Finland election: Sanna Marin battles for survival in a three-way race

Finns will vote in an election that is expected to be a close contest between right-wing populists, conservatives, and Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s center left.

Finland may be days away from joining NATO, but the conflict in Ukraine had little impact on the vote, despite the fact that Finland has the longest border with Russia.

Instead, the economy has become the election battleground.

And Finns are making an important decision about their country’s future path.

The polls opened at 09:00 (06:00 GMT) and will finish at 20:00 (17:00 GMT), when the results of about 1.7 million advance votes will be announced.

Sanna Marin’s Social Democrats face the most serious assault from the right.

Petteri Orpo’s conservative National Coalition Party has high aspirations of establishing a coalition after four years in opposition, but this could be the populist Finns Party’s greatest chance to lead a government ever.

When Ms Marin, now 37, first appeared on the scene four years ago, she was the world’s youngest prime minister, leading a coalition of five female-led parties.

Although her poll scores remain high, she is viewed as a divisive character who came under fire last summer after a video of her singing, dancing, and drinking at a party surfaced.

“She has a sizable following outside her party,” says Vesa Vares, a current history professor at the University of Turku.

“Many of those who oppose Social Democratic policies recognize that she had to deal with both the Covid and Ukraine crises.”

Throughout the campaign, the main issue has been Finland’s public debt and how the country’s valued welfare state will be funded in the future.

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