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Social Democrats hold razor-thin lead over far-right in Finnish vote

AFP  |  Helsinki 

Finland's leftist held a razor-thin lead over the far-right in Sunday's with 93.1 per cent of votes counted.

The close result -- with just a 0.2 per cent share of the vote separating the two parties -- will make negotiations to form the next coalition government particularly fraught.

The led by 56-year-old former trade union boss picked up 40 seats after campaigning on a ticket of fierce opposition to the austerity imposed by the previous centre-right government.

The Finns Party, which won 39 seats, meanwhile focused almost entirely on an anti-immigration agenda, under the leadership of hardline MEP Jussi Halla-aho, who also decried the "climate hysteria" of the other parties.

A first-place spot would put the at the of the government for the first time in 16 years.

The has seen a surge in support in recent months, urging people to "Vote for some borders", and pledging to reduce Finland's asylum intake to "almost zero".

Sunday's result see the more than double its presence in parliament, from 17 seats to at least 39, and regaining all of the ground it lost when more than half of Finns Party MPs fled the party in 2017 on the election of hardline

During the campaign, most parties expressed strong reservations about sharing a government platform with Halla-aho's party, though stopped short of ruling it out entirely.

Finnish governments are typically a coalition of three or four parties who form the minimum 101-seat majority in parliament.

The Social Democrats' has previously said his party would find it "very difficult" to enter a coalition with the Finns Party.

Meanwhile Petteri Orpo, of the conservative National Coalition, said his party was "ready to discuss" with Halla-aho.

Outgoing said his was the night's "biggest loser", blaming the "difficult economic decisions" his administration made in an attempt to rebalance the economy after a long slump.

Voter turnout looked set to come in around 72 per cent, higher than the 70.1 per cent who voted in 2015.

The current government's cuts to Finland's prized education system, and a tightening of unemployment benefit criteria, had provoked loud and widespread public opposition.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, April 15 2019. 02:25 IST