Politicians in Finland have been watching the results of the Swedish general election closely.
The rise of the right wing Sweden Democrats, with their deep roots in the neo-Nazi movement, had been dominating the headlines but on the night the two biggest blocks of centre left and centre right parties scooped up more than 80% of the votes. The Sweden Democrats were left adrift in third place although they did increase their share of the vote.
Finnish politicians had mixed reactions to the unfolding election results, with the prospect of lengthy negotiations to form a working government.
Government coalition comments
Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre) noted in a statement that immigration had become the main topic of the Swedish election cycle, and that it wouldn’t be easy to form a government.
“Even in the early part of the year, the Swedish election was expected to focus on security policy. It didn’t. Immigration became one of the top issues of the election. We have discussed these topics both in Finland and in Europe. Immigration requires a coherent policy and a moderate and relevant social debate. There is no room for racism and radicalism” the Prime Minister wrote.
National Coalition Party leader Petter Orpo says the election result “appears to be in keeping with the European trend”.
“The party field is fragmented and the formation of a majority government becomes more complicated. The big question is what the election result means for Sweden’s EU policy” says Orpo.
Foreign Minister Timo Soini (Blue) told state-funded broadcaster YLE that he doesn’t think the election result will have an impact on Finland’ foreign and security policy.
Speaking on a morning TV show, he also noted poor support for Sweden’s Greens, and used it to make a Finnish political barb.
“I think the ‘green wave’ is pretty slim, in Europe it’s hardly anywhere. And in Finland it is also evident that the support of the Greens is falling” he said.
Opposition party reactions
Left Alliance leader Li Andersson declared Sweden’s left to be one of the big gainers in the election, as they improved their standing at 7.9%.
Andersson was in Sweden for the voting on Sunday, and met with the leaders of the other Nordic left wing parties.
The Finns Party’s chairman Jussi Hala-aho and his deputy Laura Huhtasaari also traveled to Sweden in anticipation of the right wing Sweden Democrats finishing second.