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Fri, 24 Apr, 2015 12:53:48 AM
FTimes-Xinhua Report, April 24

While two opposition parties in Finland, the Center Party and Finns Party, became the leaders in the parliamentary election Sunday, the Social Democratic Party suffered a big election loss.

     The Social Democratic Party (SDP) won 16.5 percent of the vote, the lowest rate ever, and obtained 34 seats in the 200-seat parliament. It will be the fourth biggest party in parliament after Center, Finns and the National Coalition Party (NCP).

     Having cooperated with the conservative NCP in the last four years, the social democrats are now at risk of staying outside the new ruling coalition led by the Center Party.

     "The Social Democratic Party of Finland had its worst election results in history," said Erkka Railo, senior research fellow at the Center for Parliamentary Research in the University of Turku, at a Foreign Ministry briefing after the election.

     He said the party had been continuously losing its two pillars of supporters, male workers in traditional industries and female workers in the social service sector, due to the poor economic situation and a low employment ratio.

     Founded in 1899, the Finnish SDP once won 40 percent of votes in its hay day, and usually enjoyed 20 percent or more support. It has strongholds in southern and eastern part of the country.

     Talking to Xinhua, Railo said the change of the industrial structure in Finland had resulted in demand of higher educated employees. But the new job opportunities did not favor SDP supporters.

     "These disillusioned workers who used to support the Social Democratic Party have moved to the Finns Party, which is sort of nostalgic movement," he added.

     The economic policy of SDP in the past 25 years has been export-based and of globalization, which "more or less might be right," Railo noted.

     Finland has benefited from globalization, yet supporters of SDP have been neglected and even afflicted by it. "Factories are shut down, people have been laid off, and so forth," said Railo.

     Moreover, he found it very difficult to predict when the social democrats could "turn the tide."

     The social democrats in Nordic countries, who value fairness and social support, are believed to have been behind the formation of Nordic model, a term referring to the Nordic way of allocating economic and social resources.

     Fairness, individualism, free market, transparency and public involvement in decision making are the typical traits. In 2013, an Economist article described the Nordic countries as "probably the best governed countries in the world."

     While Finland's SDP suffers a collapse, Railo insisted that the Nordic model in Finland will no doubt continue. "I do not think that the Finnish welfare society will vanish over the period of the next four years," he said.

     Railo admitted the welfare system will be affected by the electoral change and the economic downturn. "Something has to happen. The current system is in sort of crisis," he stressed.

     Railo believed the problem lies in the fact that the Finnish economy is not strong enough to sustain the current welfare society.

     "We will have to see. I think what the parties, having won the election, would like to think that by putting the Finnish economy in order, they will be able to salvage the Finnish welfare society." 

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