2011 Finnish parliamentary election

Parliamentary elections were held in Finland on 17 April 2011 after the termination of the previous parliamentary term. Advance voting, which included voting by Finnish expatriates, was held between 6 and 12 April with a turnout of 31.2%.[1][2]

2011 Finnish parliamentary election

 2007 17 April 2011 (2011-04-17) 2015 

All 200 seats to the Parliament
101 seats needed for a majority
  First party Second party Third party
Leader Jyrki Katainen Jutta Urpilainen Timo Soini
Party National Coalition Social Democratic Finns
Leader since 2004 2008 1997
Last election 50 seats, 22.26% 45 seats, 21.44% 5 seats, 4.05%
Seats won 44 42 39
Seat change 6 3 34
Popular vote 599,138 561,558 560,075
Percentage 20.4% 19.1% 19.1%
Swing 1.9pp 2.3pp 15.0pp

  Fourth party Fifth party Sixth party
Leader Mari Kiviniemi Paavo Arhinmäki Anni Sinnemäki
Party Centre Left Alliance Green League
Leader since 2010 2009 2009
Last election 51 seats, 23.11% 17 seats, 8.82% 15 seats, 8.46%
Seats won 35 14 10
Seat change 16 3 5
Popular vote 463,266 239,039 213,172
Percentage 15.8% 8.1% 7.3%
Swing 7.3pp 0.7pp 1.2pp

  Seventh party Eighth party
Leader Stefan Wallin Päivi Räsänen
Party Swedish People's Christian Democrat
Leader since 2006 2004
Last election 9 seats, 4.57% 7 seats, 4.86%
Seats won 9 6
Seat change 0 1
Popular vote 125,785 118,453
Percentage 4.3% 4.0%
Swing 0.3pp 0.9pp

Prime Minister before election

Mari Kiviniemi

Prime Minister

Jyrki Katainen
National Coalition

The importance of the election was magnified due to Finland's capacity to influence the European Union's decision in regard to affecting a bailout for Portugal via the European Financial Stability Facility, as part of financial support systems for debt-laden European countries, and the fall of the Portuguese government. Small differences in the opinion polls for the traditional three big parties (the National Coalition Party, the Centre Party and the Social Democratic Party) and the surprising rise in support for the True Finns also electrified the atmosphere ahead of the election.[3]

The election resulted in a breakthrough for the populist True Finns, which came head-to-head with the three big parties, while every other parliamentary party in mainland Finland, excluding Åland, lost popularity. The National Coalition Party (NCP) also ended up as the biggest party for the first time in its history.[4] The total turnout rose to 70.5% from 67.9% in the previous election; and corruption scandals also resulted in an anti-incumbency vote. The incumbent, Centre Party-led coalition, which included the NCP, Green League and Swedish People's Party (SPP), lost its majority by two seats and their Prime Minister Mari Kiviniemi of the Centre Party signaled that her party would then sit in opposition.

The incumbent Minister of Finance Jyrki Katainen, as the leader of the biggest party in the new parliament, was tasked to form a new government. During government formation talks, the True Finns said they would withdraw if the government accepted the Portuguese bailout. Katainen then continued six-party talks that included the NCP, the SDP, the Left Alliance, Green League, Christian Democrats and the SPP. However, these negotiations ran aground on 1 June as the Social Democrats and the Left Alliance walked out of the talks due to strong differences on economic policies. Negotiations were set to continue under Katainen's proposed premiership, though the composition of the new government was not certain at the time. Due to the Green League's opposition to forming a government with the NCP, the Centre Party and the Christian Democrats, Katainen—avoiding a resultant minority government[5]—announced on 10 June that the same six parties would return to negotiations, describing it as the "only possible coalition."[6] On 17 June, the six parties came to an agreement on forming a coalition government, led by Katainen and consisting of 19 ministers. The ministerial portfolios were divided with the NCP and the SDP both having six ministers, while the Left Alliance, the Greens and the SPP would each have two and the Christian Democrats would have one. The six parties announced their ministers designate between 17–20 June. On 22 June the new parliament elected Jyrki Katainen as prime minister.[7]