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Eurosceptic headache for Finland's main parties

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Eurosceptic headache for Finland's main parties


Finland is taking in the surprise success of the anti-euro party in the country’s general election. The True Finns could form part of a coalition government after coming third, winning nearly one in five votes.

It is another boost for anti-establishment nationalist parties in Europe following successes in countries such as France and the Netherlands.

If the True Finns are involved in a coalition, the impact could be felt beyond Finland’s borders.

Theoretically the Finnish government can veto bailouts in the euro zone, as the country’s parliament can vote on whether to approve them.

The True Finns oppose the plan being drawn up to aid Portugal.

“We shall renegotiate with the European Union and I think there will be a bunch of new suggestions,” said Timo Soini, leader of the True Finns. “We’ll also have something to say and we’ll be in those negotiations if we’re in the government. Something new is going to happen, and that’s very good because these bailouts clearly have not been working.”

Finland’s pro-Europe National Coalition narrowly won the election with 20.4 percent of the vote, ahead of the opposition Social Democrats in second place with 19.1 percent.

The True Finns quadrupled their vote, winning 19 percent to come third.

The Centre Party, previously the largest in parliament, suffered the biggest setback, dropping to fourth place with just 15.8 percent of the vote. It is now set to go into opposition.

Support for the True Finns was also boosted by anxiety over issues such as unemployment and cuts to pensions.

“There was a lot of disappointment of the policy of the government and people didn’t want the same old thing,” said one voter.

As leader of the conservative National Coalition, the outgoing finance minister Jyrki Katainen is expected to launch negotiations to form a new government.

Despite the celebrations a difficult task lies ahead.

The Social Democrats will probably be involved. Although pro-EU, like the True Finns they also dislike the Portuguese bailout plan.

Negotiations on forming a government will begin after parliament convenes next week.

Mainstream parties across Europe are watching nervously.

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