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Euroskeptic True Finns party makes big gains in Finland election (VIDEO)


Finland's nationalist party True Finns Timo Soini waits for the general elections results on April 17, 2011 at his party election headquarters in Helsinki. With 98.5 percent of the vote tallied, the National Coalition had 43 seats in the 200-seat parliament, followed by 42 for the left-wing opposition Social Democratic Party, 39 for the True Finns and only 35 for exiting Prime Minister Mari Kiviniemi's Center Party.


Jonathan Nackstrand

An ultra-conservative party looks likely to enter parliament in Finland, taking a large share of the vote in the national election and raising concerns over the euro zone's program of bailouts for deeply indebted countries.

The True Finns party, which is strongly opposed to helping debt-laden EU members, nearly quintupled its support in Sunday's vote, from 4 percent to 19 percent, making it the third-biggest party and a possible coalition partner in a future Finnish government, according to UPI.

The rise of the True Finns party, despite relatively stable economic growth and sound finances in Finland, is also being seen as further indication of rising political populism around Europe, driven by public anger over the impact of the financial crisis.

The euroskeptic party, led by populist leader Timo Soini, which had a tiny share in the last elections and previously rallied against too much immigration, abortion and same-sex marriage.

Recently, the party has unabashedly opposed the EU bailouts, according to the Wall Street Journal. Finland committed loans as part of aid to Greece last year, and it has guaranteed borrowing by the EU's current rescue fund, being used to help Ireland and Portugal.

Soini also opposes to the European Stability Mechanism, a wide-ranging euro zone bailout fund agreed to by EU leaders at a recent summit in Brussels, according to UPI.

According to exit polls Sunday night, True Finns was in third place with 18.7 percent of the vote; The conservative party of current Finance Minister Jyrki Katainen was in the lead, with 20.2 percent.

The Center Party of Prime Minister Mari Kiviniemi dropped more than 7 points to less than 16 percent and Kiviniemi said Sunday she would go into opposition, UPI reported.