A Setback for True Finns

The first wave of success of Finnish populist right seems to be over. In the municipal elections held on October 28th, the party got only 12.3 % of votes as compared to 19.0 % in the parliamentary elections of spring 2011.

The voter turnout of the elections was only 58.3 %. Some 30 years ago, the turnout in municipal elections was close to 80 %. It is clear that people are becoming more and more distanced from the political system and distrust in political parties is widely spread.
The results of the main parties were: The National Coalition Party (centre-right) 21.9 % (+1.5 % from the parliamentary elections of 2011), the Social Democrats 19.6 % (+0.5 %), the Centre Party 18.7 % (+2.9 %), the True Finns 12.3 % (-6.7 %), the Greens 8.5 % (+1.3 %), the Left Alliance 8.0 % (-0.1 %), the Swedish People’s Party 4.7 % (+0.4 %) and the Christian Democrats 3.7 % (-0.3 %). The Communist Party of Finland obtained 0.4 % of the votes (+0.1 %).
Observe that the government parties improved their results from the 2011 parliamentary elections, except the Left Alliance and the Christian Democrats. It is still evident that sitting in the six-party government led by the centre-right prime minister Jyrki Katainen could have been much more devastating for the Left Alliance. Why was it not then?
The effects of the economic downturn have not fully stranded in Finland yet, and the exceptionally massive retirement of the so-called big generations of 1946-49 has kept the unemployment on a reasonable 7-8 % level. However, the party is on the way down rather than up and many analysers realize that the political mission of the party has to include much more than can be formulated in terms of the current government collaboration.
The positive side is that in the Helsinki district, the Left Alliance obtained a 10.1 % support, up 1.7 % from the 2008 municipal elections (however down 0.4 % from the parliamentary elections.) The party chairman Paavo Arhinmäki, who was a candidate in Helsinki, got the second most personal votes in all of Finland. The Helsinki district of Left Alliance has doubled its membership base during the past couple of years and is now the biggest district of the party.