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Finland election: Leftist party tipped to win vote



 Social Democratic Party Chairman Antti Rinne

Image copyright
Reuters

Image caption

The Social Democratic party's Antti Rinne could be next prime minister
                

Finland is tipped to turn left in Sunday's election with the Social Democrats leading in polls.

But with several parties, including the right-wing Finns, jostling closely for second place, their ability to govern could be curtailed and coalition-building read ahead.

Last month, former prime minister Juha Sipila's government resigned over his failure to achieve a social welfare and healthcare reform goal a center-right coalition government since the final parliamentary election in 201
5.

Concerned about Finland's probable welfare system in the face of an aging population, Mr Sipila made tackling the nation's debt one of his government's main goals would save up to € 3bn (£ 2.6bn) over a decade.


More about Finland's welfare experiment:

Media caption

Media caption Finland's basic income trial

In the meantime,


Meanwhile, the Social Democratic Party, a center-left party with strong links to Finland's trade unions, saw its popularity grow.

Why has this happened now?

Polls ahead of Sunday's vote showed the Social Democrats, who campaigned to strengthen Finland's welfare system, leading by several percentage points. The party had been in for almost a year.

The party's leader, Antti Rinne, previously described Mr Sipila's policies as unfair, and said taxes needed to be raised to combat inequality.

Mr Rinne recently told Reuters news agency, adding that the move would mark a "big policy change" for Finland.

One of Mr. Rinne's election pledges what to raise the state pension for those taking home € 1,400 a month by € 100, a move he said would help "more than 55,000 pensioners escape poverty."

Image copyright
Reuters

Image caption [19659005] Finland's aging population is putting pressure on its social welfare systems
                

Balancing taxes and spending is problematic for any government, and Finland's personal income tax rate – at 51.6% – is among the highest in Europe.

Finland's recorded "tax wedge" – the difference between a worker's take home pay and what it costs the employer – has outstripped the average among top industrialized countries in recent years, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

However, 79% of Finns questioned were happy with their taxes.

Why is Finland's welfare system an issue?

Like many developed nations, Finland has an aging population that is putting financial pressure on its social welfare systems.

As an increasing number of people live longer in retirement, the cost of providing pension and healthcare benefits can rise.

In 2018, those aged 65 or over made up 21.4% of Finland's population, Portugal, Greece, and Italy have a higher proportion, according to Eurostat.

Finland's welfare system is therefore generous in its provisions, making it relatively expensive. Attempts at reform have plagued Finnish governments for years.

In February of this year, people returned to the top of the agenda state broadcaster YLE.

  • € 20m Cost to government

  • 8.1% Unemployment rate

  • 5,503,347 Finnish population

EPA

How is the vote likely to pan out?

Voting runs from 09:00 local time (06:00 GMT) until 20:00, with first results due shortly after.

The Social Democrats are widely

While the Finns Party has seen its support grow, many other parties do not want to work with them.


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