The success of a far-right party in Finland’s general election may ultimately endanger the European Union’s (EU) financial bailout of Portugal.
The ultra-nationalist (and anti-euro) “True Finns” party scored a surprisingly strong third-place finish behind the conservative National Coalition Party (NCP) and the Social Democrats – with about 19 percent of the vote tally (dramatically better than the mere 4 percent they received in the last election in 2007).
True Finns, which also opposes immigration to Finland, is completely against any plan to provide a bailout to debt-stricken Portugal.
As the top vote-getter, NCP will lead the next coalition government, with Jyrki Katainen, the former finance minister, likely to become prime minister.
NCP is a strong advocate of integration with Europe.
However, The True Finns won an impressive 39 seats in the 200-member parliament, giving them a significant voice in the next administration. The Centre Party, which was previously the biggest party in parliament, saw a sharp decline, winning just 35 seats (down by 16) from the last election in 2007.
Potentially, with the True Finns as part of a coalition government in EU-member Finland, any package for Portugal could be scrapped since the Finnish parliament has the right to vote on EU bailout measures (unlike other euro zone nations).
The head of True Finns, Timo Soini, believes his party will now get an invitation to talks on the formation of a new government, according to Reuters.
Speaking on television, Soini said: The [bailout] package that is there, I do not believe it will remain.”
However, he added: We [True Finns] are not extremists, so you can sleep safely.”
One analyst told Agence France Presse that the True Finns strong performance was extraordinary.
Tampere University political analyst Ilkka Ruostetsaari said: the True Finns' victory, surpassing every poll and every expectation of a drop on election day... plus the total collapse of the Centre - the whole thing is historic.
One Finnish voter expressed her concerns about True Finns, telling Reuters: They have strict opinions about everything.
Finnish people have always been very open, I wonder why we are now pulling off, closing up again.
Similarly, Jan Sundberg, a professor from Helsinki University, told BBC News: This is a big, big bang in Finish politics. This is a big, big change.
Meanwhile, NCP chief Katainen does not think Finland would pose any obstacles to a Portuguese bailout.
Finland has always been a responsible problem solver, not causing problems, he said.
This is about a common European cause. After the elections, the biggest parties will begin to look for common ground.