The Green League has reason for jubilation despite failing to establish itself as the largest political party on the Helsinki City Council.
The opposition party received 12.4 per cent of the votes cast in the municipal elections organised in Finland on Sunday, signalling an improvement of almost four percentage points from the previous municipal elections in 2012.
Summary of the election results:
- National Coalition Party received 20.7% of votes cast in Finland, winning 1,492 council seats. It remains the largest party in Helsinki, Espoo and Turku.
- The Social Democrats received 19.4% of the votes, winning 1,696 council seats. It remains the largest party in Vantaa and emerged as the largest party in Tampere.
- The Centre Party received 17.5% of the votes but won by far the most council seats in the country, a total of 2,823. It remains the largest party in Oulu.
- The Green League received 12.4% of the votes, winning 536 seats. It emerged as the largest party in Jyväskylä.
- The Finns Party received 8.8% of the votes, winning 769 council seats.
- The Left Alliance received 8.8% of the votes, winning 661 council seats.
- The Swedish People’s Party received 4.9% of the votes, winning 470 council seats. It remains the largest party in Vaasa.
- The Christian Democrats received 4.1% of the votes, winning 314 council seats.
- Other parties received 3.5% of the votes, winning 238 council seats.
“The party is rising to a new level,” Ville Niinistö, the chairperson of the Green League, analysed the implications of the election results in an interview with Helsingin Sanomat.
The Green League won 24.1 per cent of the ballot in Helsinki, falling 4.3 percentage points short of the vote share of the National Coalition Party. The National Coalition owed much of its success in the capital to the popularity of its mayoral candidate, Jan Vapaavuori, who won the most votes in the entire country – a total of 29,547.
“We have to give a big hand to [Vapaavuori]. Congratulations. Absolutely amazing,” Petteri Orpo, the chairperson of the National Coalition, said to YLE.
The National Coalition also held on to its status as the largest party in municipal politics in the entire country by receiving 20.7 per cent of the votes, a share that signals a drop of 1.2 percentage points from the previous municipal elections.
SDP loses ground in large cities
The Social Democratic Party, meanwhile, failed to live up to the pre-election hype generated by opinion polls and saw its national vote share diminish by 0.2 percentage points from the previous municipal elections to 19.4 per cent.
Antti Rinne, the chairperson of the Social Democrats, had stated before the elections that the opposition party should be satisfied only if it emerges as the largest party in the elections.
The Social Democratic Party lost ground especially in large cities, with its vote share dropping in each of the seven most populous cities in Finland.
The election results were a disappointment also for the Finns Party, which saw its national vote share plummet from 12.3 per cent in 2012 to 8.8 per cent in 2017.
There is no room for excuses, admitted Timo Soini, the chairperson of the Finns Party. “We got a beating. There’s no denying that we lost these elections,” he stated in an interview with Helsingin Sanomat on Sunday.
Centre wins most seats
The Centre Party similarly fell short of its own expectations, with its national vote share dwindling from 18.7 to 17.5 per cent.
“I must admit that it’d be a slight disappointment if we fell short of the 18 per cent mark,” Juha Sipilä, the chairperson of the Centre Party, commented while the votes were still being counted on Sunday.
He later estimated that the disappointing results are attributable to the difficult decisions and reforms that have fallen on the shoulders of his Government. “It’s obvious that once you once you start taking action, it’s easy to criticise,” he explained to YLE.
The Centre Party remained the most popular party in numerous small municipalities and, as a result, secured by far the highest number of council seats in the country, a total of 2,823 – roughly 1,100 more than the Social Democrats.
The Left Alliance and the Swedish People’s Party were both able to bump up their national vote share from the previous municipal elections, the former by 0.8 percentage points to 8.8 per cent and the latter by 0.2 percentage points to 4.9 per cent.The Christian Democrats also saw its vote share increase, by 0.4 percentage points to 4.1 per cent.
Voter turnout improved by 0.5 percentage points from the previous municipal elections to 58.8 per cent, according to Helsingin Sanomat.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Markku Ulander – Lehtikuva