Defeat for the social democrats and a charismatic leader is a result that reverberates beyond the country’s borders
For observers of a progressive persuasion, Sunday’s Finnish election turned out to be an unwelcome repeat episode of Nordic noir. Last autumn, Sweden ejected a Social Democrat prime minister and installed a moderate Conservative successor, while at the same time empowering the radical right Sweden Democrats party. The same playbook may now be followed in Helsinki, after a cliffhanger vote delivered a similar electoral outcome.
The high-profile casualty of this rightwards shift was Finland’s millennial prime minister, Sanna Marin, who has been ousted four years after becoming the world’s youngest political leader. Though Ms Marin’s Social Democratic party actually improved its vote share, it narrowly came in third behind moderate conservatives and the radical right in what was a photo-finish. Her coalition government’s fate was sealed by a collapse in support for allied leftwing parties, as the centre-right successfully mobilised fears over state borrowing levels.