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Finland election 2019: What does this election mean for the EU? Who is in the lead? | World | News

Key contenders in the run-up to these elections have been the centre-left Social Democratic Party led by Antti Rinne, the populist Finns Party led by Jussi Halla-aho and the National Coalition Party, led by Petteri Orpo. Key topics in the campaigns have been the debate over the country’s generous welfare model, its rapidly ageing population and how far to go to fight climate change. Polls open at 9am local time (7am BST) and close at 8pm (6pm BST).

What are the polls showing?

Polls show the Social Democrats are in a strong position to take power in Sunday, after a campaign centred on welfare provision.

The Social Democrats have sought to portray themselves as reliable custodians of Finland’s extensive welfare state, making clear they are willing to raise taxes to maintain public services.

Party leader Antti Rinne told national broadcaster Yle: “We have to ensure that those in the worst situation in society, they are the ones we help first.”

A poll by Yle published on Thursday shows the Social Democrats ahead with 19 percent.

The Finns Party is in second with 16.3 percent, and the National Coalition Party is in third with 15.9 percent.

They are trailed by the Centre Party and the Greens, who have strong urban support and back moves to fight climate change.

The Social Democrats look set to take the majority, but would still need to try form a coalition government to overtake the outgoing centre-right coalition government, led by Prime Minister Juha Sipila of the Centre Party,

What does this election mean for the EU?

As is the case in many European countries in recent years, the run-up to this election was largely a right-left battle.

A win for the Social Democrats would be a rare event in Europe, as centre-left parties have faced a steep decline in polls in many countries across the bloc.

But the increase of populism is still evident in these elections, with the Finns Party taking a hard line on immigration, proving increasingly popular.

However, it is unlikely the Social Democrats would partner with the Finns if they did form a coalition, so Finland could hold as one of Europe’s left wing parliaments.

Whoever forms the next government will face challenges both abroad and at home.

Finland will take on the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU in July.

There is also the matter of the country’s abandoned reform of the health care provision, which the previous two governments tried but failed to deliver, and needs to be revisited.

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