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Monday's papers: Election takeaways, hard road towards new coalition, life goes on

According to Finland's morning newspapers, no matter what combination of parties make up the next government, major compromises will be needed.

Orpo, Sanna Marin ja Riikka Purra.
The leaders of the three biggest winners in Sunday's election. From left to right, Sanna Marin (SDP), Petteri Orpo (NCP), Riikka Purra (Finns). Image: Silja Viitala / Yle
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Finland's largest circulation daily, Helsingin Sanomat writes that the election victory for the political right came as no surprise.

On Monday morning, the paper walked its readers through four key changes brought about by the vote.

First, all three of the country's largest parties increased their number of seats in parliament.

The biggest gains were made by the centre-right National Coalition Party (NCP) and the radical right Finns Party.

The NCP became the nation's largest party, winning an additional 10 seats in parliament. The Finns Party came second with an increase of seven seats, and the Social Democratic Party came third with three more MPs in the new assembly.

The National Coalition and Finns Party were both in opposition during the previous election period, and as HS points out, it is typical that the major opposition parties make gains.

The paper then points to what it describes as the "collapse" in support for the Greens.

The Greens picked up only 7 percent of the vote and lost 7 seats in parliament. In the last election, the Greens got 11.5 percent of all the votes cast and 20 seats in parliament.

The All Points North podcast has a special post-election edition with analysis and reaction to the results. Listen to the podcast via this embedded player, on Yle Areena or via Spotify.

In addition to the Greens, the Left Alliance also suffered a significant election loss in terms of seats. This came as a surprise, as pre-election polls had not forecast a major election loss for the party.

The Left Alliance lost no less than five of its previous 16 seats.

Support for the Centre Party continued its decline, as was expected. Final results showed the Centre down by 2.5 percentage points, which brought a loss of 8 seats.

The Centre has been in government for the last two election terms, which HS says had an impact on results. However, the decline in support for the party is in large part due to the fact that it has lost many of its core supporters, traditionally people living in rural areas.

Time for compromise

Looking at the final results of Sunday's election, Tampere's Aamulehti writes that it is clear that national politics will not be dominated by any single party.

Aamulehti points out that in Finnish politics, it has traditionally been considered honourable for parties to stick to what they promise. It notes that sometimes politicians have succeeded in this endeavour, sometimes they have failed. In any case, "turncoat" has remained a political swear word.

After these parliamentary elections, the situation is different.

From the point of view of the future of the nation's economy and political life, it will only be for the good if the parties have to back down a little from their election speeches, and especially the tone of their campaigns.

According to this paper, some of the support gained in this election was bought with half-truths and empty slogans. If the parties do not retreat from hardened positions, Finland will not get a majority government, or the kind of government programme that the economy needs.

Urging a practical approach to moving ahead, Aamulehti writes that not even these elections were about good versus evil or right versus wrong, even though judging from the debates that raged on social media, one might have thought so.

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Government formation

Iltalehti looks at the prospects for forming a new government.

This paper writes that the election victory by the NCP will make it easier to form a centre-right coalition. This, it says is because it would have been an impossible situation in practice for the NCP to enter a government headed by a Finns Party prime minister.

The situation is also the same for the Swedish People's Party (SPP). It would be willing to cooperate with the Finns Party, but not under the leadership of a Finns Party PM.

The chair of the Swedish People's Party, Anna-Maja Henriksson, confirmed this position in a statement to Iltalehti on Sunday evening.

This paper points out that now, under the leadership of the NCP, a government could be formed on the basis of the NCP (48 seats), the Finns Party (46), SPP (10) and Christian Democrats (5). That would create a workable majority of 109 MPs, even though it would not be a very strong one.

However, it must be remembered that building a centre-right base will not be easy either.

The Finns Party has its own positions on, for example climate and EU policy. The liberal wing of the NCP would have difficulty working in the same government with the Finns Party for many reasons.

If NCP chair Petteri Orpo and Finns Party leader Riikka Purra, and their troops, cannot find common ground, efforts will start to create an NCP-SDP coalition. The biggest stumbling block to this would be the difficulties of reconciling different fiscal views.

This kind of government base is not impossible, writes Iltalehti, but it would require that the SDP humbles itself.

Personal bests

Ilta-Sanomat reports that Finns Party chair Purra registered the highest number of votes gained by any single candidate in Sunday's election - 42,589.

Outgoing Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) came in second in the personal vote count with 35,623.

The best showing by a male candidate was made by Finns Party MP Jussi Halla-aho, who picked up 21,655 votes.

The election results will be formally confirmed on Wednesday, 5 April.

The government changes, life goes on

Writing in the farmers' union paper Maaseudun Tulevaisuus, reporter Nikke Kinnunen notes that there were campaign claims of the gravity of the issues in these elections being something like a matter of life and death.

It was really not true, says Kinnunen.

The country's political parties have a very uniform view of what kind of problems Finland faces in general. Everyone has the same toolbox at their disposal, even if different tools are favoured to handle problems.

It is also worth remembering the astonishing unanimity that prevailed in parliament when the decision on Nato membership was made about a year ago.

The government will change, but MPs will continue their work in committees. They will enact laws, prepared by the same officials as during the previous government period. They will use reports to support their decisions, which are based on the same facts as before. They will be lobbied by the same old interest groups.

The course of the ship of state will be trimmed by the new government, but after that the political process will continue along its own workaday path.

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