Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin has been defeated by her centre-right rivals in extremely tight parliamentary elections.
The conservative National Coalition Party won a narrow victory, taking 20.8% of the vote, while the right-wing populists The Finns took 20.1% – the best result in their history.
Ms. Marin’s Social Democrats were pushed into third place with 19.9% of the vote, although they did increase their number of seats.
The sitting prime minister conceded the election last night, shortly after conservative leader Petteri Orpo claimed victory.
She told her supporters: “Congratulations to the winner of the election, congratulations to the National Coalition Party, congratulations to the Finnish Party.
“Democracy has spoken.”
While Ms Marin’s personal popularity remains high in the Scandinavian country, her image came under scrutiny last year when footage emerged of her singing and drinking at a party.
The criticism of her was labeled as sexist by her supporters, and women across Finland and around the world filmed themselves dancing in solidarity.
She became the world’s youngest national leader when elected in 2019 at age 37, gaining attention for her handling of the country’s response to the Covid pandemic.
Her work led Finland to NATO membership – with the application expected to be formally approved in the coming days – was also praised.
But her Social Democratic Party was hammered by its right-wing opponents on the economy, which emerged as the main issue of the election.
Speaking after his win, Mr Orpo, 53, said: ‘I think the Finnish people want change.
“They want change and now I’m going to negotiate, open negotiations with all parties.”
The task of forming a government will not be easy for the politician in the long run as he will have to choose partners to collect 100 or more seats in the 200-seat parliament.
That means the National Coalition Party will probably have to choose between the Finns and the Social Democrats to join them.
If they succeed, Orpo will succeed Ms Marin as the country’s prime minister.
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