Sunday 8/1/21
MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS

Sanna Marin's SDP resists despite pandemic and 'breakfastgate'

The Social Democrats led by the prime minister fell 1.7 points in support compared to the municipal elections of 2017 and in this sense they suffered a defeat, but their percentage of vote was the same as that of the 2019 general elections.

The National Coalition Party (Kokoomus) were the winners of the night, with 21.4% of the votes.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin speaking at a press conference on 13 August. Photo: Laura Kotila/Vnk.
Prime Minister Sanna Marin speaking at a press conference. Photo: Laura Kotila/Vnk/File photo.

Finally, the electoral turnaround that many predicted did not occur and the Finnish municipal elections drew a political map quite similar to that of 4 years ago, although the governing coalition parties suffered some losses.

Three parties accounted for nearly 55% of the votes and there was a tight race for third place.

With 100% of the votes counted, the winner was the right-wing National Coalition Party (Kokoomus), with 21.4% of the vote. But the Finns also confirmed their support for Prime Minister Sanna Marin and the Social Democratic Party (SDP), which remained the second most voted with 17.7% of support.

Voter turnout was quite low (55.1%), down from 58.9% in 2017.

With a campaign centered on the figure of Marin, the SDP managed to retain much of the support that brought the party to the government in the parliamentary elections held less than two years ago.

SDP lost 1.7 points of support and 248 seats in municipal councils, but still it was the most voted party in three large cities: Jyväskylä, Lahti and Pori. They lost Tampere - Marin's hometown - in the last minute for a tiny margin of just 15 votes.

The management of the Covid-19 epidemic and some scandals that at specific moments surrounded the cabinet, some of which directly affected the prime minister such as the so-called 'aamiaisgate' (breakfastgate, in English) did not take a too high toll on the SDP in terms of vote.

The Social Democrats led by Marin fell 1.7 points in support compared to the municipal elections of 2017 and in this sense they suffered a defeat, but their percentage of vote was the same as that of the 2019 general elections, when they obtained 17.7%.

Thus, their political project did not show the clear signs of exhaustion that many expected, mainly among the ranks of the right-wing National Coalition Party (Kokoomus) and the right-wing populist True Finns (Perussuomalaiset).

Screenshot 2021-06-14 at 09-46-57 Yle - Result service - Whole country - Municipal Elections 2021 - Yle fiGraphic: Yle result service.

Right-wing opposition

Kokoomus were the winners of the night, with 21.4% of the votes.

Support for the right-wing party headed by Peteri Orpo went up 0.7 percentage points compared to four years ago. The National Coalition Party won in Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Turku.

As for the Perussuomalaiset, they rose 5.6 points and 580 seats compared to the municipal elections of 2017 and obtained 14.5% of the votes.

No doubt it was a good result, but Jussi Halla-aho's party fell far short of the around 18% predicted by polls.

The polls also placed the 'persut' as the second political force, but that was not the case tonight either.

Screenshot 2021-06-14 at 09-48-04 Yle - Result service - Whole country - Municipal Elections 2021 - Yle fiGraphic: Yle result service.

The Center Party breathes

Another party that could breathe a sigh of relief was the Center Party (Keskusta), Sanna Marin's main partner in the five-party coalition government.

The party headed by Minister of Finance Annika Saarikko came to these elections dragging serious problems and polls ranked it fourth with 13% of the votes.

But the centrists managed to seize 14.9% of support and third place, ahead of the Perussuomalaiset. That's 2.7 points less than 4 years ago, but the disaster predicted by the polls did not happen. The Center Party was the most voted party in Oulu and Kuopio.

The Green Party (Vihreät) led by Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo fell 1.9 percentage points compared to 4 years ago. Still, the greens were the second most voted party in Helsinki.

The Left Alliance (Vasemmistoliitto) lost nearly one percentage point and the Swedish People's Party (RKP) obtained practically the same result as 4 years ago.

*This article was updated to show the results with 100% of the votes counted.

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