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Finland Clears Last NATO Hurdle, Heads to Elections

2 Apr 2023 02:31

Islam Times - Finland, which shares a long border with Russia, heads to the polls on Sunday to elect a new government as it prepares to join NATO.

Thousands of candidates from 22 political parties are vying for 200 seats in Finland’s one-chamber parliament, the Eduskunta.

Four groups tend to dominate elections: the Social Democrats, Centre Party, National Coalition Party and Finns Party.

The latest opinion poll published by the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat showed the three biggest parties – the National Coalition, Social Democrats and Finns Party – neck and neck.

The party that wins the most seats may form the next government.

To do so, it needs to form a coalition with other parties and secure at least 101 seats. The leader of the winning party becomes prime minister.


Finland, which shares a long border with Russia, heads to the polls on Sunday to elect a new government as it prepares to join NATO.

On Thursday, Turkey ratified the Nordic nation’s membership – the last of the alliance’s 30 members to do so.

Finland will formally be welcomed into NATO “within days” after Turkey’s ratification of the Nordic country’s accession to the western defense alliance, the NATO secretary general has announced.

“All 30 NATO allies have now ratified the accession protocol,” Jens Stoltenberg said on Friday. “Finland will formally join our alliance in the coming days.”

The move brings to an end a decade of Finnish neutrality over NATO, and has been driven by concern over Russia’s military operation in Ukraine. Finland shares a border with Russia.

In a statement after the Turkish vote, the Finnish government said joining the alliance would strengthen the country’s security and improve stability and security in the region.

Sanna Marin, the Finnish prime minister, tweeted: “As allies, we will give and receive security. We will defend each other. Finland stands with Sweden now and in the future and supports its application.”

Finland’s imminent accession to NATO came as Russia said on Friday that a ceasefire in Ukraine would not enable it to achieve the goals of its “special military operation” at the moment.

The Kremlin was reacting after the Belarusian president, Alexander Lukashenko – Russia’s closest ally – called for an immediate ceasefire without preconditions, and for Moscow and Kyiv to start negotiations on a lasting peace settlement.

Finland’s membership represents the first enlargement since North Macedonia joined the alliance in 2020.

Despite Turkey initially delaying Finland’s bid to join the western defense alliance, the speed of Finland’s negotiations and accession process has been striking and comes as Moscow prepares to take over the chair of the UN security council.

With any NATO expansion requiring the support of all of its members, Ankara had delayed an even quicker accession by Finland, citing concerns about the country’s support for Kurdish groups and about arms exports.

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