Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin concedes defeat as centre-right leader, Petteri Orpo, claimed victory in Sunday's tightly-fought parliamentary election.
The leader of Finland's right-wing National Coalition Party, Petteri Orpo, has claimed victory in Sunday's tightly-fought parliamentary election.
His party got 48 seats in the 200-seat parliament, the right-wing Finns Party got 46 seats and Prime Minister Sanna Marin's left-wing Social Democrats got 42 seats, but less than one percentage point separated the top three parties.
Marin conceded defeat, saying the “celebration of democracy is always a wonderful thing”.
"This is a great day because we have done well in the elections. Congratulations also to the other winners of the elections, congratulations to the Coalition Party, and congratulations to the Finns Party. Democracy has spoken," said Marin.
In Finland, the biggest party in parliament traditionally gets the first chance at forming a coalition government, and usually claims the prime minister's office.
Orpo told his supporters that the NCP’s win was “a great victory".
"On the basis of this election result, we will start negotiating a government in Finland," he said.
He could choose to build a government either with the Finns Party or the Marin’s Social Democrats, though he is at odds with both on various issues.
Orpo’s pro-business party has made the economy its top priority, saying it want to address Finland's debt-to-GDP ratio which has risen from 64% in 2019 to 73%.
The 37-year-old Marin, who was the world's youngest prime minister when she took office in 2019, is seen abroad as a role model for progressive new leaders, but has faced criticism at home for her government's public spending and increased debt burden.
Meanwhile, the head of the anti-immigration Finns Party, Riikka Purra, thanked her supporters.
The party has seen its support surge since last year as the country faced a cost of living crisis following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and Purra was the biggest single vote-winner at the election with more than 42,500 votes. Sanna Marin secured more than 35,600 votes.
Negotiations to build a coalition government are expected to be difficult and could last several weeks.