Eurosceptic party's election upset throws doubt on economic bailouts

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The Independent Online

Finnish voters dealt a blow to EU plans to rescue Portugal and other debt-ridden economies, ousting the pro-bailout government and giving a boost to a eurosceptic nationalist party in the country's parliamentary elections yesterday. With all votes counted, Finland's anti-euro True Finns party increased its showing from six to 39 seats, the strongest gains of any party. The result put the anti-immigration party in third place behind the winner, the centre-right National Coalition Party (NCP), which won 44 seats in Finland's 200-member parliament. The opposition Social Democrats won 42 seats.

NCP leader Jyrki Katainen will now have to invite at least one of the other two parties to coalition talks.

Analysts said this raised questions about Finland's support for bailouts for cash-strapped EU countries, which require the support of all member states. The True Finns oppose the bailouts altogether, while the Social Democrats have called for changes to how they are funded. Unlike other eurozone countries, Finland's parliament can vote on whether to approve the measures.

The biggest loser last night was Prime Minister Mari Kiviniemi's Centre Party, which lost 15 seats and a quarter of the support it had in the last election in 2007.

"It would appear to be a crushing defeat for us," she said.