Finland’s Marin in battle over state spending to stay in power


With public debt at 71 per cent of gross domestic product as of the third quarter of 2022, up from 65 per cent when Marin took office in late 2019, mainly due to spending to support businesses and households through the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of the war in Ukraine, Finland’s indebtedness ranked 10th among the 20 eurozone nations, according to Eurostat.

Marin’s Social Democrats believe that economic growth will help Finland stop accruing more debt and, if need be, prefer raising taxes over spending cuts.

Finland’s economy survived the pandemic better than those of most European countries, but growth slowed down to 1.9 per cent last year and the country is expected to tip into a mild recession this year, while inflation peaked at 9.1 per cent in December.

Orpo told Reuters that his priority was to put debt back on a healthy track, even if that would mean painful cuts to welfare spending, such as unemployment benefits.

Any winner will have to form a coalition of several parties to obtain a majority in parliament, but no ties have been confirmed before the vote.

Marin has rejected forming a government with the Finns Party, calling it “openly racist” during a debate in January – an accusation Purra sternly rejected.

“There is nothing to hide, to be ashamed of or obscure in our values. We are a nationalist and patriotic party: We defend Finland and Finnishness,” Purra wrote on Twitter at the time.

In an interview with Reuters, Purra said that her priority was to cut back on immigration from developing countries outside the European Union, calling it “harmful” for the country.

Her party would also push back Finland’s carbon neutrality target which Marin’s ruling coalition set for 2035.

The polls are due to open at 6am GMT on Sunday, with early results from advance voting, which ended on Tuesday, released when the vote closes at 5pm GMT.

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