Li Andersson, the outgoing chairperson of the Left Alliance, smiled amid a jubilant crowd at the election-night event of the Left Alliance in Helsinki on Sunday, 9 June 2024. Andersson became Finland’s all-time top vote getter in the European elections, winning a whopping 247,000 votes and dragging two of her party comrades with her to Brussels. (Roni Rekomaa – Str / Lehtikuva)

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THE NATIONAL COALITION and Left Alliance will be the largest Finnish parties in the new European Parliament.

The National Coalition won 24.8 per cent of the vote, an increase of 4.0 percentage points from the previous elections, to secure four seats in the European Parliament. The Left Alliance saw its vote share swell by a whopping 10.4 points to 17.3 per cent, securing three seats in the European Parliament.

Li Andersson, the lead candidate and outgoing chairperson of the Left Alliance, was the top vote-getter in the elections with a record-breaking haul of 247,604 votes, dragging two of her party comrades – Merja Kyllönen and Jussi Saramo – with her to Brussels. She was the most popular candidate in the majority of large cities in Finland, winning almost a quarter of the vote in her hometown of Turku and a fifth in Helsinki.

Her personal vote tally was higher than that of either the Centre or the Green League. Kyllönen, by comparison, won 27,000 votes and Saramo 4,900 votes.

“I have to say I’m still in complete shock. This is a tremendously wonderful result, a much better result than I dared to expect,” she remarked after the results of advance voting came during an election-night broadcast on YLE.

The Left Alliance had held one seat in the outgoing European Parliament.

Votes for the National Coalition were divided more evenly, with Mika Aaltola and Henna Virkkunen each receiving about 95,000 votes, Pekka Toveri almost 90,000 votes and Aura Salla almost 40,000 votes. The four seats secured by the right-wing party represent an increase of one from the outgoing European Parliament.

Although the Social Democratic Party saw its vote share creep up by 0.2 points to 14.9 per cent, enough to hold on to its two seats, the results came as a disappointment for the largest opposition party in Finland. Pre-election polls had suggested that the party had a chance to increase its seat tally by one if not two.

The Social Democrats will be represented in Brussels by Eero Heinäluoma, who won 96,500 votes, and Maria Guzenina, who won almost 53,000 votes.

The Centre Party won 11.8 per cent of the vote, a drop of 1.8 points from the previous elections, to hold on to its two seats in the European Parliament. The seats will be held by Elsi Katainen (67,500 votes) and Katri Kulmuni (67,000).

Support for the Green League plunged by 4.7 per cent to 11.3 per cent, resulting in the party losing the seat it received in the middle of the last parliament term due to Brexit. Ville Niinistö (57,500) and Maria Ohisalo (36,500) will represent the party in Brussels.

The biggest loser of the elections, however, was the Finns Party. The populist right-wing party saw its vote share crash by 6.2 points to 7.6 per cent, enough to secure a seat only for its top vote getter, Sebastian Tynkkynen (34,000).

With polls carried out before the elections indicating that the party would comfortably hold on to its two seats, if not win a third one, the outcome could provoke some unrest within the ruling coalition in Finland, analysed journalists at both YLE and Helsingin Sanomat.

Finland’s last seat in Brussels was secured by Anna-Maja Henriksson, the outgoing chairperson of the Swedish People’s Party. Henriksson received slightly more than 50,000 votes.

Voter turnout came in at 42.4 per cent, well below expectations due to a unusually quiet election day, when only 16.9 per cent of people entitled to vote headed to polling stations, according to the Ministry of Justice.

Macron’s centrist bloc crushed by far-right, prompting president to call snap election

Elsewhere in Europe, the elections delivered an expected lurch to the right. Politico on Sunday reported that centre-right and far-right parties are projected to claim the largest number of seats in the largest member states: Germany, France, Italy, Poland and Spain.

In France, President Emmanuel Macron announced yesterday he intends to dissolve the national assembly and call a snap election, with its centrist bloc on track to win no more than roughly 15 per cent of the vote, less than half the projected total for the far-right National Rally, led by Marine Le Pen.

The first round of the elections is expected to take place on 30 June, the second on 7 July.

While the centre-right is headed for a comfortable victory in Germany, Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Socialists are projected to lose the battle for second place against the far-right Alternative for Germany (AFD).

The European People’s Party, which has included the National Coalition of Finland, was projected at about 2am Finnish time to grow its seat total by 15 to 191 to remain the largest political group in the European Parliament.

The Socialists & Democrats are set to see their seat number fall by 4 to 135, Renew by 19 seats to 83, Greens by 18 seats to 53 and The Left 2 seats to 35. Conservatives and Reformists are projected to gain 2 seats to 71, Identity and Democracy 8 seats to 57 and non-aligned parties 33 seats to 95.

The European Parliament will have 720 seats in 2024–2029.

UPDATE: This article was updated with the turnout figure at 02.34am on Monday.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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