on a regular basis. At the same time the ongoing effect of the topic of immigration has been reconfirmed, even if the number of new immigrants to Europe has dropped considerably. ... The vote was a message to Europe, seeing as The Finns Party had already announced that they would form their own influential parliamentary group in the EU Parliament together with Italian Deputy Prime Minister Salvini and the German AfD. If they succeed, the Christian Democrats and Socialists could lose their majority in the only directly elected body in the EU.”

El Mundo (ES) /

Doubts about Europe growing

The EU must finally find convincing solutions to the most urgent problems, El Mundo warns:

“This isn't the first time that there has been recourse in Europe to the formation of complex coalitions to prevent Eurosceptics and xenophobes from coming to power. What has happened in Finland is another symptom of the doubts Europe's citizens are feeling about the EU project, which is proving incapable of providing convincing answers to the problems caused by the economic and migration crises. The EU is without doubt in great danger of an internal rupture.”

Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

Government formation will take some time

Dagens Nyheter explains why the process of forming a government will take longer this time around:

“After Sunday's elections there are now three big parties: the Social Democrats, the right-wing populists, and the conservative party. In such a situation it can be difficult to form a government - especially if the populists are to be kept out. ... But in view of the EU election campaign it's conceivable that [the leader of the Social Democrats] Antti Rinne will wait for the results at the end of May to see how the parties stand. Finland will take over the EU Council presidency in July, and therefore the parties' EU policies are not completely irrelevant. So perhaps the next government won't be formed overnight.”

Helsingin Sanomat (FI) /

The era of uncertainty

The fragmentation of the party landscape will have negative consequences, Helsingin Sanomat predicts:

“The results of Sunday's elections mean that Finland is facing extremely difficult coalition negotiations. There has never been such an election outcome in Finland. Now there is no longer a single large party but three equally strong medium-sized parties, or if you will, five mid-sized parties whose election results differ by no more than six percentage points. Never before have we had such a starting point for forming a government. ... It looks as if we are entering a new political era. You could call it the era of uncertainty.”

Index (HU) /

Right-wing populists under observation

It's important that all of the big parties have rejected cooperation with the right-wing populist The Finns Party, Index comments:

“It is not a matter of indifference how long the coalition talks last, because Finland will occupy the EU Council presidency in the second half of the year. And the European elections are taking place just a few weeks after the parliamentary vote in Finland. Reuters news agency writes that Brussels has also been keeping a close eye on the elections in Finland and how the right-wing populists perform, because the latter have joined the anti-migration party family founded in Milan by Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini in the run-up to the European elections.”