الإثنين , يونيو 8 2020

Finland votes amid economic slump

Juha Sipila (L) and Alexander Stubb

Millionaire business Juha Sipila (left) could replace Alexander Stubb as prime minister

Finnish voters are going to the polls, amid hopes that a new government will pull the country out of its three-year economic slump.

Prime Minister Alexander Stubb and his conservative National Coalition Party face a strong challenge from former businessman Juha Sipila and his centre-right Centre Party.

Mr Sipila has pledged create more than 200,000 jobs in the next 10 years.

Finland’s economy has been the main issue during the election campaign.

A year of stagnation in 2014 was preceded by two years of recession and unemployment now stands at 9.2%.

The governing coalition has struggled to push through reforms, leading to a reduction in support for Mr Stubb ahead of polling day.

A poll published on Thursday by public broadcaster YLE put support for the National Coalition at 16.9%, behind the Centre Party at 24%.

Mr Sipila, an IT millionaire, was relatively unknown in Finland until he became leader of the Centre Party three years ago.

He has publicly criticised Mr Stubb’s plans to cut 6bn euros (£4.3bn) from budget deficits over the coming four years, dismissing the proposal as unrealistic.

It is unclear clear who Mr Sipila will choose to form a coalition with, if he is elected prime minister.

Polls put the Social Democrats at 15.1% and the eurosceptic right-wing Finns Party at 16.7%.

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