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Tough coalition talks after split poll in Finland

April 16, 2019 00:00:00

HELSINKI, Apr 15 (BBC): The Social Democratic Party has won a narrow victory in Finland's general election with 17.7 per cent of the vote.

But the far-right Finns Party was close behind on 17.5 per cent, while the Centre Party of outgoing PM Juha Sipila saw its support crash by a third to 13.8 per cent.

"For the first time since 1999 we are the largest party in Finland," said SDP leader Antti Rinne.

But with the vote split and no party winning by a clear margin, it may be hard to build a workable coalition.

The Greens and the Left Alliance also increased their share of the vote.

It is the first time in more than a century that no party has won more than 20 per cent of the vote.

Voter turnout was 72 per cent.

The Social Democrats have won 40 seats in the 200-seat parliament, one more than the Finns Party.

At the last election in 2015, the Finns Party won 38 seats, but MPs split after a leadership election in 2017.

For Jussi Halla-aho, who has led the Finns Party since then, the rebuilding of the party's parliamentary block was a cause for celebration.

"I could not expect a result like this, and no-one could," he told supporters on Sunday evening.

Mr Halla-aho had urged people to "vote for some borders" during the election campaign.

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