Finland, having cleared last NATO hurdle, heads to elections

Finland, which shares a long border with Russia, heads to the polls on Sunday to elect a new government as it prepares to join NATO.

On Thursday, Turkey ratified the Nordic nation’s membership – the last of the alliance’s 30 members to do so.Will Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s Social Democratic Party, which started the membership process last year, take the country of 5.5 million people into the world’s largest military alliance?

And is Marin still as popular as she was in 2019 when she became the world’s youngest leader at 34?How is the government formed?
Thousands of candidates from 22 political parties are vying for 200 seats in Finland’s one-chamber parliament, the Eduskunta.Here is where eight parties lie on the political spectrum:

Social Democratic Party of Finland (SDP) – Marin’s centre-left party, now the largest in parliament.
Centre Party (KESK) – Finland’s fourth-largest party with centrist policies.
National Coalition Party (KOK) – The main opposition group centre-right party, also described as conservative-liberal.
Finns Party (PS) – Right-wing populists seeking cuts to immigration.
Left Alliance (VAS) – Left-wing party that has faced divisions over Finland’s NATO membership.
Green League (VIHR) – Environmentalists that prioritise welfare and equality.
Swedish People’s Party of Finland (RKP) – Party representing the minority of Swedish speakers in Finland.
Christian Democrats (KD) – Party supporting “Christian values”.
The latest opinion poll published by the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat showed the three biggest parties – the National Coalition, Social Democrats and Finns Party – neck and neck.

The party that wins the most seats may form the next government.Is Marin still popular?
Marin’s government is a coalition made up of her Social Democrats, the Centre Party, Green League, Left Alliance and Swedish People’s Party.She faces stiff competition, especially from Petteri Orpo from the National Coalition and the Finns Party’s Riikka Purra.

During Marin’s tenure, she has become known for her straightforward politics, modern feminist ideals and cool persona. Last year, she was widely criticised by some members of the opposition after a video of her partying with her friends went viral on social media.

But Helsinki voter Emma Holopainen told Al Jazeera that the scandal will not harm Marin’s chances.

“A lot of the critiques towards her have been about her personal life and choices and not directly related to her leadership skills,” she said.

Marianna, a 27-year-old, shared a similar view.

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